Caring for Your Oregano Plants
Oregano is a wonderful perennial herb which is easy to grow and maintain. It has great fragrance and is attractive. With good care, it can provide a great addition to your garden and season your recipes for several years.
Plant in the Right Place
Plant oregano in good draining soil in full sun and sheltered from high winds. The soil does not need to be amended as soil that is too rich will diminish the flavor of the plant.
Find out whether your oregano plants are bush type or ground cover or trailing and plant them accordingly. You can effectively use oregano plants in borders, rock gardens or as a ground cover. They are happy in containers or in the ground.
Oregano is a great companion plant for other herbs and vegetables as their fragrance repels bean and broccoli pests. Oregano used as a ground cover around tomato or pepper plants helps maintain moisture.
Keep soil moist but not soggy. If your plant is in good draining soil, just check for moistness and water only when it needs it. Water slowly and deeply around the plant so that the water reaches the roots.
Once your plants are established, they will generally need little water depending on how dry it is in your area and the time of year. If your climate is hot and dry, they may need more water in the summer.
Ongoing Care and Maintenance
Oregano does not need fertilizer as it can diminish the taste of the herb. Mulch is not necessary either but if you are mulching your plants, use organic mulch. Keep the mulch 4 to 6 inches away from the plant and away from its runners.
Pinch back oregano's flower stalks to keep plants from becoming too leggy or woody. This will also help promote the best flavor.
At the end of the growing season, cut back your plants to promote new growth in the spring. Take off any dead branches and shape if desired. You can also prune your oregano if it is getting too woody or bare in the middle. If you have harsh winters, cut back your plants and cover them with mulch before frost comes.
Harvest after the plant is 4 to 5 inches tall. For the best flavor, wait until the herb flowers as flowering concentrates the oil in the leaves.
Harvest oregano in the morning after the dew has dried. Use sharp clippers and cut sprigs from 6 to 8 inches long. Stagger these cuts evenly around the plant; don't shear off the tops.
Harvest oregano as you need it, or cut some extra to save for later. You can use it fresh or dry bunches for use out of season. Once the bunches have dried store them in airtight containers. You can also freeze fresh oregano sprigs in freezer bags for later use.