No Italian kitchen (or Greek & Mexican for that matter!) is complete without the fresh aroma that can only come from oregano. This small leafed herb offers a lot of flavor for its small size. Tiny, flavorful leaves adorn woody stems and may be accompanied by various flower colors, depending on variety. Though, it is best not to let oregano flower as it detracts from the taste. Great in herb gardens and works well in container gardens, too!
Growth Habit & Maintenance
Harvest leaves before flowering. Cut flower stalks off at the base for dried arrangements. Mulch well in winter. Oregano may become invasive, so it is best grown in containers. Attracts Butterflies. See varieties below for specific information.Popular Uses
Oregano is most famous for its use in pizza and pasta sauces. Only the leaves are used in culinary dishes, as the stems are too woody. Once dried, oregano has much more flavor than it does fresh. Though, be careful not to add to much to your dishes as it can taste bitter (a little goes a long way!). Also, it is best to add toward the end of cooking because long exposure to heat can cause a bitter taste as well.
– Common Oregano, Origanum Vulgare
Zones 5-9, Perennial, Full Sun, Pink/Purple Flowers
An important herb in Italian, Greek and Mexican cooking.
– Greek Oregano, Origanum Vulgare hirtum
Zones 5-9, Full Sun, Perennial, 9” – 2’, White Flowers
This is the true oregano! Excellent flavor, spicy; the strongest of all oregano varieties. Usually used in Mediterranean cooking.
– Mexican Oregano, Lippia graveolens
Zone 8, Tender Perennial, Full Sun
Stronger flavor than common oregano; highly fragrant. It is closely related to lemon verbena. Small pale flowers throughout the summer. Needs to be pruned hard and often.
Just for Fun
– Oregano originates from southeast Europe.
– The goddess Aphrodite supposedly invented the spice.
– The word oregano means “Joy of the Mountains.”
– Oregano was brought to America by the soldiers of WWII.
– Oregano was used as a powerful antiseptic and cough suppressant.
– Oregano is widely used in perfumes.
Happy Herb Gardening!
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