Common name: Oregano
Scientific name: Origanum vulgare
Uses: Cosmetic, culinary, decorative, and medicinal.Oregano is used in bath oils and sachets to help relieve aches and stiff joints. Fresh or dried leaves flavor tomato sauce, vinegar, butter, omelets, quiche, bread, marinated vegetables, beef, poultry, game, onions, black beans, and zucchini. Dried flowers are used in decorative arrangements and for fragrance in potpourris. Fresh sprigs are used to make wreaths. Oregano also is used to make red dye. It has attractive flowers and can be grown in containers. It is said to have some medicinal qualities.
History: The name oregano is derived from the Greek oros meaning
Description: Oregano's creeping rootstock produces square, hairy, erect, purplish stems. The purple to white flowers are 1/4 inch long, two-lipped, tubular, and in terminal spikelets. The leaves are opposite, ovate, and up to 2 inches long. The fruit is comprised of four seedlike nutlets.
Plant type: Perennial
Hardiness: Hardiness zone 5.
Height: 12 to 24 inches
Width: 10 to 20 inches
Soil: well-drained, average soil with a pH of 6.8
Pests: spider mites, aphids, and leaf miners
Disease: Root rot, fungal disease
Cultivation: Take cuttings of new shoots (about 3 inches long) in late spring once the leaves are firm enough to prevent wilting when placed in sand. Plant well-rooted cuttings in the ground about 12 inches apart or plant outside in pots. If seeds are used, sow them in a seedbox in spring; plant outside when seedlings are 3 inches tall. Cut out old wood that becomes leggy at the end of winter and replace plants every four years or so to prevent legginess.
Companion planting: Oregano attracts honey bees, which pollinate other flowering plants.
Propagation: Seeds, cuttings, and root division, all in spring.
Flowering period: July to September
Garden notes: With its low compact growth, oregano makes a good border plant. Once in bloom, our plants produced flowers throughout the growing season. We kept the plants pinched back to encourage bushier growth. Oregano is closely related to marjoram, but it has a coarser texture and a stronger flavor.