Common name: Oregano

Scientific name: Origanum vulgare

Family: Labiatae

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

Flower color:


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.