Herbs

Plant, care for and multiply oregano

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Oregano has made a name for itself as a spice and is also used in natural medicine. With us you will learn how to cultivate it in the garden.

© eliasbilly / stock.adobe.com

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a Mediterranean spice plant that has become native throughout Europe. In its Greek translation, the labiate is called "mountain bliss". The popular pizza seasoning proves to be an unpretentious and easy-care enrichment of any herb garden and can also be grown in pots.

Small plant description

Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Growth:pillow-like, clumpy
Height:30-500 cm
Bloom:July to September
Use:Herb garden, open spaces, stone plants, aromatic plants, medicinal plants
Location:Sun
Ground:dry, well drained, normal garden soil
"Show more pictures and data

Oregano is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows about half a meter high. The rhizome mostly lignifies. The upright, square stems sprout again after winter. Small oil containers can be seen on the underside of the sheet. The essential oil exudes a tangy, spicy fragrance and serves the plant as perspiration protection. Between July and September the reddish flowers appear, which appear in umbels or panicles.

Occurrence and use

Oregano originally comes from the Mediterranean. Today the plant can be found worldwide in warm to temperate climates. Natural occurrences can be found in warm locations in sparse forests or on the edges and slopes.

Oregano has been used as a seasoning for around 400 years. The oldest evidence of this is a recipe for pancakes from a Basel cookbook, which is dated to the 17th century. Oregano is used sparingly in German cuisine. In Mediterranean cuisine, oregano is indispensable for the refinement of sauces, vegetables and meat dishes.

Its importance as a medicinal plant dates back to the first century. At that time Hippocrates of Kos described the application for the acceleration of the birth and the treatment of hemorrhoids. In modern natural medicine, oregano is recommended as an ingredient in a tea blend against stomach cramps.

Oregano or marjoram?

Oregano and marjoram are botanically closely related. This is also suggested by the Latin name for marjoram, Origanum majorana. Both plants belong to the genus Dost and are very much mistaken for one another.

But there are some differences that quickly give the hobby gardener clarity. While oregano is winter hardy and sprouts every year, the marjoram has to be sown or replanted every year.

At first glance, both plants are very similar. A closer look reveals that oregano has slightly larger leaves with light hair. There are also differences when using the stove. While oregano is mainly used for pizza and vegetables in the Mediterranean kitchen, marjoram is a popular ingredient for savory and sausages, hence the name “sausage herb”.

Plant oregano

Oregano can also be grown in a pot - © Stocksnapper / stock.adobe.com

Suitable location

The Mediterranean plant loves it sunny and warm. A full sun location is not a problem. This is how oregano feels at the highest point of the herb spiral. The undemanding plant also thrives in partial shade. It is important to consider the bush-like growth of oregano during planting and to provide enough space.

Tip: If you don't have a garden and want to create a herb garden on the sunny window sill, you can also cultivate oregano in pots.

Ideal substrate

In the field, oregano copes very well with conventional potting soil. A light and permeable substrate should be preferred. Too heavy, loamy soil can be upgraded accordingly by adding sand or gravel. This ensures that the irrigation water runs off and there is no waterlogging. Moist soils are an enemy of the plant, which is adapted to heat and drought.

If you want to cultivate oregano in a pot or bucket, you need a less lean soil. Special vegetable soil is very suitable. This substrate promotes the growth and the development of the typical herbal aromas.

Planting oregano - step by step

1. Select location
2. Prepare the soil
3. Dig out the planting hole
4. Insert the plant
5. Close the planting hole
6. Press the earth down well
7. Water the plant

After choosing the location, the soil is loosened up well and roots, weeds and stones are removed. If the oregano is to find its place in the herb bed or the herb spiral, there is no need to prepare the location.

The pre-cultivated young plants are strong enough to be planted directly outdoors in spring. Thyme, basil or sage are ideal plant neighbors.

As an alternative, early young plants can be used on the windowsill from late winter. Direct sowing is also possible from April.

An overview of the most important planting tips

activitydescription
Find location
  • full sun to partial shade
  • bright
  • warm
Prepare the soil
  • relaxed
  • permeable
  • skinny
  • dry
Plant oregano
  • Plan enough space
  • Dig out the planting hole twice the size of the root ball
  • Water the plant well after planting

Maintain oregano

Pour oregano properly

Young plants need sufficient moisture. Pouring should therefore not be neglected. When the oregano is fully grown, it needs less water. However, a complete drying out of the root ball should be prevented.

Since waterlogging should be avoided, it is important to water carefully. The substrate should dry in its upper layers between the individual waterings.

Tip: The plant can be generously slurried on hot summer days.

If the plant is cultivated in a pot or bucket, watering should be done more often. On hot days, the planter dries out quickly and you should check daily whether the plant needs water.

Properly fertilize oregano

In order for the oregano to develop its typical aroma and release its essential oils, a lean soil is a prerequisite. Anyone who mixes some compost with the substrate during planting or every year in spring can already provide the plant with sufficient nutrients.

In particularly poor soils, organic fertilizers can be applied at monthly intervals during the growth phase.

Cut oregano correctly

Full-blown plants get woody easily. Therefore, an annual pruning should be done in spring. If the small shrubs are cut about a hand's breadth above the ground, the plant will sprout generously and develop a dense growth habit.

Oregano likes to spread. This can affect the other plants in the herb bed. So that the plant neighbors are not restricted in their growth, a regular cut should be carried out. These cutting measures can be carried out at any time.

Tip: If the plant is to be cut and used again, the flowering time is the ideal time.

Hibernate oregano properly

Oregano is hardy and usually does not need additional protection. In rough locations, a layer of foliage or brushwood can protect against severe frost and bald frost.

The most important care tips at a glance

activitydescription
to water
  • water moderately
  • Avoid waterlogging
  • Water container plants more often
Fertilize
  • no regular fertilization necessary
  • Compost in spring
To cut
  • regular pruning in spring
  • Can be cut all year round to curb growth
  • should the herb
  • continue to be used during the flowering period

Detect and combat diseases and pests

Oregano proves to be robust and resistant. Pests and diseases are more of an exception. If the soil is too lean, leaf discoloration can occur. A yellowing of the underside of the leaf indicates that a lack of nutrients has occurred. This can be remedied with the addition of horn meal or organic liquid fertilizer.

Tip: If the soil is too moist, the leaves will wilt. A watering break should be taken so that the soil can dry out. In the future there will be less irrigation.

Occasional aphid or cicada infestations have been observed.

Aphids

Aphids can affect the leaves and flowers. Detected early, a hard jet of water is usually enough to drive the insects away. Even a mild dishwashing liquid solution sells aphids reliably, so that no chemical pesticides have to be used.

Cicadas

Cicadas suck on the leaves of the oregano and lay their eggs. If fungal spores are transmitted as a result, the oregano will not bloom the following year. Spraying the plant with a diluted vinegar essence helps against cicadas. The undersides of the leaves should be treated more often.

Multiply oregano

Propagation is possible by sowing, dividing and cutting.

Propagate by sowing

Oregano obtained by sowing - © Francesco83 / stock.adobe.com Oregano can be brought up on the windowsill from February. However, sowing can also take place directly in the field from April.

Attention: Oregano is a light germ. The seeds are therefore not covered with earth.

The seeds are sprinkled on the loose soil and only lightly pressed on. A distance of about ten centimeters should be maintained between the individual seeds because the young plants spread quickly.

Multiplication by division

Propagation by division will take place in autumn. The plant is taken out of the ground and divided in the middle. In this way, two equivalent plants can be obtained, which should be transplanted immediately. This form of propagation should only be carried out with perennial and well-developed plants.

Propagation by cuttings

The right time for the propagation of cuttings is early summer. Roughly ten centimeters long side shoots are removed from the plants. The cuttings are rooted in a sandy soil and planted out at their final location after a few weeks.

Harvesting and processing

The fresh leaves and shoot tips can be harvested all year round. Herbs are usually harvested before flowering if you want to process them further. This is a little different with oregano. Here you wait until the flowers appear. Then the plant has the best aroma and can keep it even during the drying process.

To dry, the herb is cut about 15 centimeters below the flower. The branches can be loosely tied together and hung in an airy and dark room. Once the bouquet has dried, it is removed and stowed in containers in the kitchen, otherwise mold can form.

Oregano has a slightly bitter, strong taste. A fine sweetness is also evident. The phenols and essential oils it contains are responsible for the taste. Phenols have an antibacterial and antifungal activity.

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