How to grow oregano at home

Oregano is one of the most famous spices and can be found in virtually every kitchen. Not only pizza can be seasoned with oregano. It adds its characteristic aroma to soups, breads or chili and can even be brewed as a spicy tea that helps against coughing. What's great is that oregano is very easy to grow yourself at home. Here you can find out how quickly it can be done.

Choosing the right type of oregano

Of course, there is not only a single variety of oregano, but a whole family of them. The probably most common variety, which should also be the most familiar to your taste buds, is Greek oregano (Origanum Hirtum or Origanum heracleoticum). These varieties of oregano are the classic pizza spice of Italian cuisine. Other popular varieties are the simple oregano (Origanum vulgare), Turkish oregano (Origanum onitis) and marjoram (Origanum majorana). These three are especially used in the spicy cuisine of Texas and Mexico and are usually combined with chili powder or pepper.

By the way, there is also Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens). But as you can already tell from the name, it is not actually an oregano plant. From a culinary point of view, however, it comes quite close to oregano.

Freshly harvested oregano
Freshly harvested oregano twigs. Source: piqsels.com

Growing oregano from seeds

Oregano seeds of various types can be found in any gardening section of your local hardware store. A single packet will give you more than enough plants to flavor your dishes for years to come. While you're there, the best thing to do is buy some herb soil to go with it, as it will contain all the necessary nutrients your plants need for initial germination. However, you can also use regular garden soil or forest soil, as oregano actually does relatively well in nutrient-poor soil. The only really important thing is lime. You can mix this into the soil in the form of crushed snail shells or mussel shells, for example.

Fill the soil into a small bowl or pot and moisten it slightly. Then place the oregano seeds on top of the soil and press them down very lightly with your finger. Be careful not to cover them, though, as oregano only germinates in light conditions. If there is still ground frost outside, you should keep your pot indoors for the time being and place it next to a well-lit window. From about mid-May you can continue outside.

After about 2-3 weeks, small oregano seedlings should begin to appear, and you can carefully separate them and place them in individual pots or a large bed.

Growing oregano from adult plants

If you already have an oregano plant, you can easily divide it and make several plants. To do this, carefully dig up your plant and clean the roots with light tapping and a little water. Now cut the plant apart so that both "new" plants have roots and leaves. You can now replant both of them and have successfully cloned the oregano.

Harvest oregano between June and September

Between the months of June and September, oregano has its flowering period and is thus most aromatic. Oregano is harvested by cutting branches with as many leaves and flowers as possible. Unlike other herbs, the flowering stage of oregano brings with it additional flavors that you don't want to miss. Of course, if you want to keep your oregano for next year, you should leave a few branches. It's a good idea to cut the plant down to a maximum of 10 centimeters (4 inches) so that it will grow back bushier next year. You should wash your harvest first and can theoretically use it as a fresh spice right there and then.

Oregano has a purple blossom
Oregano blossoms are purple to pink. Source: piqsels.com

However, most of us know oregano more as an already dry spice. To dry it, tie a string to your oregano sprig and hang it upside down in a dry place. The better ventilated this place is, the better the aroma of your oregano will be later. Now you have to let it hang there for a few weeks. After 6 weeks at the latest it should be completely dry. It's best to put a pad underneath, because every now and then a leaf can fall off.

When your oregano is dried, simply stroke lightly with your hand from the base to the tip of the branch and most of the leaves and flowers will fall off easily. If you want, you can now reduce them in size with an herb grinder and pack them in an airtight tin. And your spice is ready to use and long-lasting!

Keeping your oregano plants for years to come

Mature oregano plants usually survive the winter without major problems. However, when it gets warmer again in spring, you will have to do a little work. The older your plant gets, the firmer and woodier the stems become. Since they aren't really suitable for harvesting, you should cut them off early enough. Just as with the harvest, you should leave about 10 centimeters (4 inches) so that the plant grows back bushy until summer.

If spice growing has piqued your interest, next check out how to grow basil at home!

Summary

Oregano is a popular spice and easy to care for plant that anyone can grow at home. Seeds can be planted or adult plants divided into more. It is only important that the soil at the time of cultivation is not frozen, and also somewhat rich in lime. Midsummer is the perfect harvest time for the strongest aroma. When harvesting, one should leave about 10 centimeters (4 inches) of the plant. To dry, simply hang the branches upside down in a dry, well-ventilated place.

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