How to Grow Oregano

Oregano or marjoram leaves isolated on white background cutout

How to Grow Oregano

Oregano is a perennial herb used in Mediterranean and Mexican cooking. It thrives in a sunny and sheltered spot with free draining soil. It is therefore a prime candidate for growing in pots.  However, it also makes a good ground cover plant (as long as it’s free draining) or a filler plant for window boxes and other containers.

Sowing 

Fill a small pot with peat-free multi-purpose compost, water it and then scatter the seeds thinly on top. Do not sow too many in each pot! Do not cover the seeds with compost but if you have some vermiculite you can sprinkle that on top. Press down the seeds slightly to make sure that they have good contact with the soil. Water again by misting, and put a plastic dome or cling film on top. Make sure that it has air holes for ventilation. Keep the soil evenly moist until the seeds germinate because if they dry out, it’s unlikely they will germinate at all. Having said that, be careful not to overwater. Oregano needs heat to germinate, 20-25°C is ideal.

Plant care 

After germination, remove the plastic from the top and grow on, ideally at 20°C. When the seedlings are big enough to handle, pot them on into individual small pots filled with peat-free compost. Every time roots show through the drainage holes at the bottom, move it into a slightly bigger pot till you reach a 15cm one. 

You can keep the pot in your S-Series Mini Greenhouse or put it outside in early summer after the last frost. To acclimatise the plants to outdoor conditions, lift them outside in a sheltered, lightly shaded spot during the day, and put them back in at night. Do this for about two weeks before leaving them out all the time. Gradually increase the time outside. 

Oregano will die back in winter and regrow in spring. Cut the woody stems back to the base of the plant to encourage new growth and repot into new compost if growing in a pot. 

Make sure it doesn’t sit in a puddle of water over the winter!

Harvesting 

Harvest regularly by picking the leaves and pinching out tops to keep the plant productive.  Cut plants back completely in midsummer to encourage fresh new leaves, or leave it to flower for the pollinators. 

Watch out! 

Oregano is generally problem free, provided it’s planted in free draining soil in a sunny and sheltered spot.

Pro Tip

Oregano can be stored by drying large bunches in paper bags. Hang them upside down, and after a week – shake the stems to release the leaves. Store in an airtight container. 

Nerdy facts

Oregano and Marjoram are sometimes referred to as the same plant but that is not quite the case. Oregano’s botanical name is Origanum vulgare and is a flowering plant in the mint family, while Marjoram, Origanum majorana, is an aromatic herb in the mint family. The main difference is that oregano has a stronger flavour.