- botanical name: Origanum heracleoticum
- perennial zone 5-9
- height 24″
- spacing 12″ apart
- full sun tolerant
- dry-average soil
- flower color white
- uses in garden: as a border, great in containers, drought tolerant, fragrant, ground cover
- use in Italian, Greek, Mexican, and Spanish cuisine
- attracts bees and butterflies
Greek Oregano is a bushy, pungent herb that is easy to imagine growing on sunny Mediterranean slopes. Its spicy yet refreshing flavor contributes to Italian, Greek, and Spanish cuisine, as well as Mexican. Complementary spices to Oregano are Thyme, Parsley, Chives, Basil, and Chili. Oregano is delicious in bread, pasta dishes, stuffing, and of course pizza. Find great Oregano recipes here!
Some oreganos bloom later than others and some, like Hopley’s, Kent Beauty, Bristol and Dittany of Crete are valued for their flowers and we view them as mainly ornamental. The best culinary ones are Italian, Turkish, Greek and Hot & Spicy. Of these, Greek and Italian bloom about mid-summer through fall and have the most flavor-filled leaves right before the flowers bloom. Although the flowers are edible too, it’s usually the leaves that are used for flavoring foods. They retain their flavor better in hot dishes if added toward the end of cooking. Heating too long may result in bitterness.
It is easiest to propagate from starter plants, take your cuttings in the late spring, and allowing them to root in a fine soil mix.
Start seed indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost date. Press seeds in lightly. Don’t cover them with soil, as they need light to germinate. If you are worried about the seeds washing away, put a fine mesh cloth (like cheesecloth) over the seeds until they begin to poke through. Germination 7-14 days. Transplant the seedlings 12 inches apart in a sunny location, after they are at least three inches tall and all danger of frost has passed.
To harvest: Best when used fresh, although Oregano dries well and retains much of its flavor. Harvest plants just before flowering, bunch stems together and hang in a cool and airy place to dry. Once dry, strip the leaves from the stem and store in an airtight container. For fresh use, snip leaves or small sections of the plant after it has reached six inches in height. Keeping Oregano clipped in this way will help the plant to bush out and encourage more foliage growth.
Many people skip the drying process altogether and simply chop the leaves finely, and either – add a small amount of water and freeze in ice cube trays for later use, or add the chopped leaves to softened butter. The Oregano butter, when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, will last for several weeks.