Plant in the spring after all danger of frost has passed in a location that will receive full sun to partial shade. Space plants 12″ apart in dry to average soil that is well-drained. Plant height 24″. Drought tolerant.
Does well in containers or mixed pots. Attracts bees and butterflies.
Oregano, Greek origanum heracleoticum
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.
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.
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.