Learn How to Grow Oregano in Containers to enjoy the fresh aromatic sprigs in your Italian and Greek dishes!
When you’re growing herbs in pots, you can’t miss oregano. No matter what you prepare, the slightly pungent, aromatic, and earthy flavor of the fresh sprigs of oregano spices up the taste.
Botanical Name: Origanum
USDA Zones: 5-11
Soil pH: Slightly acidic to neutral
When to Plant Oregano
In a cool climate, plant oregano after the winters, when the weather warms up for spring until any time up to fall. However, if you live in a hot, frost-free climate, plant it in fall or winter. The best temperature for sowing seeds is between 60-75 F (15-24 C).
How to Grow Oregano in Containers
Like most of the herbs, growing oregano in pots is super easy! If you love to cook Mediterranean cuisine, having oregano is a must. You can also grow it indoors if you’ve got a sunny windowsill.
Types of Oregano
Oregano Vulgare is the most commonly found oregano species and also goes with names like true oregano or wild marjoram. It’s mild in flavor but a vigorous grower. There are some other types of oregano plants as well, which are listed below:
Sweet Marjoram: Marjoram belongs to the oregano genus. Its taste is similar to oregano but less spicy and somewhat sweet, and delicate in fragrance. You can use both interchangeably.
Greek Oregano (Origanum vulgare var. hirtum): Sometimes referred to as true oregano, it is an essential part of many common Greek and Italian dishes because of its pungent and earthy flavor. It does not spread as vigorously as common oregano and used to flavor tomato sauces, pizzas, meat, and fish recipes.
Italian Oregano (Origanum x majoricum): Hybrid of common oregano and sweet marjoram result in Italian oregano. As it’s a hybrid variety, the flavor is milder than “Greek Oregano.” It resembles the taste of both Greek oregano and marjoram.
Syrian Oregano (Origanum maru): Instead of spreading around, Syrian oregano or Lebanese Oregano grows upright, up to 3 to 4 feet tall but you can also grow it in containers. It’s strong in flavor and commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine. For example, Za’atar is a Middle Eastern condiment prepared by mixing Syrian oregano, thyme, ground sumac, and sesame seeds.
Golden Oregano: If you’re looking for an ornamental oregano variety, this one is. This creeping herb grows foliage in the gorgeous shade of gold. You can plant it in wide containers and hanging baskets. In taste, it’s a milder flavor than Greek oregano.
Mexican Oregano (Lippia graveolens): Mexican Oregano is a different plant, it belongs to “Verbena family,” whereas regular oregano belongs to “Mint family.” It has a more intense and aromatic flavor and is commonly used in spicy Mexican cuisine. It is more suitable for warm, frost-free climates (USDA Zone 9-12). Its growing requirements are different as well; it can tolerate more sun and heat.
How to Propagate Oregano
Seeds, divisions, or cuttings are the three ways to propagate oregano:
Oregano seeds are tiny, patter them on seed pot and cover with a thin layer of soil for germination. You can divide oregano in spring and summer and plant it in a separate pot.
Growing oregano from cuttings is also an option, take cuttings from 3-5 inches long young stems of a healthy oregano plant. It’s an easy method! Remove the leaves from the bottom half and turn the bottom of cuttings in rooting hormone before planting.
Note: If you’re growing oregano for the first time and not planting so many oregano plants, our advice is to buy one or two oregano transplants from a nursery. This will save you from the hassle of seed sowing and waiting. Later, you can plant their cuttings to multiply them. Also, one more problem with growing oregano from seeds is plants may not come true or of the same higher quality and flavor.
Pot Size for Oregano
Pot size depends on the type of oregano you’ve decided to grow. In pots, regular oregano seldom grows more than 12-18 inches tall. You can grow it in a medium 8 to 12 inches deep pot with a similar spread. Some low growing varieties like creeping oregano and golden oregano can be grown in shallow but wide 6-8 inches deep pot. Plant tall varieties like Lebanese and Mexican oregano in a minimum 12 inches pot.
Requirements for Growing Oregano
This easy-to-grow herb is not much needy when it comes to requirements. Still, keeping a few things in mind before growing helps in having a productive plant.
It prefers full sun in cold and temperate climates, below USDA Zone 10. In warm climates, it’s better to provide shade in the afternoon, especially in summers.
Use any regular potting soil; it should be well-drained, light, and crumbly in texture. You could also add 1/3 part compost or aged manure in the potting soil to make it rich in organic matter. You can make your own soil mix too, find help here.
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Water moderately and only when the top surface of the soil feels dry to the touch. Don’t keep it moist like mint and avoid overwatering so that you can enjoy fresh sprigs of this aromatic herb in your food for a long time.
Oregano Plant Care
For a bushier growth of the plant, it’s crucial to prune it lightly when it’s young. Make sure that the plant is at least 4 inches in height. Pinch the top part along with the first set of leaves and just above the leaf node. This will make your plant grow thick and lush. To learn more about pruning oregano, check out our guide.
If you already added compost or aged manure in soil, there’s no need to feed your plant during one growing season unless it’s showing lack of growth. If you did not apply compost or if the oregano looks needy, fertilize it once or twice in a month with NPK 5-10-5, or easily available 10-10-10 balanced liquid fertilizer, diluted half to its strength. You can also opt for organic fertilizers like fish emulsion or compost tea.
Caveat: Overfertilization reduces the aroma and flavor, so beware of that.
Pests and Diseases
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- Begin harvesting oregano leaves as soon as it grows above 6 inches tall.
- Follow “Trim it whenever required method.”
- Never pick more than 2/3 of plant size.
- The leaves somewhat lose their flavor after flowering so harvest it before it sets bloom, or keep removing the flowers.
- You can also save and store the dried leaves in an airtight jar. Learn how to preserve herbs here.