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Guidelines for successfully growing oregano in gardens

Although a preference exists for wild oregano, actively cultivating this herb in Italy is very much achievable. Let's delve into the methods and best practices.

by BioGrow

Growing Oregano is a feasible practice in our country, even though this medicinal plant is primarily known for being wild. It’s very resilient and grows and propagates in the most rugged areas, in uncultivated and abandoned places, in rocky soils or among stones.
Generally, it prefers hilly and mountainous environments with altitudes ranging from 400 to 2000 meters above sea level and adapts well to different soil and climatic conditions. The plant thrives more in soils rich in organic matter, loose or silty-clayey. At the same time, however, it can adapt very well in extreme situations, even in the absence of nutrients. Precisely because of all these characteristics, being very resilient, the plant can also be grown in a home garden and provide great satisfaction.

In this article, therefore, we’ll see how it’s possible to grow oregano organically in our garden, when is the right time to harvest it, and how to dry it correctly.

Growing Oregano in the Garden

To grow oregano in your garden, you first need to start from seed. These are tiny seeds; consider that a thousand of them weigh on average 0.035 grams. Therefore, direct sowing can be challenging and wasteful. The advice is to use a seedbed made with 12 cm diameter plastic pots. In the small pot, distribute a tiny handful of seeds. The ideal sowing period is at the end of winter. The young plants are ready for transplanting after about 60 days when they are well-rooted and about 10-15 cm in height. The soil should preferably be loose and well-tilled, as well as fertilized with dry manure or pelleted manure. In summary, to grow oregano, you need to follow these steps:

  • Create a seedbed of seedlings,
  • Transplant them into the ground, maintaining a distance of 60-70 cm between each plant,
  • Water as needed,
  • Perform hoeing, especially in the early stages of growth.

The right planting layout for growing oregano

Cultivation of oregano

Cultivation of oregano

To grow oregano, particular attention must be paid to positioning and planting distances. This aromatic and medicinal plant is perennial. For this reason, it’s good to place it on the outer edges of the garden, like a sort of hedge, or near a wall where you wouldn’t grow anything else. In short, choose a spot from which it won’t move anymore; instead, it will propagate. The oregano plant, once rooted, tends to propagate naturally in the following years. Therefore, it’s essential to maintain the correct planting distances, which should be at least 60-70 cm between one plant and another.

Propagation of the mother plant

A cultivation operation to be done after the first year of growth is the propagation of the mother plant, which is expanded to induce propagation itself. So, a few seedlings are enough to have a beautiful oregano bush over the years.

How to water oregano

Regarding the irrigation of cultivated oregano, it’s minimal. It should be done as needed only in the early stages of growth or during excessively dry periods. In the first year, much attention should also be paid to controlling weeds, which hinder the lush growth of the plants, stealing water and nutrients. Therefore, it’s good to practice hoeing. In the following years, oregano, by propagating, limits their development on its own.

How to harvest oregano

Harvested oregano

Oregano at its peak flowering stage

The harvest time varies depending on the purposes for which the oregano cultivation is intended.
Plants intended for herbal and cosmetic use are preferably harvested in pre-flowering, which usually occurs at the beginning of summer. If the medicinal plant is intended for the production of essential oil, harvesting should be done during full flowering. This is because the percentage of oil present in the flowers during this period is at its peak. Finally, plants intended for food use should be harvested when flowering is at its peak, and the flowers begin to fall, so at the end of summer. Being a perennial plant, oregano needs to be harvested by mowing the upper part. This allows the plant to restart its vegetative cycle.

How to dry oregano

The drying of oregano takes place after harvesting and is a crucial step to maintain the plant’s properties unchanged. It’s recommended not to expose the harvest to direct sunlight, but to tie the branches and hang them upside down in a shaded and ventilated environment. To store the dried oregano, we recommend using paper bags. These will collect the leaves and flowers that will crumble to the touch over time. To dry this medicinal plant, the storage place should be cool and dry. This will allow you to preserve your wild or cultivated oregano for as long as you want.

Further Reading

  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development – Phytother Res: “Carvacrol and human health: A comprehensive review.”: Carvacrol (CV) is a phenolic monoterpenoid found in essential oils of oregano (Origanum vulgare), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), pepperwort…
  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development – Molecules: “Origanum vulgare L. Essential Oil as a Potential Anti-Acne Topical Nanoemulsion-In Vitro and In Vivo Study.”: Origanum vulgare L. essential oil has potential anti-acne properties…
  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development – Nat Prod Res: “Phenols from Origanum dictamnus L. and Thymus vulgaris L. and their activity against Malassezia globosa carbonic anhydrase.”: Study on the inhibitory activity of phenols from Origanum…
  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development – J Microbiol Biotechnol: “Origanum vulgare and Thymus vulgaris Extract Usability to Improve Silage Hygienic Quality and Reduce Mycotoxin Concentrations.”: Evaluation of oregano (Origanum vulgare L.) and thyme…

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