Deliciously aromatic foliage
Days to Maturity: 90 to 100 from direct sow; 60 from transplant
You will smell it before you see it, and that’s just the start of the feast for the senses this oregano delivers in your garden. An edible ornamental perennial with beautiful blooms, good branching, and attractive foliage, this herb can be grown among the flowering plants in the sunny, dry garden. But be sure to keep at least a few just for cooking, because these large leaves are packed with flavor.
One of the most important herbs of Italian, Greek, and Mexican cooking, oregano is at the heart of all the great tomato sauces, vegetable dishes, and countless other culinary triumphs. It is most strongly flavored when dried, not fresh, so you may choose to harvest this plant whole, in midsummer, and dry the foliage. Or you may want to cut the individual leaves as needed, all season long, beginning when the plant is just 6 inches high (less than 2 months from sowing). And those are just the culinary options . . . then there are the ornamental uses of this beauty, in containers as well as the garden. Thank goodness you get 100 seeds per packet.
Oregano is a perennial that thrives in full sunshine and well-drained soil on the dry side. Once it’s established in your garden, let the soil dry out between watering’s, and when you do water, make sure to do it long and deep, to encourage the roots to grow far down into the soil and find their own sources of water. If you live in a rainy climate, mound up the soil before planting your oregano, and make sure the drainage is really sharp. For those of us in thirsty gardens with long summers, a plant that likes its soil dry is a pure blessing.
Oregano has a useful culinary life of four or five years. So unless you want to grow it as an annual and harvest the entire plant for drying in midsummer (a good option for space-challenged gardens, because you can replace the oregano with fall plants each year), let one or two plants flower and go to seed each year, bringing you many new oregano seedlings the following spring. Thin or transplant them, and you will always have new young plants to replace those that “age out” of the garden.
The key to keeping the flavor of the leaves at its peak is to pinch out any flower buds you see forming on the plant immediately (unless you are growing the plant to go to seed). Flowering really reduces the flavor of the foliage, so you don’t want your plants to reach that stage at all. The other key is to trim your plants every couple weeks, even if you aren’t cutting the stems for use in the kitchen. Being pruned reminds the plant to send up fresh new branches, bursting with rich flavor.
Expect oregano to reach 12 to 18 inches high and wide in the garden, with broad 1?-inch leaves. This plant fills a 10-inch container perfectly. But if you have smaller containers and/or want to grow it in the kitchen windowsill as part of your culinary herb garden, it is easy to keep oregano smaller. Every few weeks, pinch off the tip of the central stem of the plant. This encourages side-shoots to grow, and also keeps the plant short. You’ll find you can grow a very compact oregano with all the flavor and appeal of its full-sized cousins.
You will know your oregano is reaching the end of its culinary life when the stems become woody. The plant is also quite attractive at this point, so you have the option to leave it alone and let it be an ornamental, bringing butterflies and bees into the garden with its bright purple blooms, or you can cull it. Either way, this is a perennial that is as lovely as it is useful, and will bring you years of pleasure wherever you grow it.
Sow seeds in well-drained to dry, neutral to alkaline soil in full sun, or start them indoors in your Bio Dome or seed flats. Transplant when the seedlings have at least 2 sets of true leaves.
(P)Pkt of 100 seeds
Item Form:(P)?Pkt of 100 seeds
Zone:5 – 10
Bloom Start to End:Mid Summer
Days to Maturity:100
Seeds Per Pack:100
Plant Height:12 in – 18 in
Plant Width:12 in – 18 in
Additional Characteristics:Easy Care Plants,?Edible,?Flower,?Butterfly Lovers,?Fragrance,?Herbs,?Cut-and-Come-Again,?Pest Fighter,?Rose Companions
Foliage Color:Dark Green
Harvest Season:Early Summer,?Late Summer,?Mid Summer
Light Requirements:Full Sun
Moisture Requirements:Moist,? well-drained,?Dry
Resistance:Drought Tolerant,?Heat Tolerant,?Humidity Tolerant,?Pest Resistant,?Disease Resistant,?Cold Hardy
Soil Tolerance:Normal,? loamy