Whether you're a seasoned chef or a beginner cook, oregano is excellent to have on hand. This native to the Mediterranean region versatile herb is the key ingredient in many Greek and Italian dishes and has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb. It grows into a bushy perennial with erect stems and hairy bright green foliage. Its purple flowers attract wildlife into your garden when they appear in summer.
Oregano sometimes called "wild marjoram", brings a strong, aromatic flavour to tomato-based recipes. The leaves are dark green and slightly hairy, with a gentle undulation.
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Oregano (Origanum Vulgare) is a flowering plant in the mint family (Lamiaceae) that originated from the Mediterranean hills before moving on to the rest of the world. The name comes from the Greek words "oros" and "ganos", which mean "mountain" and "joy". In ancient times, this herb was believed to symbolise happiness. It was also used to combat sadness and bring luck.
Greeks even thought oregano was created by Aphrodite - the goddess of love. So it was woven into crowns worn by couples during their wedding ceremonies.
Oregano Herb Plants - Growing
There are many varieties of oregano worth growing in the herb garden, such as golden, cream, Greek, hot & spicy. Growing oregano in free-draining soil or compost in sunny, sheltered spots is best. If you want to have a denser and bushier plant, you should allow it to grow to about 4 inches tall and then pinch or trim it lightly regularly.
As oregano plants are a bit more drought-tolerant than other herbs, water when the soil feels dry to the touch. Remember that it is better to water thoroughly than to water too often.
Top tip: if you grow oregano in containers, water until the water comes out of the drainage holes in the bottom. Keep pots indoors over the winter and cut dead stems in the spring before new growth.
To ensure the best-quality plants, do not forget to thin out plants that are 3 or 4 years old in early spring. As oregano is self-seeding, the plants will easily grow back healthier and more productive.
Oregano Herb Plants- Harvesting
When harvesting oregano leaves, use sharp shears and only harvest one-third of the plant at a time, so it can continue to grow.
There's no better time to enjoy its flavour than mid-summer. That's when the leaves are at their most flavorful, right before the flowers bloom. Drying oregano leaves is a great way to make them last, but you can also freeze them.