How to Grow Origanum Plants

Guide to Growing Oregano and Marjoram

Origanum members are popular herbs that are often used in the kitchen.

Depending on the Origanum species they may be hardy perennial, or half hardy perennials; but are often grown in the garden as half hardy annuals.

Origanum reach from 15 to 45 cm (6 to 18 inches) in height and bear pink tubular flowers in the Summer.

Some common names for Origanum include Oregano (Origanum vulgare), Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana), Annual Marjoram, and Marjoram.


Sweet Marjoram

These plants make ideal additions to an herb garden, but are also useful in rockeries. If you require the Origanum leaves for cooking then they should be harvested before flowering occurs.

Unlike many herbs which are best used fresh, drying the Origanum leaves often leads to a more intense flavour.

To dry Oregano leaves place in a warm and dark place. In addition to use in cooking, the oil of oregano is also thought to have many health benefits.

Origanum vulgare
Origanum vulgare – Oregano by Anemoneprojectors; creative commons.

Origanum Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Oregano, Marjoram: Sweet; Knotted; Italian; Pot; Wild; Hop; Greek; Flowering; Winter.
Life Cycle: Hardy perennial, half hardy perennial commonly grown as a half hardy annual by gardeners.
Height: 8 to 30 inches (20 to 80 cm).
Native: Mediterranean, East Asia.
Growing Region: Zones 2 to 9. As a perennial in zones 4 to 9.

Flowers: Summer.
Flower Details: Purple, pink. Tiny. Spikes
Foliage: Glossy green. Dark to pale green. Greyish. Ovate. Rounded. Sometimes hairy. Aromatic.

Sow Outside: Cover seed. A few weeks after the last frost; temperature should not drop below 46°F (8°C). Spacing 6 to 24 inches (15 to 60 cm).
Sow Inside: Germination time: one to two weeks. Temperature 60°F (15°C). Seven or eight weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors a few weeks after the last frost.

Requirements: Full sunlight. Good drainage. Soil pH 6 to 8.5. Can survive in dry soils. Pinch tips. Spring feed. Harvest stems before flowering occurs. Propagate: dividing or cuttings in the spring.
Family: Lamiaceae.
Miscellaneous: Some species are known to spread so you may want to grow in a pot or as part of a confined herb garden.

How to Grow Oregano and Sweet Marjoram in Your Garden

It growing oregano outdoors from seeds then it is best to sow the Oregano seeds (Sweet Marjoram and other Origanum species) in mid spring, well past any chance of a frost.

Once sown, the seeds should be lightly covered with soil. Oregano likes to grow in a sunny area of the garden and requires good drainage. Ideally the soil should be of pH 6 to 8.

When starting Oregano indoors, sow the seeds at about 12 to 18 degrees Centigrade (54 to 64°F). It should take about one to two weeks for the oregano seeds to germinate.

Plant oregano outdoors with a spacing of about 20 to 30 cm (8 to 12 inches) apart. Doing this following the last frost of spring should give best results.

Caring for Oregano (Origanum)

Oregano, Sweet Marjoram and other Origanum members are easy to grow and care for.

Once they are growing healthily, it is best to pinch the young plants back. This will encourage more branching and lead to a bigger harvest.

It is also necessary to fertilize Oregano plants for best results.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Origanum plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Melissa, Salvia, and Ocimum plants.