Oregano has many culinary and medicinal uses and can be the backbone of many soups, salads, and, of course, sauces like those that grace the tops of pizzas.
What soil type is best for growing oregano?
Best suited to dry, hot climates, oregano prefers soil that is well-draining and rich in nutrients. While oregano will readily grow in poor and even rocky soils, it will thrive in soil that is high in organic matter and well-composted green waste as long as water drains quickly.
This is not a difficult herb to grow, and with a handful of tips, you can find success in both garden and container environments.
Oregano Growing Conditions
Oregano is traditionally found in the warm climates of the Mediterranean and loves sunshine, warm summers, and mild winters. It also grows best with plenty of nutrients and soil that drains freely.
Ideal Soil for Oregano
If you have a garden where other food plants are already thriving, then you can be sure that oregano will thrive also. For containers, a specialty organic potting mix is required for best results. Most local nurseries will carry bagged or per-the-ton soil that has been tested and is suitable for all garden applications.
Organo is actually very well suited to poor growing conditions provided there is enough light. You can find this herb all over the Mediterranean coast growing in the rockiest, harshest environments, but it will really come to life with good soil.
Good soils mean those with plenty of nutrients for the plant to grow and those that do not retain excessive water as oregano strongly dislikes wet feet.
A neutral soil pH is best for growing oregano. This means a pH of around 7.0 or slightly more alkaline. Most all-purpose potting mixes will have the right soil pH balance already, so no need to worry about that.
Soil Nutrients and Organic Matter
For container growing, soil mixes like these have everything a plant, including oregano, needs for growing vigorously. In the garden, plenty of compost and composted manure will give you abundant harvests.
There are gardeners who maintain that coming from such harsh environments, this herb will become stressed with an abundance of nutrients and good soil; however, we have not found this to be the case. When it comes to love and attention, oregano will certainly do much better when given plenty.
Oregano Light Requirements
While 6 hours of sunlight is often cited as a minimum for plant growth, oregano really needs a minimum of 8 hours to produce abundant foliage. Keep in mind the sun’s movements during the different seasons and whether your oregano plant will be shaded out by other plants in the garden as it stays very close to the ground and cannot compete for light.
Oregano Water Requirements
For best results, you should water your plant at least once a week if there is no natural rainfall. This is especially the case for container growing as pots will dry out far sooner than garden soils.
However, oregano has the ability to die back and regenerate during prolonged days without rainfall.
Natural is always best, so try to stick with organic compost or, even better, homemade compost. Another method of fertilization that is increasingly popular is making your own compost tea. To make this, simply add compost to a bucket of water, and let sit for a day or two.
The microbes and nutrients found in this water are essential for maintaining healthy plants, and your garden will love you for it.
For oregano in pots, organic, slow-release fertilizers, like these fertilizer spikes, are an excellent choice.
How To Amend Soil for Oregano
Amending soil to suit the needs of your plants is something most gardeners go through. Thankfully, it is usually a straightforward process that can be achieved affordably.
If soil is too alkaline, a good application of organic manure, like chicken droppings or sheep manure, can lower your soil pH. On the other hand, if soil is too acidic, continuous applications of compost will help to raise soil pH over time.
Practicing a no-dig gardening method with the use of mulches and compost will ensure that your garden soil remains neutral and healthy. Prevention is always better than cure.
Oregano Growing Tips
Oregano will continue to grow for years, so plant it in a place where it can do its own thing without being disturbed by maintenance or other plants.
While it can be a plant that battles the extremes of nature, it will remain small and scraggly if not properly cared for. Proper care includes maintaining healthy soil, providing direct sunlight, watering regularly, and pruning to promote strong regrowth.
As a wild plant, oregano is naturally suited to be grazed on and pruned, so it really doesn’t mind a heavy-handed cutback.
This is a step best performed during the cooler months while the plant growth has slowed down. To prune oregano, you can either pick it throughout the growing seasons to promote growth or cut it right back almost to ground level.
Once it has been cut back, fork the soil to aerate, add organic compost, and water deeply. Now sit back, water regularly, and wait for the lush green growth to reappear in spring.
How Long Does Oregano Take To Grow?
It takes around two months for oregano to grow to maturity from seed; however, it is best left until it has plenty of foliage to harvest.
How Tall Does Oregano Grow?
Oregano will remain close to the ground topping out around 10 inches or so high. However, it can cascade down a rock wall or over a pot at a length of around 1 foot.
Does Oregano Spread?
Yes! Oregano definitely spreads if given the chance; however, is less invasive than related herbs such as mint.
It is often the case for hot climate herbs that less is more, and they will grow just fine if left alone. However, oregano will produce even more abundantly if pruned yearly, given organic compost, and placed in a sunny position.
If you are interested in the medicinal benefits of this ancient herb, why not check out our other article on the uses of oregano tea?