How to Grow Oregano Outdoors
Unsurprisingly, Greek Oregano was originally grown in Greece. It was believed to be created by the Goddess Aphrodite, who denoted it as a symbol of joy (the name is from the Greek words oros and gonos, in entirety meaning “joy of the mountains”).
In this blog, we’ll be talking about everything related to growing oregano outdoors, from the basic facts, supplies, setup, and steps to grow, care for and harvest it, and gardening zones in the US and how they can impact outdoor gardening.
Oregano sprouts in 1-2 weeks then they can be harvested from Month 3+ on.
Oregano needs an equivalent of 6+ hours of direct sun [DLI of 18+ mol/m²/day]..
Growing oregano outdoors is beginner friendly, but it can involve a few more steps compared to growing it indoors. You’ll sprout, thin, prune, and harvest, and maybe try to get rid of pests and other problems from time to time.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Ways to Grow Oregano Outdoors
Growing Oregano Indoors Using Soil
Oregano plants, unlike basil, don’t do well in moist soil conditions. The roots are not accustomed to being too wet and will rot in boggy conditions. On the other hand, if the soil dries out completely the roots will die back and the plant won’t recover. This can catch you off guard because the plant’s not very expressive (its leaves don’t wilt) so it will look fine right up until it dies.
You have two options to choose from when growing oregano outdoors:
- plant directly onto soil, or
- use a container - with drainage!
If you prefer planting directly onto soil, you can use potting mixes you can buy from stores or online, or you can also create your own. In this blog, we explained how to create your own potting mix. Just remember that even though herbs such as oregano are “Light Feeders” they still need nutrient-rich soil, so if you don’t have that, you can also look into incorporating plant foods or fertilizers.
We prefer using containers as we have more control over the growth of herbs by using this method. iI you opt for containers, they should have good drainage as herbs such as oregano thrive well in this kind of environment.
If you’re not sure what size of pot or container to use for your herbs, check this out.
You can also see the table comparison below about the pros and cons of soil and containers:
Soil (in ground)
Other Ways to Grow Oregano Outdoors
Best Gardening Zones for Growing Oregano Outdoors
Oregano can be grown in most areas as they are sun-loving herbs that can adapt to a wide range of temperatures, but the most recommended zones are zones 4-10.
You can also check out how to grow oregano indoors if you’d like your oregano plants to be transplanted or grown indoors instead.
Care and Maintenance of Oregano Outdoors
Lighting for Growing Oregano Outdoors
Oregano plants are sun-loving herbs, meaning they need lots of light – but since you’ll be growing them outdoors, you just need to make sure that they would be put in a very bright place that gets at least 6+ hours of direct sunshine.
What is The Right Temperature for Your Outdoor Oregano Plant?
Oregano Plants Grow Faster in Warmer Temps
Oregano plants are called “warm-weather crops” and will speed up their metabolism when temperatures are warmer. On the other hand, if things get too hot they’ll wilt and become prone to disease. Ideal temperatures are around 70°F but in anything between 55 and 90°F it grows well.
Water and Humidity: How Often to Water Oregano Outdoors
Herbs such as oregano thrive on adequate moisture but can suffer if they’re waterlogged, so make sure to water them regularly. To avoid your outdoor oregano plant becoming waterlogged, make sure to use a pot with drainage, or just use ollas, as mentioned above.
Nutrients and Fertilizers
Oregano likes to start with nutrients that are equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (with NPK numbers like 10-10-10). For this Balanced Blend we recommend: Dr Earth All Purpose
Once they are growing, it’s better to use plant food that is high in nitrogen (with NPK numbers like 10-5-5). For this Herb Blend we recommend: Joyful Dirt All Purpose
Moving Your Outdoor Oregano Plant Indoors
Oregano mostly thrives in warm temperatures, as we talked about above, so we suggest moving your oregano plant indoors only when the temperature is too cold for its liking. To learn more about how to grow your oregano indoors, check this out.
Common Problems with Growing Oregano Outdoors
As you’ll be growing your oregano outdoors, you need to keep in mind that you might encounter pests such as spider mites and aphids.
To learn more about managing these pest problems for oregano, check this article out from gardeningknowhow.
Growing plants outdoors or outdoors can bring risks to your plants to also have diseases, such as root rot or leaf rot.
There are various solutions for these diseases and to know more about them, you can read through this helpful article from gardeningknowhow.com.
Timeline and Steps on How to Grow Oregano Outdoors
Best Setup for Outdoor Oregano Plants
Below is the best setup (and a very easy one!) for growing your oregano plants outdoors. You’ll need:
Ceramic Self Watering Planter or a pot that is at least 8″ / 1 gal. Raised beds and ollas can are also great choices.
At the start: Balanced Blend. This should be equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (with NPK numbers like 10-10-10).
Ongoing: Herb Blend. This should be high in nitrogen (with NPK numbers like 10-5-5).
Starting your Oregano: Seed vs Cutting vs Nursery Plant
New Oregano plants can be started from seed, propagated from an established plant, or purchased live at many garden centers. We prefer to sprout from seed or propagate from a stem cutting, as it results in plants that are adapted to your growing conditions and limit the chances that you accidentally bring home pests.)
How to Plant Oregano seeds
Oregano grows quickly from seed. Plant 1 site in an 8" / 1 gal container. In larger containers, space sites 8" apart. For each site press 2 seeds into the surface. Keep the soil warm ( 60-80°F, ideally 70°F). Sprouts typically appear in 12 days but can be as quick as 10 days or as long as 15 days depending on your conditions. Don't cover the seeds as light helps them sprout.
How to Transplant Oregano
Live starter plants give you a big jump start on your first harvest. When you’re in a garden center - pick the bushiest plant available (tall and lanky ones will be weak growers) and give it a good inspection for pests.
Leaves should be dark green without holes, spots, or curled edges. A best practice is to actually “quarantine” your plant for about a week after bringing it home to make sure it's free and clear of ride-on pests.
Ensuring it’s pest and disease-free it’s time to transplant your seedling into its final home.
- Remove some soil from its final planter - leaving enough space for the bottom of the seedling to be just higher than the soil surface.
- Hold on to the base of the stem with one hand, and turn the pot over while gently pulling the seedling. Giving the pot a few squeezes can help dislodge it.
- Place in its final container and fill around it with soil so that it’s tight, but not compacted.
Week 1-2: Check for Sprouts
You could see seedlings in as little as 10 days (though 12 days is more typical). If it’s been 15 days and you still don’t have any sprouts, it’s likely that your setup is too cold.
Week 4: Thin Your Seedlings
Thin your planter to only have 1 seedling per site - leaving the largest plant. If you are using the recommended planter (at least 8" / 1 gal) this will mean you’ve got 1 plant after thinning. By getting rid of the smaller seedlings, you’re allowing the biggest and strongest one to flourish by reducing its competition for water, food, and space.
If your seedlings are under 1 inch, stretching out, or folding over, it’s likely that they don't have quite enough light.
Month 2: How to Prune Oregano Plants
Once your Oregano plant has 3 sets of mature leaves you’re ready for your prune. Cut off the top set of mature leaves, leaving the bottom two (it’s best to cut right above the pair of leaves you’re keeping on the plant).
Once these branches grow out (and each has a few sets of their own leaves) you can cut the tip - just as you did with the main stem. At this point your plant will be fairly well shaped, so hone your inner Bonzi master and use your thinning and heading cuts to harvest and shape your herbs as you go.
Month 3+: How to Harvest Oregano
After 4 months you can make a small harvest of stem tips. After 6 months you should be able to harvest bunches. Let the soil dry out between watering.
How to Use Your Freshly-harvested Oregano in Cooking
Oregano is more than just being everyone’s favorite topping on pizza! These pungent herbs with a sweet and almost minty taste can be used in many other ways such as:
- Garnish or toppings to various dishes such as pasta, seafood, etc.
- Making pesto
- Making dips or sauces
Check out some more of our favorite oregano recipes here.
How to Preserve Oregano
There are several ways to preserve or keep your herbs fresh, and here are just some of the easiest and the ones we recommend the most:
- Lazy person technique. It involves keeping the fresh herbs in their original packaging and simply storing them in the fridge.
- Storing the herbs in a glass of water inside the fridge. You can do this by cutting the end of the stem of your herb, filling a glass jar or cup with water, and placing your herb inside. Almost like a vase or bouquet of herbs!
- Keep in a glass of water under natural lighting.
- Wrap loosely in a damp paper towel.
- Freeze them herbs! Yes, you can freeze fresh herbs such as oregano to use at a later time! All you need are some ice cube trays and a freezer, and you’re all set.
Learn more about how to preserve and keep your herbs and oregano fresh here.
Year 10+: End of Life
Oregano can live for a very very long time if the conditions are right. If you live somewhere with colder winters and are growing outside, be sure to bring them in before the temperatures drop.
If you’d like to learn about the dozens of other herbs, fruits, and vegetables that you can grow indoors or outdoors, then grab a copy of our free eBook below.
Best Oregano Varieties to Grow Outdoors
Plants such as oregano have a wide variety of uses. Oregano varieties can either be used in cooking or as ornamental plants. Below are the four most popular oregano varieties:
This variety serves as the most common oregano species and also comes by the name wild marjoram or true oregano. It’s a dynamic grower with a mild flavor.Amazon
It has a strong flavor, and it’s popular in Middle Eastern cuisine, mainly used for vegetable and meat recipes, but can also be used in any recipe that calls for common oregano.Amazon
This oregano variety can be used as an ornamental plant. It’s a creeping herb that has foliage in shades of gold.Green Patch Seeds
This variety has an earthy and pungent flavor, and it’s used mainly in Italian and Greek dishes. It’s commonly used to flavor meat, fish, and tomato sauce, and pizza recipes.Urban Leaf
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