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how to grow oregano at home

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”).

Timing

Sprouts in 1-2 weeks. Harvest from Month 3+ on.

Full sun

Equivalent of 6+ hours of direct sun [DLI of 18+ mol/m²/day].

Care

Beginner friendly. You’ll sprout, thin, prune, and harvest.

Best Oregano varieties to grow inside.

Various plants such as oregano have a wide variety of uses. Oregano varieties can either be used in cooking or as an ornamental plant. Below are the four most popular oregano varieties:

Common Oregano

 

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

Syrian Oregano

 

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

Golden Oregano

 

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

Greek Oregano

 

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

Best Setup for Oregano Plants

You’ll need:

Planter: 

Ceramic Self Watering Planter (preferred) or pot that is at least 8″ / 1 gal.

Soil: 

Free-Draining Mix

Plant Food:

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).

Grow Light:

A strong grow light that can give the equivalent of 6+ hours of direct sun [DLI of 18+ mol/m²/day].

Jump to: Our product recommendations

Preparing your Planter & Watering Schedule for Oregano

Oregano plants 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. 

A Ceramic Self Watering Planter filled with a free-draining potting mix self-regulates to keep the soil on the drier side, but with a little consistent moisture (and means no watering guesswork for you). Careful of wick-based self-watering planters with Oregano – as they tend to be too wet.

To set one up:

preparing your planter
  1. Fill up the planter with dry soil from the bag, gently tamping down the top.
  2. Dump the soil into a large mixing bowl and add water until the soil is moist, but not sopping wet (about ½ Cup)
  3. Mix in 1 tablespoon of the Balanced Blend Plant Food.

If you are using a regular pot instead, it should be a little bit bigger (at least 8″” / 1 gal and will need drainage holes to prevent it from being over watered. Let the top of the soil dry out between watering.

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

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. 

Propagating Oregano: How to Clone from a Stem Cutting

how to clone oregano

If you’ve already got an Oregano plant you love (or a friend does!) you can easily “clone” it with just sharp scissors and a clean glass of water. First, cut a couple 6” shoots of new growth (avoid anything woody). Next, remove the lower leaves, so the bottom half is just stem. Place in a glass of 3” of water, making sure the cut leaf spots are underwater. Place the glass on a bright windowsill and change the water every few days. In a couple of weeks, roots should emerge and you can transplant them into your container. While using additional rooting hormones won’t hurt, it’s not necessary with Oregano plants. 

  1. Cut 6” section of new growth
  2. Remove leaves halfway and place them in the water on a sunny window sill 
  3. Wait 14-28 days for a few ½ inch roots to form and carefully transplant into it final container

How to Transplant Oregano

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.

  1. Remove some soil from its final planter – leaving enough space for the bottom of the seedling to be just higher than the soil surface.
  2. 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.  
  3. Place in its final container and fill around it with soil so that it’s tight, but not compacted.  

Where to grow your Oregano plants

While you should take advantage of the sun (it’s free and perfect for plants) there are limited circumstances where indoor natural light is enough for Oregano plants to grow well. A very bright window can cut your grow light needs in half, but if you want to grow lots of Oregano, you’ll still need one. For an introduction to grow lights, head over to our post on grow lights for indoor gardeners. We’ve also got a buying guide for screw in types, but to keep things simple in this guide, we’ll just provide directions for the 24W Screw in Bulb by Sansi, which we think is a good middle-of-the-road option.

how bright should your grow light be for oregano

How bright should your grow light be? 

Oregano plants need the equivalent of 6+ hours of direct sunlight [DLI of 18+ mol/m²/day] to grow their best. In order to provide an equivalent amount with a grow light, it needs to be pretty bright! The 24W Sansi bulb should be placed 6 inches away from the top of the plant. This will give your PPFD (the standard measure of brightness) of 500 μmol/m²/s.

How many hours per day do your Oregano plants need under a grow light?

Oregano plants are what’s known as “day-neutral” so can grow under a range of daylight lengths. In order for them to get enough light, we recommend setting up a timer to leave it on for 12+ hours per day.

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 anything between 55 and 90°F grows well.

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

how to thin oregano

Thin your planter to only have 1 seedling per site –  leaving the largest plant. If you are using the reccomended 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

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.

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 your rosemary in before the temperatures drop.

Shop This Blog

The right supplies can take the guesswork out of caring for your plants – and turn care from a daily to weekly routine. Through our grow tests, we’ve found these products to produce the best indoor Oregano (and also have simple maintenance).  Plants are adaptable and can grow in many different conditions, so they are by no means necessary if you already have other supplies.

Best Containers for Oregano: Ceramic Self Watering Planters

Plants thrive on consistent moisture but can suffer if they’re waterlogged. A semi-porous ceramic self regulates ideal conditions. Our favorite is the COSWIP planter. Runner up is XS Self Watering Planter by Wet Pot.

Best Soil for Oregano: Free Draining Mix

Oregano needs a drier environment – so you are better off using a free-draining cactus potting mix – we like this Organic Mix by Espoma

Best Nutrients for Oregano: Balanced Blend followed by Herb & Lettuce Blend

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

Best Light for Oregano: DIY or Soltech

There is a very small chance that you have the bright windows needed to grow these without a grow light. If you are looking for a higher-end option – we love the Aspect Light by Soltech. For a more affordable option, a DIY setup using a 24W Screw-in Bulb by Sansi with a Clamp Light and Mechanical Timer works well too.  Check out our complete guide on a DIY setup for less than $40 or our buying guide for screw in bulbs.

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