A favorite herb of chefs who prepare Spanish, Greek, and Italian cuisine, oregano is a beautiful houseplant even if you never use it for cooking. It has an attractive trailing growth habit, oval-shaped dark green leaves, and a welcoming, spicy fragrance. If you are starting an indoor herb garden, oregano definitely needs to be included on the list of favorite herbs to grow.
The plant will give you attractive, fragrant foliage and, if you let it flower, you may enjoy pretty white, purple, or light pink blooms to enjoy in your home.
How to Grow Oregano
Oregano grows very easily. Since it originated in places that are a bit hot and dry, this is one plant that can take a bit of benign neglect. You do not have to pamper this low-maintenance plant. All it needs is a pot of well-draining, light soil that has drainage holes, six to eight hours of bright sunlight, and watering when the surface of the soil gets a bit dry.
It has very few insect pests and suffers from hardly any diseases. Oregano is one plant that is as tough as it is beautiful, and if you are a person who has had bad luck with plants, oregano might be just the one that you can keep alive.
Getting New Oregano Plants
To get new oregano plants, you have a few options. The first and easiest option is to buy an existing plant from the garden center of your favorite hardware store. These plants are usually available in the spring and summer months.
They often cost between four and eight dollars for a small plant that is about four inches across. These plants will quickly grow to a larger size if you give them good care.
Another way to get an oregano plant is to get a cutting from someone who has an oregano plant. You can snip a four to six inch stem off of an existing plant, strip the leaves off of the bottom 2 inches of the plant, and put it in a glass of water. The stem will eventually grow roots and you can plant the stem in a pot.
This approach takes some patience because it will be several months before your plant is large enough to harvest snippets of oregano from it.
However, what if it is the dead of winter and you want to grow oregano? There won’t be any available in the store until spring and you don’t want to wait that long. What if you don’t know anyone who has a plant from which you can get a cutting?
If you are desperate to grow oregano, you have a final option. You can grow your oregano from seeds. You can order seeds almost all year long from online seed retailers and start your plants whenever you feel like it without having to wait for plants to be available in the store.
While some plants struggle to grow from seeds, oregano plants are one herb that grows very easily from seeds. The seeds of the oregano plant are tiny, like the size of a speck of dirt, but there is plenty of life in these itsy bitsy fragments of plant matter.
Getting the conditions just right for your seeds can increase your germination rate. By considering the following factors, you will have success in germination of your oregano seeds.
Use Care in Selecting Your Seeds
When you grow oregano from seeds, you can save plenty of money instead of buying full-grown plants. However, you don’t want to go too cheap when you buy seeds. Avoid buying seeds at places like the dollar store.
While you may have some luck with these seeds, it’s actually better to pay a bit more and buy your seeds from a reputable seed supplier. Seed companies like Ferry Morse, Burpee, and others have been selling seeds for decades and if you have a problem, these companies often have money back guarantees.
Good quality seeds will have an increased germination rate and you will be able to count on getting good plants from these companies.
Also, when you buy seeds in the store, make sure that the packet is labeled for the current growing year. You do not want to buy last year’s seeds, even if they are on the discount rack, because viability decreases over time.
Choosing the Correct Potting Soil
For oregano seeds to germinate well, you have to keep them moist. Therefore, you will need a seed starting surface that absorbs moisture like a sponge. Any standard potting soil will be able to handle this job. Garden soil may dry out too quickly, so don’t just go and dig up a scoop of dirt from your backyard. You want something that is light and fluffy and absorbent.
You can also grow your oregano seedlings using peat pellets. These seed starters come in small compressed discs that you will wet with warm water. When they are wet, they will swell to a spongy ball of peat moss.
You can sprinkle the oregano seeds on the surface of the peat ball and they will grow there very well. You can buy special seed starting trays that are perfectly designed for using peat pellets.
Sowing Your Seeds Correctly
Sow your oregano seeds on the surface of pre-dampened potting soil or the peat pellets. Oregano seeds are so small that pre-dampening the surface will keep you from dislodging the seeds when you water. You will not be able to dig holes and plant seeds with oregano seeds.
They are just too small. Therefore, just sprinkle the seeds on the surface of the soil and lightly cover them with about an eighth of an inch of soil. If the plants grow too closely, you can thin them out later.
Seed Starting Heat Mat
Oregano seeds are warm weather seeds and they will germinate better if the soil is warm. Warm, in this case, means about 70 degrees. However, if your apartment is a bit chillier than that, have no fear.
You can buy a gadget that is designed to keep the seeds warm called a seedling heat mat. These mats are specially designed to keep the soil nice and toasty so that your oregano seeds will have the greatest chance of sprouting.
Some people who don’t have a seedling heat mat place their seed trays in a warm place, like on a radiator or on top of the refrigerator. Other people may use a heating pad to keep their seed trays warm.
If you use a heating pad, lay a kitchen towel on top of the heating pad before you place the tray on it to provide some insulation.Set the heating pad to low heat and keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get overheated.
If you use any of these methods to warm your seed trays, cover the tray with a plastic lid or layer of plastic wrap to help the soil stay moist and prevent it from drying out.
Oregano seeds sprout better when they are placed in the sun. Again, the warmth helps with germination, and sunshine assists in germination. Put your seed trays in a sunny window or you can use grow lights to provide supplemental light.
Mature oregano plants can handle drier conditions, but when you are trying to start seeds, moisture is key. Keep the surface of the seed starting medium evenly moist. To dampen the soil without disturbing the seeds, mist the soil with a spray bottle every few days or when the soil begins to look dry.
To keep the soil from drying out so much, cover the seed starting tray with plastic wrap. Many seed starting trays have clear plastic lids that will help keep the soil moist.
Growing oregano is easy, and starting your oregano plants from seeds is very gratifying. When you do this herb gardening project, you will get to observe the whole plant growing process from start to finish.
Give your oregano seeds the right conditions and you will soon be rewarded with tiny leaves poking from the soil. These leaves will eventually become gorgeous, healthy, fragrant plants that you can use in your kitchen.