The kitchen herb oregano quickly grows from seed and can be divided and planted in pots or containers. Oregano is an asset to a garden as a culinary herb in Mediterranean dishes. In nature, oregano attracts bees and butterflies. It often is planted as a companion plant to stop aphid infestations on cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.
Oregano’s flavor lies in the leaves, which intensify when dried. The herb is of the mint family and is also known as wild marjoram. You’re undoubtedly familiar with the unmistakable flavor of oregano in pizzas. Oregano seeds are no larger than coarse sand grains and propagate best through over-seeding.
How to Plant Oregano in Pots or Containers
Six easy steps to germinate, grow, divide and plant oregano in pots or containers.
- Watering can
- Rich potting soil
- Germination trays
- Potsand containers
- Small-sized wooden spatulas or ice lolly sticks
- Marking pen
Step 1. Plant Oregano Seeds in Germination Trays
Oregano grows from seeds in rich and moist compost that’s well-drained. The seeds quickly germinate in heat on a windowsill, and though oregano sprouts rapidly, it grows slowly after that. The herb is a favorite among chefs and cooks.
Italians brag about oregano on pizzas, and Greek bolognese recipes can only do with oregano’s distinctive taste. The ancient Greeks named oregano the ‘joy of the mountain.’
If you want to grow your own, you can buy heirloom seeds or any at your local nursery and you can keep oregano seeds stored for a couple of years. Always ensure you have rich potting soil; investing in one or more germination trays is also good. Preparing the germination trays is crucial.
Various germination trays are on the market, and innovative gardeners even use paper egg boxes as seed trays. But the germination kits for beginner gardeners work well and come with soil and seeds. The bought germination trays have removable planting compartments that fit together and rest in a sub-tray. These compartments have drainage holes and are reusable.
The compartments fit into a base tray that holds water. Commercially available germination trays also have transparent dome lids. The lids mimic the functions of a hothouse for the germination process. The base tray collects excess water that drains off and can also be used as a water bath that feeds the seedling roots like hydroponics.
Start with good potting soil and fill the trays firmly with soil, not just loosely. The soil must be densely packed for the plants to grow. You must plug the soil, press it down, and then refill the container to get the proper density. You must repeat the filling of the containers and press the soil down firmly to prepare a bed for the seeds to land.
Ensure you have the right seeds and trays, and, as oregano seeds are no bigger than coarse sand grains, the preferred method of planting is over-seeding. Once the soil in a compartment is leveled, you must make two indentations in each of the seed box’s compartments. This is where you will deposit the seeds into.
Step 2. Over-Seeding as a Method for Oregano Propagation
How seeds germinate and grow differs depending on the type of plant developed. Oregano is a particular seedling type with tiny seeds. Seedboxes are also crucial for germinating and seedling production, as is the soil. The best soil is fine peat and perlite or vermiculite and must be moistened before use. You can easily add an organic fertilizer to the mix, too.
Seedboxes are commonly fitted with a convenient base tray, especially as the tiny oregano seeds can be easily washed away when you are watering the seeds. But with a tray filled with water underneath, the water seeps upwards and, through osmosis, moistens the germinating oregano seeds. The best condition for germinating the seeds is warm sunlight and regular watering.
A tried-and-tested method to plant tiny oregano seeds is over-seeding. It’s impractical to think that you can plant one seed at a time, especially when you see the seed size of oregano. To get the best results, you must over-seed the containers. When the many seeds, sometimes close to 30, germinate these grow close together to form a plug of growth.
Start the process of planting and germinating as early as ten weeks before your season to plant these in pots or containers. You will see that you can do multiple divisions of the sprouting seedlings as these get sturdy and are transplantable into pots and containers. With each division, you thin out the number of seedlings growing.
To do the planting, you must stack the seeds in a single hole in a container. You can quickly drop in between 20 to 30 oregano seeds to germinate in one plug in a container. The method of over-seeding is the easiest way to grow oregano because of the tiny seeds.
Oregano is a hardy herb that germinates quickly. After that, the seedlings grow slowly but are sturdy and can easily be divided by gently tearing the roots apart and separating the seedlings into pots and containers.
You need to start and drop at least 20 to 30 seeds into each of the two shallow indentations you’ve made in each container. You'll be surprised that a pinch of seeds can yield between 20 and 30. When germinating forms a plug of roots that easily divides into at least that number of individual plants.
Once sown, the seeds take a week or two to germinate and then grow slowly for 6 to 8 weeks before needing to be transplanted. A full-grown oregano plant reaches between 8 to 31 inches tall with a leaf size of between 1 and 1.5 inches long.
Start the seed planting process by tipping about a teaspoon full of seeds in your hand. And with the other hand, take a pinch of oregano seeds, roll these between your fingers and drop the seeds into shallow indentations you’ve made in the soil with your thumb. A good test that the soil is well-packed is that it’s not fluffy. On a solid planting base, oregano is hardy.
Step 3. Gently Cover the Freshly Planted Seeds
Once you have dropped the seeds into one of the shallow holes you have made, you must cover these with potting soil. You must take a small handful of soil and sprinkle it over the seeds you've dropped into each indentation. You can spread the soil over the seeds by hand.
You can also use a small wooden spatula or ice lolly stick to carefully lift the soil and ensure the soil covers the seeds. When you are using the method of over-seeding, the seeds fall just where they need to be. Mixing the seeds and the soil and covering these ensure that the seeds are adequately protected and ready for germination.
Step 4. Use Your Thumb to Gently Press Down the Soil
Once you've covered the seeds with soil and worked the soil right into the two indentations where the seeds are, you can use your thumb to smooth the soil down. You can smooth the area with your thumb and press down to get the area firm above the seeds. You must avoid ending up compacting the soil, though.
All that’s needed is a few slow and light movements to press down on the soil and to keep the seeds safely inside for germination.
Step 5. Use a Wooden Spatula With Dates as Markers
It’s important to know when you planted the seeds as this will indicate when you can expect the seedlings to mature. You might also plant the seeds at various stages, and the seedlings will grow at different stages. Label a wooden lolly stick with a date. Grab a pen and write the date straight after you have sown the seeds.
Step 6. Watering Seedlings From Base Germination Tray
The different compartments in the seed box are removable. It is easy to take these out and check on the water level below. It is also convenient to not pour water on the seeds and wash them away. The watering of the seeds can be done from the bottom tray as the container with the two seed plugs sits in the water.
You can also put water with an organic fertilizer in the base tray and feed the germinating seeds and maturing seedlings. The containers with the seeds plugs are easy to remove. You can check on the moisture levels; if these are correct, you must pour out the excess water.
It would help if you didn't overwater the seedlings in either the germination stage or when they grow. And the beauty of over-seeding is that your crop of oregano plants will be plenty. The oregano plants are sturdy when they grow up and can easily be divided.
You can pull out a plug of oregano seedlings and divide these from the roots and then plant these in pots and containers. You can plant these in smaller pots and then replant these in containers.
For beginner and seasoned gardeners, the crop of oregano plants that grow from over-seeding in a plug of seedlings is a sight of joy. And you can look forward to harvesting the leaves by pinching them out with your thumb and forefinger or using scissors to cut a good-sized bunch.
Great Herbs! How to Seed Start Oregano Indoors: Over Seeding Method! – MFG 2014
TRG 2016: The Over-Seeding Approach To Garden Herbs: An Oregano Example
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