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What to do with Flowering Oregano

Tiny oregano flowers with bee visiting

Flowering Oregano

Chances are that you’re here because you already have an oregano plant growing in your outdoor or indoor herb garden. Who can blame you! This perennial herb is easy to grow, lovely to look at, and it’s both an amazing edible and medicinal plant on top of it all!

Like many other perennial plants, oregano will go to flower each growing season. If you’re new to growing herbs, you may not know what to do when this happens. But fear not, this is a completely regular and cyclical occurrence for many plant types.

Throughout this article we’re going to go through some details about oregano, what it means when it goes to flower, and what you can do with those flower once it does!

Wild growing oregano leaves in lovely bushes

What is an Oregano Plant?

Oregano is a perennial herb that is part of the mint family (lamiaceae), making it cousins with other vital herbs like basil, sage, and thyme. Oregano is originally from the Mediterranean region, meaning that it loves heat and sunlight.

Oregano is adorned with small (usually ovular) leaves that are green and hairy, and they are arranged evenly along their stem. These zesty oregano leaves have quite a remarkable flavor to them, making them a highly essential culinary herb.

The overall growth habit of an oregano plant will vary according to the species and how happy it is. They can be anything from a ground-hugging trailing plant, to a 4 feet monster with woody stems.

The one thing that they all have in common, is their amazing little flower spikes. An oregano plant will usually bloom in the late spring or early summer. Though each flower is rather small – only 3-4mm each – they are all part of a quite impressive flower spike.

Oregano flowers are small and usually either pink, white, or purple in color. They have a toned down flavor and fragrance of oregano leaves, and carry much of the same nutrients as the leaves do.

Oregano plant with budding flowers in the summer time

Should you Let Oregano Flower?

Whether or not you decide to let your oregano plant go to flower, is entirely dependent on why you’re growing oregano in the first place. So we’re here to inform you exactly what flowering oregano means:

What does a flowering plant indicate?

Once the active growing season of a certain plant is reaching an end, it will ensure that its population can carry on by producing seeds. The plant does this by first producing a flower which will then be fertilized by a pollinator.

Annual plants, biennial plants, and perennial plants all do this. The main difference here is that an oregano plant will flower and produce seed, but it will also continue to grow itself as well.

For annual plants, once it has gone to flower, this is an indication that it has reached the end of its life cycle, and it will perish shortly after. However, its seed will sprout into a new plant with the same genetic makeup!

Should I let it go to flower?

Whether you simply don’t notice that the plant has started flowering or you can’t prune it in time, it’s really not that big of a deal, especially since folks usually have more than one growing oregano plant at a time.

If this does happen, there are plenty of things that you can do with oregano flowers (which we go over in the next section). Plus, the beneficial insects in the area will thank you for it!

If your oregano plant flowers, try to harvest the leaves as quickly as you can. The flavor will quickly degrade once the plant flowers, so you’ll want to harvest them soon! We have an article all about drying oregano sprigs here!

Otherwise, see if you can collect your spent flower heads once they start to turn brown and crumble. This way you can harvest seeds and keep them over the winter, so you can plant them the following spring.

Should I prevent oregano from flowering?

If you’re a diligent person, you can easily prevent your oregano plant from flowering. Even just regular leaf harvesting will prevent the plant from producing its flowers. It will also encourage a bushy and full shape which we love.

Preventing your plant from flowering will ensure that it will continue producing tasty foliage, but it also means that you won’t have any seeds to plant for next year. So it’s up to you if you want to keep your population growing, or not.

A person cutting flower in the garden.

What can you do with Oregano Flowers?

If you’ve come this far, chances are that you have accidentally let your oregano patch go to flower and you’re not too sure what to do with them! Turns out, there are 5 awesome ways to utilize those valuable oregano flowers:

1. Make a Flower Arrangement – before we get into the common uses, let’s go over some more unique ways to use oregano flowers!

These little flowers are beautiful to look at and lovely to smell. They make a great addition to flower bouquets, both dried or fresh. You can easily dry flowers by hanging them upside down in bundles in a sunny and dry area for a couple of weeks.

Adding oregano flowers to a bouquet adds a great country look, or adding them to potpourri or decorative wreath adds a lovely, spicy fragrance.

2. Cooking & Garnishing – not everyone knows that the majority of flowers that herbs grow are also edible and just as delicious as their leaves! They usually just have a toned down flavor to them.

Folks will often use oregano flowers as a gorgeous garnish to a cheese plate, salad, cocktail, or dessert. They also make a great addition to tomatoes, pasta sauce, or other types of tomato sauces.

3. Herbal Tea – oregano flowers make an incredible herbal tea with all sorts of medicinal benefits. You can either just use the dried leaves or add some dried flower to the mix to liven it up.

Oregano tea is said to help with cold symptoms, upset stomach, headaches, and many more. It is chalk full of antioxidants, antibacterial, antifugal, and anti-inflammatory properties.

4. Leave em’ Bee – you can always just leave the flowers in the garden and let them do their thing! The flowers will eventually crumble away and release their little oregano seed, which will then grow into their own little seedlings.

Additionally, beneficial insects and pollinators like bees, moths, butterflies, and hummingbirds will be especially grateful for these nectar-filled flower spikes.

5. Seed Saving – if you’re feeling keen on propagating your oregano patch, you should try your hand at seed saving! There is a short window of time to do this, so keep an eye out!

Wait until the flower heads have started to brown and crumble, but not so much that they’ve already released their seeds. From here, snip away the stem of the flower head you want, and gather them into bundles.

Take the stems and gather them into bundles with twine. Then, hang the bundles upside down in an area that receives direct sunlight and has a good draft. They should be completely dried out in about a week.

Then you can take the bundles and put them in a paper bag. Shake the paper bag around like you mean it until all of the plant matter has been crushed up. From here, pick out the seeds and keep them in an airtight container.

We have a full article on how to harvest oregano seeds here!

A close look at a bunch of potted oregano plants.

How do you Grow Oregano?

Growing oregano is super duper easy, and you can do it from seed, too! Think of what all of your expert gardener friends will say! All you need is:

  • seed starting tray
  • oregano seeds
  • mister
  • large, clear plastic bag
  • well draining potting soil

Once you have all these items, start out by filling the seed starting tray with some of that fertile, well-draining potting soil. Moisten the soil before you plant the seeds.

Place 2-3 oregano seeds per cell and very lightly cover the seeds with soil, as they need light in order to germinate. Maintain soil moisture by consistently misting the seedlings, and by covering the entire tray with a clear plastic bag to maintain humidiy.

The seeds should germinate in a short 10-15 days. Wait until a stem has reached at least 3-4 inches in height and has a set of true leaves before transplanting the seedling into a new pot, or outdoors. Make sure that you wait until the last threat of frost has passed before transplanting outdoors.

Pick a spot on your property that receives a ton of sunlight and is well protected from high winds for your new little oregano seedlings. They should be growing like crazy in no time!

Focus image on growing rosettes of oregano leaves

What are some Popular Types of Oregano?

Greek Oregano/Italian Oregano (Origanum Vulgare Hirtum) – Greek oregano is also known as Italian oregano because it is very commonly used in both Italian cuisine and Greek cuisine in tomato sauces, pasta sauce, marinades, olive oil vinaigrettes, and much more.

Origanum vulgare hirtum is a modest sized plant, only reaching about a foot tall, with small, olive green, ovular leaves that have that classic spicy/savory flavor. This is the more common oregano plant that you will often find in garden centres or grocery stores.

Common Oregano (Origanum Vulgare) – common oregano is exactly that, common oregano (but it is also known as wild marjoram). This is the one that folks use to make dried oregano spice, or it’s usually the variety that you’ll find in a seed packet.

Common oregano is a modest sized plant with small bright green foliage that are covered in fine hairs. Come early spring, the plant will blossom with tiny white flowers that smell lovely and taste great too.

Cretan Oregano (Origanum Onites) – Cretan oregano is often mistaken for Greek oregano because of its similar appearance and growing range. It is also referred to as wild marjoram from time to time. It is more often used to make essential oils because of its high antimicrobial activity, whereas other species are more frequently used as a culinary herb.

Lovely green leaves of a growing oregano plant


Is Mexican oregano true oregano?

Mexican oregano (lippia graveolens) is not a true oregano plant, but it gets that common name because it looks, tastes, smells, and is used in a very similar fashion as true oregano is. It is a small shrub that grows all throughout the southern United States and Mexico and has savory spicy leaves.

How do you use dried oregano?

Dry oregano is a very common ingredient that you’ll find in almost anyones pantry. Dry oregano is great because you can incorporate it into a sauce based with tomatoes, a stew, soup, or marinade early on and the leaves won’t wilt. It adds a great kick of savory flavor, though it is less punchy than fresh oregano.

Is it easy to make a dried flower arrangement?

If you’re keen on making a dried flower arrangement with dried oregano flowers, this can easily be accomplished. All you have to do is gather your flowers into bundles and tie them together with twine.

From here, pick a spot in your home that receives direct sunlight and has great aeration. Leave the bundles there for 1-2 weeks and they should be dry in no time.

What is oregano essential oil used for?

Oregano essential oil has been used in folk medicine for many centuries, and for good reason too! It is filled to the brim with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, it’s antifungal and antibacterial, and can help with pretty much any ailment you can think of.

How do you use the fresh leaves of an oregano plant?

Oregano is awesome either as a fresh herb or a dried herb. If you want to use the fresh leaves, it is better to incorporate them at the end of your cooking as a garnish or just before it is served.

This is because the fresh oregano leaves can brown or wilt if they’re left soaking in a super hot mixture for a long time.

What flower color is an oregano plant?

The flower color of an oregano plant will vary according to the species. White flowers are common, as well as light pink or purple flowers.

When is the best time for harvesting oregano?

Technically harvesting oregano can happen at any time, but there are specific times that you can harvest oregano to ensure that you get the tastiest foliage possible. It is best to harvest oregano before the plant has flowered, as this is when they taste best. Experts also say that gathering leaves in the early morning is the best time of day to do so, as they are the most saturated with their wonderful essential oils.