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Pasta and pizza wouldn’t be the same without the beautifully herbaceous flavor of oregano. It is well known that this tiny herb packs a punch when it comes to flavorful cuisine, but it is not a commonly known fact that it is also an easy-to-care-for and charming plant. Let’s take some time to learn just how easy it is to care for an oregano plant.
How to Identify Italian Oregano
When identifying Italian Oregano, look for these key identifiers:
- Leaves that are oblong-shaped
- Leaves that are soft and green
- Leaves with an herbaceous fragrance
- Stems that are firm and straight
- Stems that grow clusters of tiny leaves
- Stems that produce rose-pink flowers in the summer
How to Grow Italian Oregano from Seed
- Purchase seeds from a reputable seller
- Fill a seed starter tray with seed starter soil
- Set the seeds on top of the soil
- Lightly cover the seeds with the soil (the seeds need access to sunlight so don’t cover them deeply)
- Moisten the soil slightly
- Cover the tray with plastic to hold in moisture
- Place the tray in a warm area with access to full sunlight
- Keep the soil moist
- Transplant outdoors when temperatures stay above 45 degrees Fahrenheit
How to Propagate Italian Oregano from Cuttings
- Use a sterile cutting utensil to cut a 3 to 5-inch stem from a plant (be sure the stem has leaves and nodes on it)
- Remove the lower leaves from the bottom two-thirds of the stem (be sure there are at least two leaves left on top)
- Set the cutting in a clear container filled with water
- Place the container in a warm and sunny area
- Transplant the cutting to the soil once a root system has developed
- Treat the plant as a mature plant once it is in the soil
Note: This method of propagation is best done in spring or early summer
How to Propagate Italian Oregano from Division
- Prepare a container or a garden bed for planting a new oregano plant
- Gently remove an oregano plant from its container or its garden bed
- Use a sterile cutting utensil to divide the plant’s root system into two or more plants
- Replant the divisions as soon as possible
- Water the newly divided plants
- Keep the newly divided plants shaded during the hottest parts of the day as they recover
Note: This method of propagation is best done on an overcast day in early spring or fall
When to Plant Italian Oregano
It is best to plant Italian Oregano in the springtime after the last frost of the season. It can also be planted indoors during cold weather and transplanted outdoors once warm weather comes and the soil is 70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher overnight.
Best Italian Oregano Fertilizer
Italian Oregano does not require much fertilizer, but it can benefit from a few feedings during its growing season. Mixing a small dose of all-purpose fertilizer or organic compost into the soil around the oregano every few weeks will encourage the plant to grow healthy.
Italian Oregano Soil Requirements
Italian Oregano requires soil that is loose and well-draining and a pH range of 6.5 to 7.0. If you choose to plant these in a container, be sure the container has drainage holes.
Italian Oregano Light Requirements
Italian Oregano should be set in an area where it receives plenty of sunlight or slightly shaded sun. It can also be grown in darker areas with the help of grow lights.
Italian Oregano Water Requirements
Italian Oregano should be watered when the top three inches of its soil dries out.
Best Italian Oregano Companion Plantings
Herbs such as Italian Oregano are beneficial companion plantings. This is because oregano actually deters pests that like to infest and consume other types of plants. So, if you are growing a garden of vegetables that you don’t want to see eaten by sap-sucking insects, set some oregano plants nearby. If you are growing any type of flower or plant that you don’t want to watch waste away due to an insect infestation, plant some oregano next to it.
Oregano is more than just a pasta flavoring, it is the ultimate garden companion. It protects plants from unwanted insects with much less expense and much fewer chemicals. This plant is certainly all about solidarity.
Common Pests and Diseases
While oregano is generally a healthy and pest-resistant plant, it does face a few problems. With a little know-how and some preemptive measures, you can care for your plant and keep growing beautiful and tasty herbs without any hassles. Here are the most common issues faced by Italian Oregano and the symptoms to identify them:
This insect infestation looks like tiny globular bugs clustered onto leaves and stems. Symptoms of this type of infestation are:
- Leaves that are yellowing
- Leaves that are growing crooked
- Leaves that have had their growth stunted
- Black and sticky residue on the plant
- Honeydew trails on the plant
The symptom that signifies this type of infestation is the center leaves of the plant are rotting away
Symptoms of this type of infestation are rotting roots and rotting stems
This type of insect is a regular-looking black fly and its larva. It is the larva that causes damage to the plants by tunneling throughout them. Symptoms of this type of insect infestation are:
- Leaves that have squiggly yellow lines running through them
- Leaves that have spots on them
Rhizoctonia Root Rot
Symptoms of this type of infestation are slow signs of wilting, stems bases that are brown or black, and roots that are brown or black.
The symptom that signifies this type of infestation is foliage dotted with circular spots.
Symptoms of this type of insect infestation are:
- Leaves that have yellow, white, or tan spots on them
- Leaves that have tiny red or white spots that move around on them
- Leaves that have a cotton-like webbing covering their undersides
Italian Oregano Treatments and Maintenance
Once you know what the typical problems faced by oregano plants are and how to identify them, it is recommended that you learn how to prevent and treat each problem. Let’s look at some best practices for preventing infestation and diseases and how to deal with them if the need arises.
The most effective and natural way to deal with an infestation of aphids is to introduce predatory insects into your garden. Predatory insects include ladybugs and lacewings. The best way to bring these beneficial bugs into your garden is to attract them into the garden by planting some of their favorite plants. These include:
Another thing to keep in mind when dealing with an aphid infestation is that they are protected by ants. If you have an ant population thriving in your garden, it is in your best interest to naturally get rid of the ants so that the beneficial insects can do their job of controlling the aphid population.
This fungal infection does not have a cure. If a plant shows symptoms of this type of infestation, it should be disposed of.
These types of infections can be prevented or reduced by planting an oregano plant with plenty of space between it and other plants. It is also recommended that oregano be pruned regularly. Both of these preventative methods help to provide adequate airflow so that fungal growth is inhibited.
The most effective treatment method for dealing with these insects is to apply a pesticide to the plants at just the right time of year. It is also possible to prevent future infestations of leaf miners by applying neem oil to leaves.
Rhizoctonia Root Rot
This fungal infection does not have a cure. If a plant shows symptoms of this type of infestation, it should be disposed of. The area where the infected plant was growing should be noted because no other plant should be set there for at least three years.
This fungal infection can be controlled by removing infected stems and leaves.
The most effective and natural way to deal with an infestation of spider mites is to introduce predatory insects into your garden. Predatory insects include ladybugs and parasitic mites. Other ways to deal with this type of infestation are to apply insecticidal oil or neem oil to the plants.
Where to Purchase Italian Oregano Online
Italian Oregano can be purchased in grocery stores, at farmers’ markets, and at garden centers. But, if you are looking to avoid long lines and have the convenience of herbs delivered straight to your doorstep, consider purchasing from one of these online shops.
Italian Oregano Seeds
Italian Oregano Plants
Answer: This plant can be grown outdoors in zones 5 through 10.
There are over 40 types of oregano with numerous varieties included within each type. These are a few of the most popular types:
This type of oregano features golden leaves that are very fragrant and full of oregano flavor.
Oregano Vulgare Hirtum
This type of oregano is the botanical name of Greek Oregano. True Greek Oregano should be very spicy and cause numbness on your tongue when eaten fresh.
This type of oregano is found in many cuisines from the Middle East and southern Europe.
This type of oregano is often found in Middle Eastern cuisine. A popular spice called za’atar is where you are most likely to find it.
Answer: Most types of oregano, including Italian Oregano, will grow up to 2 feet tall and continue spreading horizontally throughout its growing season.
Answer: Yes, this will help to encourage the plant to form a bush-like structure rather than simply spread throughout its garden bed. When pruning, use a sterile cutting utensil to cut the plant to 1/3 its size.
Answer: This is a perennial herb that can grow back in mild climates, such as those found in US Hardiness Zones 8 and above. In these zones, the plant can be left outdoors all year round with the expectation that it will grow foliage in the springtime. However, in zones 7 and below, the plant should be protected from cold and frost by covering it with mulch or planting it in a container that can be transported indoors during cold seasons.
Answer: Yes, this herb is unattractive to these pesky insects, so if oregano is planted nearby it is unlikely that you will have to deal with them.
Answer: Yes, just like many other types of herbs, Italian Oregano can be frozen for use at another time.
Italian Oregano shows its appeal as a food staple and a garden necessity by its simplicity of care, its beauty of appearance, and its versatility of use. Now you know that there is no reason why you have to purchase a bottle of dried oregano or an expensive sprig of slightly browned oregano when you can grow your own so easily.
The next time you’re at the grocery store wondering if you should hand over your well-earned money for a sprig, consider heading over to your local garden supply shop or plant nursery instead. Get yourself an oregano plant of your own and you will never overspend on herbs or lack flavor in your food again.