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Oregano exhibits a robust growth habit whether the variety you grow is upright or spreading, but not just any soil will do. Copious amounts of humus need to be added to the soil to improve drainage. Additional lime may be necessary to raise the pH.
Choose a garden site with at least five or six hours fo sun after 9 a.m. Sun and good drainage are also essential for good growth indoors and to reduce the chance of root-rot, an important problem.
Plants should be pinched often to increase stem strength and to promote branching. This will also increase air circulation through the plant and hasten foliage drying which lessens the chance of fungus problems. The disease will usually manifest itself on foliage touching the ground, although in humid weather it may also be present on new growth. It often appears as "burnt" foliage tips.
Hardy varieties (oregano) generally die back to the ground each year. New growth should be visible in the spring about the time of the last frost date. Marjoram is not hardy and will need to be replanted each year where winter is cold and cruel.
While fresh foliage may be cut at any time, plants should be harvested as flower buds appear, about 60 days after growth commences in spring. Prior to this, stems elongate and leaves appear to shrink. Cut plants back to within six inches of the ground, leaving some green leaves. On older, woody plants, cut half to three-quarters of new growth. A second harvest is often possible but the plants should not be pruned sharply within 45 days of the first expected hard freeze.
Foliage may be dried to preserve it for use later. Do this by hanging stems in bunches in paper bags.
Some insects may prove troublesome. Aphids, spider mites and leaf miners are attracted to oregano and marjoram at different seasons. Aphids on new growth in spring and spider mites in hot weather, or mid-winter indoor plants, can be controlled with insecticidal soap sprays. Leaf miners eat serpentine, brown paths through the leaves. Their eggs, visible as small, white clusters on the underside of leaves, may be hand picked. Plants grown under breathable row cover avoid leaf miner because the egg-laying adults are flying insects and will be unable to reach the leaves.
Oregano.Origanum vulgare 'Hot And Spicy'. Perennial, hardy to at least 10°F. Clump forming with spreading habit. Strong, spicy flavor. If you like to be able to taste your oregano, then this is the one for you.Good culinary variety.
Oregano, Cuban Variegated.Plectranthus amboinicus. This tender perennial is hardy to 34°F and usually a pot plant in our climate. Growth habit is procumbent. Large cream and green leaves have a sweet odor and make wonderful hanging baskets. Although not a true oregano, the leaves of this splashy, variegated native of Indonesia, may be dipped in batter and fried. Some of my customers have actually used this as a substitute for true oregano in sauces. Also called Indian borage, Spanish thyme, and French oregano.
Oregano, Dittany Of Crete.Origanum dictamnus. This tender perennial offers a pleasingly unusual appearance. The dense gray fuzz that covers leaves and semi-upright stems create a highly ornamental plant. Its beauty is magnified when its unusual hop-like flower spikes appear with purple bracts and long, pink calyxes. A marvelous plant for hanging baskets (three do well in a 10-inch pot).
Oregano, Golden ( Golden Marjoram).Origanum vulgare subsp. vulgare 'Dr. Ietswaart'. Spreading ground cover with wrinkled golden foliage and occasional 12 inch flower stalks. Good as a low growing edging or groundcover in a sunny well-drained area with no foot traffic. Although edible, this ornamental oregano has little flavor and is not suited for culinary use.
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Oregano, Golden Creeping.Origanum vulgare subsp. vulgare 'Aureum'. Perennial. Good ground cover with occasional 12 inch spikes of pink flowers. Spreads to at least 12 inches in diameter in one summer. Pretty yellow-green foliage provides a nice contrast to other herbs and ornamentals. Good groundcover in a sunny, well drained area with no foot traffic. Although edible, this ornamental oregano has little flavor and is not suited for culinary use.
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