I like oregano, especially on my pizza. And that’s why I want to grow it as part of my container garden. This post contains all my research on how to grow oregano in a pot.
If you’re short on time and looking for a quick step-by-step guide for growing basil in a pot, download the checklist below. If you need more information, keep reading the detailed guide below.
What is oregano?
Oregano is a popular herb that has tiny leaves and pink or purple flowers. The leaves have a pungent aroma and a strong flavor that makes them suitable as an addition to savory food.
You will find the oregano leaves used dried as well as fresh in many Mediterranian and Mexican dishes.
The oregano plant is perennial that can grow for many years but after some time the flavor of the leaves will decrease.
What are some varieties of oregano?
The Common oregano produces leaves that have good flavor as long as you harvest them before the plant flowers.
This is a perennial oregano variety that can grow up to 36 inches tall. You need to provide this plant full sun to get the most flavor out of its leaves.
This oregano variety is a good addition to your Mediterranean dishes due to it’s aromatic and spicy flavor.
The Greek oregano is considered as the true oregano due to its strong flavor making it highly used in Greek, Italian, and Spanish cuisine.
You will find this oregano on the grocery shelves and used often in pizza, pasta, and Italian sauces.
The plant needs full sun to grow well where it can grow up to 24 inches tall. It produces dark, green leaves and white flowers.
Mexican oregano is not from the same family as the other oregano varieties. The plant can grow quite tall reaching 5 feet in height.
It is a perennial plant that prefers the full sun to grow a good harvest. It has a strong flavor especially when crushed. It’s used frequently in Mexican dishes to spice them up.
Italian oregano has a mild flavor that makes it suitable for use in pasta, tomato sauces, and soups. The plant can grow up to 24 inches tall with bright green leaves and small pink flowers.
The Italian oregano requires full sun to produce a good harvest of leaves. You can grow this variety as a perennial in warm climates and an annual in cold climates.
The Cuban oregano is a member of the mint family rather than the oregano family. It has thick leaves that produce a fragrant, strong odor. The leaves can be white, pink, or lavender in color.
The strong flavor of this herb makes it suitable for a lot of Mediterranian dishes. The plant can grow up to 18 inches tall and prefers partial shade rather than full sun.
The Syrian oregano is a variety that grows well in full sun rather than partial shade. The plant can grow up to 48 inches tall and produces plenty of leaves for harvest.
This oregano plant has a mild flavor that is different than other varieties of oregano. It tastes closer to mint with a slightly spicy flavor. This makes it a good addition to Middle Eastern meat and vegetable dishes.
The Golden oregano variety is named because of its golden-colored leaves, especially when grown in full sun. The plant can also grow in partial shade without problems.
This is a small plant that grows up to 24 inches tall. It has a tendency to spread rather than grow vertically making it suitable as a cover.
The flowers are pink to purple in color and fragrant. You can use this variety in your food but it has a mild flavor compared to some of the other varieties.
Sweet Marjoram is a different herb than oregano but belongs to the same family and has a similar flavor.
The difference is that it has a milder flavor than some of the varieties of oregano making it the preferred choice in Turkish cuisine.
The plant can grow up to 24 inches tall with small, bright leaves and attractive, fragrant flowers. It needs full sun to produce a good harvest.
You can plant this as a perennial in warm climates and an annual in colder environments.
The Ornamental oregano is grown for it’s attractive and fragrant flowers rather than using in food. You can use them in food but they have a mild flavor that does not add much to it.
The plant can grow up to 24 inches tall with beautiful, pink flowers. This variety can grow in full sun as well as partial shade without any problems.
This is a variety of oregano that can be used as an ornamental or in your food. The plant produces white to pink fragrant and attractive flowers. It also does well to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies to the garden.
Turkish oregano can grow 18 to 24 inches tall with spicy leaves that go well in any meat or Italian dish. This is an oregano variety that prefers full sun rather than partial shade.
Where can you buy oregano seeds?
You can buy cilantro seeds from your local garden center or nursery. There are also a lot of online stores that sell several varieties of cilantro seeds.
I’ve listed some of the cilantro seed varieties you can buy along with the temperatures they need and the height they will grow.
|Seed variety||Temperature||Height||Days to maturity|
|Common oregano||60-75 °F||36 inches||45-55|
|Greek oregano||60-75 °F||24 inches||80-90|
|Mexican oregano||60-75 °F||5 feet||80-90|
|Italian oregano||60-75 °F||24 inches||80-90|
|Cuban oregano||60-75 °F||18 inches||80-90|
|Syrian oregano||60-75 °F||4 feet||80-90|
|Golden oregano||60-75 °F||24 inches||80-90|
|Sweet marjoram||60-75 °F||24 inches||60-90|
|Ornamental oregano||60-75 °F||24 inches||60-90|
|Turkish oregano||60-75 °F||24 inches||60-90|
When is the best time to plant oregano?
Oregano like many other herbs likes cool weather to grow well. It prefers temperatures between 60-75 °F. If the temperature goes too high, the plant will bolt.
This means the plant focus changes to produce flowers and seeds rather than foliage. The leaves will turn bitter in taste when that happens to make them inedible.
The best time to plant oregano is either spring or fall. I would suggest growing the plant just after the last frost date or after summer when the weather starts to cool down.
The good thing about herbs is they grow pretty fast. So you can get to grow and harvest the oregano several times during the growing season. And the more you harvest the leaves, the more the plant produces.
How to choose a pot to grow oregano?
Herbs like oregano grow very well in pots. The only thing you need to be careful is to choose a suitable one with a large enough size.
It’s best to choose a pot for oregano that is 8-12 inches deep. This gives the oregano roots enough space to grow well looking for nutrients and moisture.
If you want to grow many oregano plants in a single pot, it’s good to choose a wide one. An 18-inch wide pot would do well for this purpose.
The wide pot helps the oregano plants grow spaced from each other and avoid competing for the nutrients and moisture.
A pot that is made from material like plastic, terracotta, metal, ceramic, or concrete works well for growing herbs like oregano. But I suggest using a plastic one if you want something that is inexpensive, durable, and lightweight to move around.
Terracotta pots are good as well but they are made from a porous material. So the water seeps out through the pores and you’ll need to water the plants more often.
You can use a grow bag if that’s what you prefer. Or you can even reuse pots or containers you may have at home.
You may have bought a new pot or reusing an older one. But in both cases, it’s best to clean the pot before use. This helps protect the oregano plants from pests and diseases that might creep in.
One way to do this is to mix 1 part of bleach with 10 parts water. Then soak the pot in this solution for 1 hour. After that, you can rinse the pot well with water and leave it to dry. Once the pot is dry, it’s ready for planting the oregano plant.
Whatever pot you choose, make sure it has drainage holes to drain out the excess water as oregano won’t prefer soaking in water. If the pot does not have drainage holes, you can drill some by yourself.
I’ve researched some plastic pots you can use for growing oregano plants.
|Novelty Round Pot||10.25 inches||9.8 inches|
|Bloem Saturn Planter||9.75 inches||8.5 inches|
|Fiskars Planter||13 inches||10.25 inches|
|Bloem Freesia Planter||12.5 inches||11 inches|
|La Jolíe Muse Pot||14.2 inches||10.6 inches|
Which potting soil should you use?
The worst thing you can do for your oregano plants is to use garden soil. This can be full of clay or sand that does not have the texture required to grow herbs. It won’t be able to retain the right amount of moisture and air for the roots.
And the garden soil may contain pests, diseases, and chemicals that can harm your oregano plant.
The best thing to do is use a good potting mix for your container plants. This mix usually is neutral with a texture that is loose and retains moisture while draining out the excess.
Fill the entire pot with such a potting mix while leaving 1-2 inches from the rim of the pot. This helps water the oregano plant without spilling the water and potting mix out of the pot.
The oregano seeds will germinate in 2-3 weeks and you don’t need to provide fertilizer to them. The seeds contain enough energy to grow on their own and sprout. But once the seedlings have grown, you can add a little bit of fertilizer to them.
The best thing to do would be to add compost to your potting mix when preparing the pot. This contains rich, organic nutrients and microorganisms beneficial for oregano.
If you don’t have compost, a good slow-release fertilizer can give your plants a boost. Add it to the potting mix and mix them well in the pot. The fertilizer will release nutrients into the soil as you water the plants. It’s good to use a balanced fertilizer that may have an N-P-K of 5-5-5 or 10-10-10.
Here’s a list of potting mixes that would be suitable for growing your oregano plants.
- Fox Farm Happy Frog Organic Potting Mix
- Burpee Natural Organic Premium Growing Mix
- Black Gold All Purpose Potting Soil
- Perfect Plants Organic Potting Mix
- Espoma Organic Potting Mix
How to plant oregano seeds in the pot
You can plant the oregano seeds directly in the pot or you can start the seeds in a tray and transplant them to the pot later. I’m too lazy when growing herbs, so I just plan to plant them directly in the pot.
Water the soil to make it moist before planting the seeds. You want it to be a little moist but not damp or soaking wet.
The oregano seeds are very small so you need to plant many of them together to get the best germination rates. You can thin the seedlings later on and select one out of the many that may spout together. You can then cover the seeds with just a little bit of the potting soil.
Use a spraying-can to gently water the potting mix and keep it moist. Do this every day so the potting mix has enough moisture for the oregano plants to germinate. The seeds should germinate in about 2 weeks time.
Where to place the pots?
The location where you need to place the oregano plants depends on the variety. Some prefer full some while others require partial shade.
Those varieties that need full sun will require 6-8 hours of sunlight. It’s best to provide them with indirect sunlight if the heat is too intense. Otherwise, the plant will wilt.
You can place the pots in a location of your container garden that receives indirect sunlight. If the heat gets too intense like in the afternoon, you need to move the pots to a shaded location.
If the oregano variety requires partial shade then you need to keep the pots in a shaded location. You’ll need to move the pot as the sun changes position with change in the season.
How to water oregano plants
Oregano plants need to stay in moist soil to germinate and grow well. The potting mix has to be moist but not soggy that can lead to root rot.
The best way to water the seeds is to gently spray the potting mix with water from a sprayer.
Once the seeds have germinated into seedlings, you can start watering them with a watering can. Oregano likes to remain in moist soil to grow well. But too much water in the soil will drown the roots.
To check the moisture in the soil, stick your finger 1-2 inches into the soil. If the tip of your finger does not feel moisture, it’s time to water the soil.
Water the soil well till it drains out from the bottom of the pot through the drainage holes. This means that the water is reaching deep into the soil to the roots.
The best water to use for watering oregano is rainwater if you can collect it. The next best option is distilled water if you have a distiller at home.
I just have tap water at home so the best solution is to leave the water in a container for 24 hours. This removes the chemicals like chlorine and fluoride from the tap water that could harm the oregano plant.
I like to water my plants in the morning before the sunlight reaches them. This helps the roots get the required moisture before the water can evaporate.
You don’t want to splash water on the foliage of the oregano plants because it makes them an easy target for fungal diseases like powdery mildew.
Here’s a list of watering cans you will find useful for watering your oregano plants.
- Bloem Aqua Rite Watering Can
- Novelty Watering Can
- Cado Watering Can
- Gardener’s Select Watering Can
- Calunce Watering Can
How to thin the oregano seedlings
The oregano seeds are very tiny and we planted several of them together. It may happen that lots of those seeds germinate close to each other.
It is not good to keep plants close to each other as they will compete for resources and stunt growth. That’s why we need to thin the seedlings.
Thinning is the process where you pull or cut out some of the seedlings and leave the healthy ones to continue growing. You cut out the seedlings that may be too close to each other and leave a few inches of space between them.
You only need to worry about thinning the seedlings when they have grown at least 2-4 inches tall. There should be a few leaves already growing on the seedling before you consider it for thinning.
Cut out the seedlings that look the weakest and let the one that is healthy continue to grow. To thin the seedling, hold the base and cut it out with a pair of pruning scissors.
You can put the seedlings you cut out in your salad or food as they will add flavor and nutrients to it.
How should you prune the oregano plants?
Pruning the oregano plants will help keep it clean from dried leaves or parts that are infested with a pest or disease.
This helps the oregano plant focus on growing new foliage than spending effort on the diseased or dead parts.
Pruning and harvesting the leaves of the oregano plant also encourages the plant to produce more leaves that you can later harvest.
You prune the mature leaves for your consumption while leaving most parts of the plant. This encourages the plant to produce more foliage.
The best way to prune is to place your thumb and forefinger on the stem and pinch it off. You don’t want to pull on the plant but just gently pick off the stalk you need.
I would prefer to use a clean pair of gardening pruners that helps cut the stalks with ease. It protects the plant from a big wound that would attract pests and diseases.
I also like to add some compost to the plant after I’m done with the pruning. This helps them recover from the pruning by using the required nutrients.
Here are some hand pruners you can use for pruning your oregano plants.
- VIVOSUN Hand Pruners
- Fiskars Micro-tip Pruner
- GROWNEER Pruning Shears
- Felco Pruning Shears
- Corona Long Straight Snip
Does oregano need fertilizer?
The best addition to your potting mix is organic compost. This will provide rich, organic nutrients to the oregano plant.
The compost also contains beneficial microorganisms that will enrich the soil further as your oregano plant grows.
You can add one more batch of compost when the oregano plant has grown 2-4 inches in height. And continue to add a little bit of compost every month during the growing season.
If you don’t have compost, you can add a slow-release organic fertilizer to the potting mix when preparing the container. This fertilizer will be released into the soil when you are watering the plants.
It’s important that you follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer when using the fertilizer. Too much of the fertilizer will end up damaging the plant.
When the plant has grown 2-4 inches, you can add one more batch of the slow-release fertilizer. Or you can use an organic liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks during the growing season.
Spray the liquid fertilizer on the soil as well as the foliage to give the plants a boost of the nutrients they need.
It’s good to pick a fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen as it will boost the growth of foliage on the oregano plants. Fish emulsion is a good natural fertilizer that is high in nitrogen and beneficial for the oregano plant.
You need to be careful not to overuse the fertilizer on your oregano plants as it will cause leaf or root burn that will kill your plants.
Here is a list of slow-release organic fertilizer you can use.
Here is a list of organic liquid fertilizer you can use.
- Neptune’s Harvest Organic Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer
- Espoma Organic Grow Fertilizer
- FoxFarm Grow Big Liquid Fertilizer
How to protect oregano from weeds
A good thing about growing oregano in a pot is there are lower chances of weeds invading the soil. There may still be a few weeds growing due to the wind or birds carrying them into the pot.
The best solution to the problem of weeds is to add a layer of mulch to the pot. This could be organic material like grass clippings from the lawn, dried leaves from the yard, or moss you collect near the house.
Make sure to mulch the potting soil only after the oregano seeds have germinated and the seedlings have grown about 2 inches tall. The mulch will prevent sunlight from reaching the weed seeds in the potting soil so they won’t germinate.
Mulch also keeps the soil temperature regulated so it’s neither too hot nor too cold. When you water the soil, the mulch helps keep the moisture in the soil longer as it protects evaporation from the sunlight.
As the organic mulch breaks down slowly, it will add beneficial nutrients to your oregano plants. Grass clippings and dried leaves are a good source of nitrogen for the plants.
How to harvest oregano
Herbs tend to grow pretty fast and you can harvest the leaves from the plant 3-4 weeks after planting the seeds.
Once the oregano plant has grown to about 4-6 inches in height, you should be able to harvest the leaves. And the more leaves you harvest, the thicker the foliage will grow.
It’s important to limit how much you harvest in one batch. Make sure to only harvest about 1/3rd of the leaves on the plant. This keeps the remaining foliage to continue creating food for the plant and growing more foliage.
It’s best to pick the leaves that have matured at the top of the oregano plant. Pinch the leaves using your fingers. Or you can use a pair of gardening pruners to cut them from the plant. It’s important not to pull on the plant when harvesting.
I would suggest adding some compost and potting mix near the base of the plants once you’re done with the harvesting. This will give the plants a boost to grow new foliage.
To harvest the entire plant, you will need to wait until the plant has matured. This is based on the oregano variety you are growing and the information provided on the seed packet.
The plant may mature 60-90 days after planting the seed. You can cut the entire plant at the base once it’s ready to be harvested. Or you can leave the plant so it continues to grow.
Oregano can act as a perennial plant in a warm climate environment. So it will continue to grow for several years.
How to store oregano
The best time to consume the oregano leaves is as soon as you have harvested them from the plant and they are fresh. That’s when they have the most flavor and aroma.
But you can also store the harvested oregano leaves by drying them. These leaves can be used for several months to flavor your food.
- If there are leaves that are yellow or diseased, you can throw them away. Clean the remaining stalks that you harvested with water to remove dirt from them.
- You need to keep the oregano stalks overnight spread out on a bench so they can dry out with good air circulation.
- You can then tied the stalks in a bunch with a string and hang them in a dark, dry place.
- After about two weeks, the bunch of oregano will be fully dried out.
- You can cut off the leaves from the stalk and put them in a clean glass jar. Keep this glass jar in a dark, dry place.
- You can use the dried oregano leaves in your food as you need them. You could even crush the leaves in a fine powder for topping your pizza and pasta dishes.
- The dried oregano leaves will last you several months as long as you keep them in a dry, dark place.
Pests and diseases that affect oregano
Herbs are a lot stronger than other vegetable plants against pests and diseases but they can still be affected by some.
When you grow oregano in a pot, it’s protected from the pests and diseases that may be present on the other pants.
The best way to keep fungal diseases away from cilantro is to avoid splashing water on the foliage. And growing it in a place that has good air circulation.
Growing oregano in containers helps you monitor the plant every day. If there is a problem with pests or diseases, you can take immediate action and have a better chance of saving the plant.
Aphids: Aphids are tiny insects that are found on the underside of the leaves. They come in different colors like red, green, yellow, white, or orange. They damage the leaves by sucking the sap from them. To get rid of aphids, spray them with water to drop them on the soil. They won’t be able to reach the leaves again.
Cutworms: Cutworms are the larvae of adult moths. They damage the plant by eating the stem or roots. You can recognize them by their color like grey, pink, green, or black and their striped, solid, or spotted marks. To protect your oregano plant from cutworms, place a toilet paper tube around the base of the stem.
Root-knot nematode: This is one of the difficult insects that can affect the oregano plant. They are microscopic and attack the plant’s roots creating a rounded gall. The only way out of this problem is to get rid of the infested oregano plant and the potting soil.
Bacterial leaf spot: The leaf spot is a bacterial disease that causes brown spots on the oregano leaves. The spots will increase in size and cause the leaves to fall off. The only solution is to prevent conditions that can invite this disease. Prevent moist conditions on the leaves due to the splashing of water while watering the soil.
Powdery mildew: This is a fungal disease that infects the plants causing white-gray powdery growth on them. A severe infection will cause the leaves to brown and drop. You can prevent this problem by avoiding splashing water or soil on the foliage. Or cut off the leaves that have been infected.
Soft rot: This is a disease caused by bacteria and a moist environment makes the oregano plant susceptible. It causes the plant tissue to become soft and wet. Avoid splashing water on the foliage to prevent this disease. Take care not to damage the oregano when pruning or harvesting.