Oregano is one of the most sought-after herbs you can grow indoors. It adds taste and flavor to our favorite dishes, making it one of the most used aromatic herbs.
But that’s not all to love about this rich herb, oregano is also well-known for its medicinal properties. It is a renowned source of vitamins and mineral salts and it also has antioxidant and anti-aging characteristics. This medicinal herb is also incredibly easy to grow, it’s almost as easy as growing chives, which is well know to one of the easiest plants to grow.
Oregano also serves as a decorative plant, it grows and looks very lovely in containers. This gorgeous-looking herb comes in different varieties and colors, providing lots of options from a decorative as well as a culinary view. Here, you’ll learn how to grow oregano plants that’ll last you for years.
There are several ways to grow oregano. You can start oregano from seeds, propagate its stem cutting, or purchase its seedlings. Growing from seeds is easy, and oregano tends to take well. Start by getting some high quality oregano seeds, and sprinkle them into a seed tray or container.
Make sure to use a seed-starting potting mix and water the soil properly. After that, you can cover the pot or tray and place it in a sunny spot. These steps trap moisture and provide the ideal environment for your seeds to grow.
Check it every 2-3 days until it sprouts, ideally oregano seeds should take 1-2 weeks to germinate. Also, maintain an ideal growing temperature. Oregano grows best at 65-70 °F (18-21 °C) in the day and 55-60°F (13-16 °C) at night. Once you see your sprouts have grown about 3 leaves you can transfer them to their permanent container.
For seedlings, follow the steps below for container and soil. You can plant these more mature plants directly into their permanent container.
Propagation takes a few more steps, and we’ll look at that more in depth later on in this article.
Container & Soil
For healthier and pest-free growth, the ideal container and soil type are very important. You can start your plants in a 6” container with proper drainage. Oregano doesn’t like to be in soggy conditions, so clay pots with good drainage are an excellent choice.
Oregano isn’t finicky when it comes to soil condition, but it’ll grow better when planted in well-draining, humus-rich soil. To prepare a suitable well-draining soil condition for oregano, you can add pebbles to the bottom of your growing pot/container before pouring in the soil.
Adding peat moss and perlite to your soil will also help to improve its quality and nutrients. The easiest way to prepare a suitable potting mix for this herb is to add up equal parts of sharp sand, potting soil, peat moss, and perlite and mix them up properly. You can also use pre-made soils for herbs or other soils designed for container gardening.
Oregano is a sun-loving herb, it needs a lot of light to thrive. Oregano does very well with 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. So, you’ll need to take advantage of your bright, south-facing windows to provide the lighting needs of this plant.
If you don’t live in a warm area that gets sufficient sunlight, you’d need artificial grow lights to achieve your plant’s lighting needs. With grow lights, your oregano plant would be fine with at least 10-12 hours of exposure as the intensity of grow lights is typically less than natural sunlight.
Place the grow lights about six inches away from your plant and set it on a timer accordingly to get adequate lighting. Grow lights also help in the winter when light intensity drops, and it can be difficult to get enough light from natural sources alone.
Watering & Fertilizing
The watering schedule for his herb is very simple. Oregano requires mild, regular watering when the soil is dry. It is drought-tolerant so it doesn’t require much watering and it’s better to water too little than too much. Always let the soil dry out completely in-between waterings to prevent diseases such as root rot.
When watering, check the top 2-3” of the soil, and water once it’s dry. Water until you see water leak out of the drainage on your plant’s container. There shouldn’t be any water standing on top of the soil after watering. If there is, that’s usually a sign that your soil or container doesn’t have proper drainage.
As for the feeding of this plant, organic fertilizer is the perfect choice to enrich it with nutrients. Although fertilizing isn’t necessary, oregano does grow faster with regular feeding. You can opt for a liquid fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Do so about once per month in the spring and summer when the plant is actively growing.
Your oregano plant is ready to be harvested once it is 4-6 inches tall, which should be about 4-5 months after planting. You’re looking for large, deep green leaves which are sure signs that the plant is ready to harvest. You also want to do so before the plant begins to flower, also known as bolting. This will quickly ruin the flavor, and signal the end of the growing season for your plant.
To harvest oregano leaves, clip off the leaves with a pair of scissors or take off an entire stem of leaves. The entirety of the plant is flavorful, so either option is perfectly fine. If you want to keep your oregano plant alive and growing after harvesting, make sure to leave at least a quarter of the plant left to avoid causing any damage.
Your oregano is ready for use immediately, you can make a highly flavored oregano oil or dry the leaves and store them for later use.
For more details, check out our full article on harvesting oregano.
Just like other houseplants, regular pruning can encourage bushier, healthier growth. You can start pruning your oregano plant once it has 3 sets of mature leaves, or any time afterwards. To prune your oregano plant, cut off the top stem right above the leaf nodes you’re leaving on the plant.
This helps keep the plant in shape and you can also propagate the stem cutting you just took. You’ll also want to occasionally pinch back the buds to prevent them from flowering.
Flowering tends to make the stems woody and diminish the energy of the plant. By preventing this flowering you can extend the amount of time your plant produces harvestable herbs.
Oregano is definitely a hotshot in the kitchen. Even when dried, it retains its flavor. Oregano is that taste-bud exciting flavor in Italian dishes, it'll bring that true Italian flavor to a variety of dishes. From salads to soups and pizza, oregano is that one herb that adds taste like no other. Your herb garden is incomplete without the classic oregano. Just a few freshly-plucked oregano leaves would make a simple sauce, a tasty, flavorful dish. Oregano comes in different varieties, the Mediterranean oregano and Greek oregano have a different flavor from Mexican oregano. Try out the different varieties and stick to the one you love the most.
Once your oregano plant is mature, you may want to propagate it to grow more of this lovely herb. You can easily propagate oregano from cuttings. All you’ll need to do is to make stem cuttings that are at least 4-6 inches long.
Ensure you make the cuttings above a node and then, remove the leaves on the bottom of the stem, leaving only two sets of leaves on the top. Place the stem cuttings in a glass of water, making sure the bottom 2 inches of the stem is submerged in water.
Put the glass close to a sunny window or a bright windowsill and make sure to change the water about every 2-3 days or if you notice it getting visibly dirty. You should see the roots sprouting within 3-4 weeks. During this time, you can use rooting hormones to help encourage growth. Once the roots emerge, prepare a suitable potting soil and plant the cutting properly.
How To Grow Oregano Indoors Quick Tips
Keep the following tips in mind when growing oregano indoors:
- Don’t use oregano seeds that have been stored for a very long time. Make sure to buy fresh seeds and plant them quickly so they don’t lose their viability.
- Make sure to plant more seeds than you’ll need to grow, keeping in mind that a quarter of the seeds may not sprout.
- It’s advisable to space your plants properly if you’ll be planting oregano along with other plants. Give at least 12” between plants, or move oregano to its own container.
- Inspect your potting soil carefully for pests, fungus, and weeds before planting and throughout the growing season. Regular upkeep is the best way to keep your plant healthy.
- It’s best to harvest your oregano leaves before they flower to keep the plant growing and get the best flavor.
- When growing oregano close to a window, do not let it brush against the window to prevent burning the leaves in the summer or freezing them in winter.
Oregano grows nicely indoors as long as you provide it the correct growing condition. It is an amazing addition to your indoor herb garden and provides a lot of flavor for little work. Nothing beats the fresh flavor it provides, and its beauty is perfect for any herb garden. You can have this pleasant ingredient in the comfort of your home for years, simply follow the steps here to grow oregano indoors successfully.
Growing Oregano Indoors FAQS
How Often Should You Water Potted Oregano?
Ideally, oregano should be watered 2-3 times a week. Although oregano doesn’t need as much watering as other herbs, it should be watered thoroughly each time. Give it at least an inch of water.
However, the rule is to make sure that the soil dries out properly before watering again. As a rule of thumb, deep your finger a few inches into the soil to check for its moisture level before watering.
Should You Let Oregano Flower?
It all depends on your needs. Oregano flowers are beautiful and edible, and provide a more subtle flavor than the leaves. If you’re simply growing oregano for its ornamental features, you’ll enjoy the lovely look of the flowers in your space. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be the best idea to let oregano flower if you planted it to enjoy fresh, flavorful oregano leaves.
The flowering of herbs slows down the growth of new stems and leaves. So don’t expect a huge harvest of oregano leaves if you allow your plant to flower. Plus, the flavor of oregano leaves also reduces as the plant flowers. You’ll get the best-flavored oregano leaves if you harvest before the plant blooms or just as the buds are forming.
What Herbs Can Be Planted With Oregano?
Oregano can be planted with herbs like lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, and thyme. These herbs have very similar growing requirements as oregano and make good companions. They love bright light, don’t require too much watering, and have moderate growth.
Avoid clumping other herbs together with oregano in a pot or small container, the plants would compete for root space and end up very weak. You can only add any of these herbs to oregano indoors if you’re using a big planter.
Can You Grow Oregano Indoors Year-round?
When grown indoors, oregano can be planted at any time. However, it’s best to plant oregano indoors at least 4 weeks before the last frost of spring. You can even choose to start your seeds as early as 6-9 weeks before the expected frost in your area. In colder seasons, you may consider adding a layer of compost to protect your plant.
How Long Does It Take Oregano To Grow?
Normally, it takes oregano anywhere around 10-13 weeks to reach its maturity when grown from seeds. But oregano leaves are normally ready for harvest within 6-8 weeks of planting. Oregano seeds germinate in 1-2 weeks and the seedling develops into a mature plant in 2-3 months depending on climate, soil condition, and lighting.