$2.75 inc GST
Italian oregano is one of the most versatile and delicious herbs for making sauces and soups in the kitchen. The leaves of Italian oregano are slightly larger than those of their Greek cousin, so they are easy to dry and store for later use. Italian oregano also is a fragrant and attractive plant in the garden or containers. It thrives as a perennial herb, so you can enjoy fresh leaves year after year. Italian oregano leaves are ready for harvesting fresh and drying as soon as the plant's pretty stems are at least 10cm long; cut the stem to leave an inch or so for re-growing. Italian oregano typically reaches 30 to 60cm high and spreads nearly as wide like a groundcover.
If stems are left to grow longer, tiny pink flowers will emerge late in summer. However, it is best to harvest Italian oregano leaves before the flowers appear for best flavour. Harvest early in the morning when possible.
Plant Italian oregano after the last frost in the area. The plants grow best when the soil temperature is 18C. The herb prefers light, well-draining soil. Choose any spot in the garden that gets full sun or partial shade. If planting oregano in hot climates, be sure the plant gets afternoon shade. If planting several oregano plants, space them about 30 to 45cm apart. Prune the oregano about 2 months after planting to reinvigorate the plant. Pruning this hardy herb really amounts to harvesting. You can store stems in a cool area of the kitchen for a few days or dry them for winter use.
Italian oregano also can be grown in an indoor container, especially in colder areas, and move outside in summer. If growing oregano indoors, ensure it has plenty of sunlight or artificial light from a growing stand. Protect Italian oregano from hard winter frosts (about -2C or lower) by covering the plant with a blanket.
Grow Italian oregano in a container right by your kitchen door for easy harvesting. Use the same type of loose, well-draining soil that oregano likes when planted outdoors. The container must have drainage and should be at least 30cms around at the mouth to give the plant room to spread.
Keep the soil around Italian oregano consistently moist until the plant's roots are established, at least for several weeks after planting. After that, water deeply but only when the soil in the ground or container is dry to the touch.
There is no need to fertilize Italian oregano for it to thrive, but gardeners can add a small amount of fertilizer or organic compost every few weeks during the growing season. If desired, an all-purpose fertilizer can be added every few weeks, worked into the ground around the plant.