Northern Nevada gardening and landscaping: Growing oregano | Carson City Nevada News

Every spring I feel the urge to plant, although the maturity and size of the plants in my landscape limit the available planting space – too many roots or no access to irrigation. And yet, when my friend Peggy gave me an oregano plant from her garden, I was excited to hear that it is not only hardy but also spreads easily.

I hadn’t noticed that oregano would tolerate our low temperatures on winter night. Since voles killed a lavender plant, I have a place for it too.

Origanum, the scientific name for oregano, belongs to the mint family. This square stemmed mint relative needs full sun for best flavor, little to moderate water in any soil with good drainage. It attracts butterflies and bees.

Some of the species that are hardy in the microclimate of my farm (low teenage to occasional minus-zero temperatures in winter) are O. laevigatum, O. libanoticum, O. ‘Norton Gold’ (a hybrid of laevigatum and vulgare ‘aureum ‘), O. rotundifolium and O. vulgare. I think the plant I have might be the vulgar – common oregano, also known as wild marjoram. According to Peggy, this plant grows up to a foot tall with a hill habit. It has dark green leaves and should get white to purple flowers in midsummer.

And best of all, it’s edible! However, to get a good taste of the leaves I should cut off all the flower buds which I may not want to do.

There are many varieties of common oregano and I don’t know what my new plant is. For example, ‘Aureum’ has white flowers and golden spring leaves that turn green in late summer. I’m pretty sure it isn’t. ‘Compactum’ only grows a few inches, so it’s not. It could be ‘Roseum’, which has rose-pink flowers. The Sunset Western Garden Book states, “Your nose is your best guide to finding a delicious oregano to grow. The scent is very different from plant to plant. ”My new plant smells wonderful, so it may not be your ordinary oregano, which Rodales Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs says is a“ sweet, bushy little plant with all the flavor of turfgrass ”.

For the most part, oregano is easy to grow. However, it is susceptible to root and stem rot in poorly drained soils. Aphids and spider mites could be a problem. As a landscape feature, oregano is a colorful addition to a floral border. It’s also nice to pull over a rock wall.

Instead of writing more, I’m going out to plant my oregano!

– JoAnne Skelly is Associate Professor & Extension Educator Emerita at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at

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