Tips for Growing Oregano
Oregano, Winter Sweet, Pot Marjoram, Mountain Mint, Winter Marjoram
The ancient Greeks considered oregano to be the "joy of the mountain." In fact, the roots of the words, oros (mountain) and ganos (joy) attest to that fact. A popular traditional medicinal herb, it was used to treat skin wounds, headaches, trauma, lung conditions, seizers, stings and bites, and even heart failure. In fact, Hippocrates is documented as having used the herb as an antiseptic and a stomach aid. The herb also has extensive use, from Mexico to Italy, as a popular aromatic spice for dishes like marinara sauces, lamb stews, soups and pizza.
HERBAL PROPERTIES AND USES:
Oregano contains volatile oils that make it an emmenagogue, anti-oxidant, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, digestive and anti-allergenic. Because of its vast array of disease-fighting properties, it has been used in the treatment of viral infections, colon and urinary tract infections, skin infections, food poisoning (E Coli, Giardiasis) and fungal infections. Its powerful antioxidant capacities aid in the general nuetralization of disease-causing free radicals in the body.
It is also an excellent remedy for most types of parasitic infections, and acts to ward off lice, bed bugs, fleas and mosquitoes. Oregano oil and its leaves have been shown to give relief to symptoms of allergies, promote digestion through increasing intestinal secretions, increase overall circulation and regularize menstrual cycles in women. It is also a powerful painkiller, with less side effects than over-the-counter medications.
Oregano Cultivation and Growing Methods
Does best in light loam with a slightly alkaline pH, and well-drained, nutrient-rich soil.
Does best in partial sun as leaves can scorch in full sun.
Can reach up to 30" in height, but usually grows from 8-12" inches.
Separate individual plants 12-18" inches apart.
Grows throughout most of Europe, South America and North America, and does best in Zones 5-10, depending on the variety.
Early spring after danger of frost has passed, the seeds can be sown directly into soil, or sow in plugs 6 weeks before last frost, indoors.
Self-propagates aggressively by sending out runners. Oregano can also be started by seeds, divisions or cuttings.
Around four weeks from planting seedlings, flowers will begin to appear. Make sure to keep harvesting oregano often so that it does not turn to seed.
Harvest the leaves before there are flowers. It is best to harvest the leaves when plants reaches 4-5 inches in height. Cut stems to the ground to encourage fuller growth later. Also, it is important to harvest as a long stem, or branch, for better drying later.
DRYING METHODS / YIELD:
Dry leaves indoors, in bundles, in a cool dry setting. Do not dry in full sun as this will damage the leaves. Tie branches upside down and hang in dry place, without dampness. After 5-7 days, oregano is ready to be stripped from the branch and stored.
PRESERVATION / PACKAGING METHODS:
Dried leaves may be stored in an airtight glass container for up to one year.
ESSENTIAL OIL USE:
Oil of Oregano is a staple for many herbalists. Its oils are useful in treating skin infections. It is an extremely potent anti-bacterial and anti-microbial agent. The oils have also been used in perfumes and soaps
Oregano's key chemical components are Cymene, Carvacrol, Thymol, Pinene, Bisabolene, Caryophyllene, Linalool, Geranyl Acetate, Borneol, Linalyl Acetate and Terpinene.
IS THIS AN EDIBLE PLANT:
CAUTIONS / CONTRAINDICATIONS:
Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should not take high-doses of the herb, although as a food spice, it is generally recognized as safe. Oregano, in high doses, is a sedative. Applied topically, it can cause sensitivity in the skin, and may be associated with rash and rare anaphylactic reactions.
None well documented.
Clinical Research About Oregano
- Faleiro, Leonor; et al. (2005). "Antibacterial and Antioxidant Activities of Essential Oils Isolated from Thymbra capitata L. (Cav.) and Origanum vulgare L.". J. Agric. Food Chem. 53 (21): 8162–8168." [PMID: 16218659].
- Anti-Giardia activity of phenolic-rich essential oils: effects of Thymbra capitata, Origanum virens, Thymus zygis subsp. sylvestris, and Lippia graveolens on trophozoites growth, viability, adherence, and ultrastructure. Machado M, Dinis AM, Salgueiro L, Cavaleiro C, Custódio JB, Sousa MD. Parasitol Res. 2010 Mar 9. [PMID: 20217133].
- Inhibition of enteric parasites by emulsified oil of oregano in vivo. Mark Force, William S. Sparks, Robert A. Ronzio. Health Explorations Trust, Scottsdale, AZ, USA (M.F.) and Biotics Research. [PMID: 10815019].
- Gray, Linda. Grow Your Own Pharmacy. 1992. http://www.botanical.com
- Growing and using oregano. Sara Pitzer. p. 5. - http://books.google.com/books?id=hFus8dM0PhEC&pg=PA4&dq=growing+oregano
- Epikouria Magazine, Fall/Winter 2007