How to Plant and Grow Oregano Outdoors
Oregano is a type of mint herb used as a flavoring agent in number of Turkish, Spanish, Greek, Dominican, and Italian culinary dishes. Prominently, it is used for flavoring tomato sauces, fried vegetables, and grilled meats. Oregano can easily be grown indoors as well as outdoors. Oregano plants are perennial in nature—their life is not more than 4 years. During this time, they can grow up to a maximum height of 30 to 32 inches.
Ideal Time for Planting
Oregano hails from the Mediterranean areas and few other Asian regions; apparently, this shows that the plant needs warm climate for healthy growth and cannot withstand frost or extreme cold. Hence, the ideal time for planting will be April or May. If you are directly planting the seeds outdoors, make sure that the outside temperatures are not very low. However, if you are planning to transplant the seedlings, grow them in containers and start transplanting by mid March. Plant them in places where ample sunlight is available.
Preparing the Soil
Oregano plants require light chalky soil for growth. In simple terms, the soil should not hold water for longer duration; so any average type soil will suit the plant growth. Loosen the soil considerably so that the seeds get sufficient breathing space. The procedures for indoor and outdoor plantation are slightly different. For outdoor plantation, you first need to plant the seeds in small pots, which are 12 inch deep. Just sprinkle the seeds (do not cover them with soil) and spray a mist of water on them. The seeds will sprout into seedlings in a period of 2 weeks, after which they are ready to be transplanted to the intended location. Make sure that the plantlets have attained at least a height of 3 to 4 inches.
The garden soil should also be light and chalky. In the designated area, dig rows that are 3 to 4 inches deep and are spaced at least 6 inches. Just keep the leaves of seedlings above the ground and cover the remaining portion with soil. The space between the seedlings should be at least 6 inches within the row to prevent overcrowding. Water them twice a week, but avoid over watering.
Tips for Better Growth
- Do not add any strong chemical fertilizer as it diminishes the flavor of the leaves.
- Snip any straying stems as they may compete with neighboring plants.
- Watering is needed only for the first 3 months, after which the plants can fend for themselves.
- When the plant starts flowering, nip off the flower buds. This helps the plant to become more bushy. Moreover, when flowers pollinate and produce seeds, the leaves of the plant become bitter, thus making the plant unfit for use.
- Harvesting time extends from July to November.
- When the plant reaches the height of 4 to 5 inches and has several dozen leaves, it is ready for harvesting.
- Pick only tender leaves as they have strongest flavor.
- Ideal time for picking is early morning when the dew is still present on them. As the sun rises, the oil in leaves dries up, thereby giving less flavor.