Oregano is one of the most popular perennial herbs to grow in an herb garden. From medicinal, to culinary, to biodiversity, here are six reasons why you should add oregano to your permaculture garden.
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1. Oregano is easy to grow.
Greek Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a mediterranean plant that is drought-tolerant and grows in hardiness zones 4-9. It prefers a sunny, hot, dry climate with well-drained soil, but it can survive wet periods and a little shade, too. Try growing it on a slope and it will prevent erosion.
I grow it in the rain garden, where it is usually hot and dry during the summer months. I also grow it at the edge of the vegetable garden, under fruit trees, in the herb garden, and in the pollinator garden. Give it plenty of space, because it can grow to four feet wide!
Oregano doesn’t take a lot of care, and is deer resistant. Harvest often to keep it naturally pruned, and cut it back each spring to keep an attractive shape.
The dainty white-light pink flowers are an excellent addition to the edible landscape.
2. Oregano is good medicine.
Oregano is often used in natural remedies, and is a powerful—some say more effective—alternative to prescription antibiotics. Many people will take oil of oregano internally at the first sign of cold or flu. It has been known to help with fungal and yeast infections, and allergies, too.
Adding lots of fresh oregano to your meals and drinking homemade oregano tea are simple ways to prevent illness, especially when exposed to sickness, such as when traveling or visiting a hospital.
3. Oregano is a necessity in the well-stocked kitchen.
Oregano can be used both fresh and dried in the kitchen. It is popularly used in Italian cooking in pizza and spaghetti sauces.
To use fresh oregano, simply cut the stems and pull off the fresh leaves. To dry oregano, cut the stems and hang them in bunches upside down until completely dry and crispy, then strip the leaves from the stems. Crushing the dried leaves between your palms is all that is needed.
4. Oregano is a host plant for beneficial insects and pollinators.
Oregano flowers are enjoyed by pollinators of all kinds, who feed on the flower nectar.
Beneficial insects—such as lacewings—search for plants that have good foliage for egg-laying, as well as nectar for feeding. They find both food and egg-laying habitat in oregano. When lacewing larvae emerge, they are carnivorous, voracious predators of aphids, whiteflies, cabbage moth caterpillars, and many other common garden pests.
For this reason, I enjoy planting oregano as a border along the vegetable garden, especially near cabbage family crops like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and collards.
Here is a video of how popular the oregano is with pollinators in our yard:
Would you like to learn more about using herbs like oregano to improve the biodiversity of your garden, reduce maintenance, and increase yield?
You’ll find loads of information just like this in my book, The Suburban Micro-Farm.
5. Oregano is a pest repellent.
The strong scent of oregano will confuse pests sniffing out delicious crops, which is another reason to plant it near the vegetable garden and under fruit trees.
6. Oregano makes a good ground cover.
Oregano makes a walkable ground cover in areas that don’t get heavy traffic, such as in minor pathways and under fruit trees where pruning and harvesting only occur a few times per year.
Oregano is a perennial, so starting from seed will be a slow practice of patience. But it is an easy process, and growing it yourself will ensure it is free of chemicals.
Need more ideas for growing a permaculture garden?
- Do You Make These 3 Permaculture Mistakes?
- 12 Perennial Crops for Wet Soil
- How to Grow a Jelly Garden
Overall, you’ll love having this multi-functional, beautiful plant in your garden. How do you use oregano?