Oregano is one of the most rewarding herbs you can grow. This perennial herb is grown for both culinary and ornamental uses. It thrives in warm climates and has good tolerance to drought, making it low maintenance and easy to care for. Also, oregano plants smell great and make your garden look amazing. Keep reading to learn more about types of oregano herbs.
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Different Types of Oregano
This is one of the most common types of oregano. Its flavor works well in a variety of cooking and baking recipes. You’ll find common oregano in tomato-based dishes, soups, and casseroles.
Common oregano has square stems similar to plants in the mint family. This variety has small, light-green, highly fragrant leaves. You’ll also see pink, purple, or white flowers from mid-summer through the fall.
This type of oregano requires less water than many other plants in the mint family. Hot and dry conditions make common oregano more fragrant and flavorful. Also, its non-fussy nature makes it easy to grow.
Uses: Fresh, dried, or frozen common oregano has many culinary, medicinal, and beauty purposes. This oregano variety is a favorite in Middle Eastern cuisine as well as DIY body products.
This type of oregano is popular in Greek, Italian, and Spanish cuisine. It’s also one of the most widely stocked oregano varieties in grocery and spice stores. You’ll find Greek oregano in many dishes such as pizza, spaghetti, and lasagna.
Greek oregano looks very similar to common oregano. Some gardeners may not realize the difference. Other than the darker leaves, the main difference between Greek and common oregano is the flavor.
If you want to grow Greek oregano, be sure to give it plenty of light and little water for healthy growth.
Uses: Greek oregano is an essential ingredient in Mediterranean recipes. You may use Greek oregano with meats, fish, egg dishes, cheese, salads.
This fast-growing herb has a robust flavor that adds a spicy taste to your dishes. Syrian oregano has hairy stems that are packed with gray-green ovate leaves.
This type of oregano can grow as high as 4.5 feet in dense clumps. It thrives in hot temperatures, plenty of light and dry soil.
Uses: Syrian oregano has a similar flavor profile to mint with the addition of a spicy kick. It’s popular in Middle Eastern cuisine and can be used in recipes that call for common oregano.
This type of oregano is a member of the mint or deadnettle family. It has thick, fuzzy leaves with a robust and pleasant odor. It also has trumpet-shaped flowers that can be lavender, pink, or white.
Common names for Cuban oregano include Spanish thyme, Mexican mint, and Indian borage.
This frost-tender herb grows as a perennial in warmer climates. It makes a wonderful addition to any garden.
Uses: Cuban oregano has an aroma that resembles common oregano, but its flavor is more robust than the Greek variety. It’s popular in Cuban cuisine and is used in soups and stews, and for stuffing in poultry and other meat.
This tasty oregano variety is a hybrid of sweet marjoram and common oregano. It’s a versatile and nutritious herb that also looks amazing in the garden.
Italian oregano has large, bright-green leaves. It also has small pink flowers and is a breeze to grow in the summer. This type of oregano grows best in hot and dry climates.
Uses: Italian oregano tastes great in soups, pasta dishes, and recipes that include tomato sauce. Its flavor is sweeter and more delicate than common oregano. And it can lose some flavor when heated, so add it to your recipes at the end of cooking.
Sweet marjoram is a type of oregano and is native to Turkey. This aromatic herb has small gray ovate leaves and is cold-sensitive. It has dense stems and beautiful clusters of white and pink flowers.
Sweet marjoram is as super easy to grow as oregano, and it adds a lovely fragrance to the garden. It grows as an annual plant in cooler regions and as a tender perennial in warmer areas, making it a fantastic addition to your herb garden!
Uses: It has a flavor that’s sweeter than common oregano. It’s used in minced meat mixtures such as sausages, meatballs, or Bolognese. Sweet marjoram can lose some of its flavors when heated, so add it to your food at the end of cooking.
This popular oregano variety is different from sweet oregano. You can often find golden oregano at farmers’ markets. It has a sweet aroma and spicy flavor.
This type of oregano has woody stems with small, oval leaves. It shows off its pink flowers in the late summer. Also, it’s a low-maintenance variety that’s easy to grow. The leaves of golden oregano are aromatic, and its distinctive golden hue makes it a gorgeous addition to any garden.
Uses: Golden oregano is a useful culinary herb that has a subtle flavor. Consider using golden oregano if you want a very mild flavor. It adds zest to Italian and Mexican cuisine and complements tomato-based dishes, stews, soups, salads, or casseroles.
MEXICAN BUSH OREGANO
Mexican bush oregano is a flowering perennial native to Mexico. It also grows well in Texas and other dry, hot parts of the United States. It produces attractive, fragrant flowers and can thrive in harsh and varied conditions, making it a great choice for most gardens.
Mexican bush oregano plant care is very easy. These plants are highly drought tolerant. They will grow in a variety of soils, such as well-drained and alkaline soils.
Uses: This herb is commonly used in southwestern and Mexican cooking. You can add this herb to salsas, beans, soups, taco, and burrito fillings.
Mexican oregano has a strong flavor and is very popular in Mexican dishes. This herb thrives in a warm climate and makes a beautiful addition to any garden. However, this herb isn’t as sturdy as other oregano types, so it needs careful handling.
Uses: Combine Mexican oregano with chili powder to season chile con carne and other slow-cooking stews. When substituting dry herbs for fresh, use one-third of the amount specified.
Ornamental oregano has aromatic leaves, but it isn’t suitable for cooking. This herb lacks the flavor of other oregano types and won’t provide any benefits to dishes. There are many different types of ornamental oregano, and these vary in and climate suitability.
Pilgrim Oregano: This is an upright plant with bright pink flowers.
Amethyst Falls Oregano: This plant has a cascading shape with bright flowers and purple bracts.
Hop-Flower Oregano: This one has lavender bracts, making it perfect for landscaping purposes.
Kent Beauty Oregano: This type of oregano has beautiful bracts and tiny little flowers.
Compactum Oregano: This herb has dark green leaves, making it ideal for groundcovers.
Aureum Oregano: This one has yellow leaves that act as a groundcover.
These herbs are perennials when grown in warmer climate zones but can also grow well as annuals outside of these regions.
Ornamental oregano is best suited for containers or along walkways so that you can appreciate the subtle fragrance. It thrives in full sun and has good tolerance to drought. It needs dry soils for optimal growth but can also grow well in moderately moist soils. This type of oregano will not survive in wet conditions and needs well-drained soil.
Most oregano types need full sun, but golden oregano does best in part shade. That’s because its leaves will scorch in full sun.
Sandy loam is best suited for most oregano varieties. If your soil is moist with plenty of organic matter, oregano will not grow as well as it does in dry and well-drained soil. Allow the soil to dry out fully between watering. If planting in pots, use any general-purpose potting soil blended with some extra sand and perlite.
You should never overwater oregano. Water your oregano plant only after the soil is dry to the touch.
Temperature and Humidity
Oregano may need some weather protection in hardiness zones 5 and lower. Covering the oregano plants with an evergreen bough after will protect them from wind damage.
Oregano is easy to grow in moderately fertile soil. Do not add fertilizer or compost to its growing area. Large amounts of nutrients can change the flavor of this herb.
Oregano needs regular pruning, beginning when the plant is only 3-inches tall. Pruning encourages more shoots to grow and prevents unhealthy growth. It also keeps the oregano plant from flowering, which is perfect for keeping the leaves as flavorful as possible for culinary use.
Pruning should be a weekly ritual as the plant grows larger. You can discard any growth you are not using for culinary purposes. If the plant becomes leggy or floppy, cutting the stems will encourage more stems to sprout from the base, resulting in a fuller and healthier plant.
You can begin harvesting when oregano plants have reached 5-inches in height. The best way to strip the leaves is to grab the stem by the top and run your finger down the stem.
How to Add Oregano to Your Diet
There are many ways to use this versatile herb. Try mixing oregano leaves with other greens for a nutrient-packed salad or sprinkling the leaves into soups or stews.
You can also use oregano to make pesto or salad dressing, season meat dishes, or enhance the flavor of homemade sauces.
Oregano is available fresh, dried, and as oregano oil, making it super easy to add to your diet.
Health Benefits of Oregano
Oregano is an essential part of the Mediterranean diet. It makes your recipes tasty and has many health benefits. Research suggests that oregano has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. Also, oregano can help improve digestion, manage diabetes, and improve heart health.
Let’s look at some evidence-based health benefits of oregano.
High in Antioxidants
Oregano is high in antioxidants, which are compounds that protect against harmful free radicals in the body.
The buildup of free radicals can cause chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Several studies have found that oregano is rich in antioxidants such as carvacrol and thymol. These antioxidants can prevent damage to cells caused by disease-causing free radicals.
Helps Fight Bacteria
Oregano contains compounds that have antibacterial properties. And studies show that essential oregano oil helps block the growth of infection-causing bacteria. One test-tube study even discovered that oregano is effective against 23 species of bacteria.
Helps Manage Diabetes
Oregano herb can help you manage diabetes. Current research shows that oregano helps in lowering high blood sugar levels. It can help alleviate Type-1 diabetes through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
A teaspoon of oregano contains about ½ grams of fiber. This small amount can help improve your digestive health.
Fiber is essential for a robust digestive system. It helps increase the bulk of your stool and stimulates peristaltic motion, moving food through the gastrointestinal tract efficiently. Also, fiber helps maintain gut health and increases nutrient uptake.
Improves Heart Health
Oregano may help protect your heart. Multiple studies show that oregano extracts help in regulating blood pressure.
It also helps reduce hyperlipidemia, a condition characterized by high levels of fat in the blood.
Oregano may also aid in cancer prevention. Some research studies have shown that oregano and its components may kill cancer cells.
One test-tube study treated colon cancer cells with oregano extract and found that it reduced the growth of cancer cells.
Helps Reduce Viral Infection
In addition to protecting against bacteria, some studies show that it may also protect against some viruses. It has anti-viral properties and may prevent viral infections that cause diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain.
While these results are very promising, additional research on oregano’s impact on viral infections is necessary.
Another benefit of oregano is its ability to reduce inflammation in the body. Oregano can help people with heart conditions, asthma, diabetes, and even those who suffer from the common flu.