Last Updated on February 20, 2023 by Griselda M.
Does oregano come back every year? It is a perennial plant, which means that it should come back each year. In my personal experience, it sometimes comes back, and sometimes does not. This is a plant that thrives on neglect – if you are a good gardener, you need to ignore any urges to care for it – at all – otherwise, it becomes an annual plant because it will die. Follow this article for more tips – that I have learned at great expense – on how to ensure your oregano is a perennial plant that comes back each year.
What is Oregano – Where Does Oregano Come From?
Oregano is a common name that refers to a few different herbs that are rich in a specific terpene profile that is useful for cooking. They belong to the mint family. The most well-known Oregano is Origanum vulgare. This may sound like it is the vulgar, or rude origanum, but in Latin, it actually means the Common Oregano. This was the one that everybody knew. So, these are Mediterranean to Asiatic herbs, that grow in poor soils, enjoy winter rainfall, and can survive in a landscape overrun by goats. They are tough, miserable plants with little sense of humor. If you treat them nicely, they will die out of pure shock.
As with all common names, people make life complicated. Other plants have similar terpene profiles, with a good example being Cuban Oregano – this is a Coleus!! Coleus amboinicus has a terpene profile that is vaguely reminiscent of true Oregano. This is a bit like the duck-billed platypus – it has a duck bill, but it is not a duck. Cuban Oregano has a smell like Oregano, but it is not. We also get Mexican Oregano, which is also not actually in the Origanum genus. Lippia graveolens has a few terpenes in common with Oregano, hence the overlap in use as a herb.
So Oregano comes from the Mediterranean to the Asian region, but things that are a bit like Oregano, and are named as such come from Cuba and the Southern bit of North America.
What Makes Oregano Taste like Oregano?
There is a specific cluster of terpenes that give Oregano its characteristic delicious herbal notes. These are actually really good for you, are antioxidants, help control blood sugar, and have a whole range of other beneficial effects. You can read more about those here.
Does Oregano Come Back Every Year- is Oregano a Perennial?
Oregano can come back every year if you treat it correctly. It is technically a perennial plant and in colder climates it will whither away in autumn, overwinter underground and then emerge in spring.
The plant has a simple life cycle – it emerges, grows into a leafy stage, flowers, sets seeds, withers, and dies down. The underground parts of the plant can overwinter if you keep them quite dry. In zones 5 and above, it should be able to make it through winter, and in zones below 5, you should look at bringing it indoors. This is what I have read – however, based on my personal experience living in a much higher zone, I would suggest bringing the plant indoors – black frosts do seem to be able to damage it. I in fact have miserable success with Oregano and often have to grow it from scratch each year as an annual.
If you can trim your oregano heavily during the growing season and delay the onset of flowering as long as possible I find the leaves taste better. As soon as the plant goes into flower, the terpene profile changes and it becomes less delicious in my opinion. Apparently, for the highest yield of terpenes in the dry herbs, harvest it as it starts to flower.
How Long Does an Oregano Plant Last?
Does oregano come back every year? If so, how many years? Oregano is a perennial, and I know people such as my Mom who have managed to keep plants alive for decades. Generally, in my personal experience, you will get about 4-5 years out of a plant and then it seems to get a bit strange. Growing new plants from seeds restores the terpene profile and the taste is better.
You can break plants up and repot or replant them. This also seems to reinvigorate them. I had a Syrian Oregano plant that lasted about 5 years and never went dormant. I have also really enjoyed growing Greek Oregano. This is supposedly perennial but I always have to regrow it each year.
This is quite funny. This thing is a pest in my garden, and while researching this article I actually learned what it was. I got a few cuttings of “mint” from my friend. I thought it was a catnip-type thing, but it turned out not to be. I have been putting this in my tea and using it as a seasoning on steaks, and today I have actually learned what it is.
This plant likes compost-rich soil, tolerates quite a lot of moisture, and will literally take over if you give it a chance. I love it, and now that I know it is Cuban Oregano I can impress my friends far more than the “I think this is a type of catnip but it tastes great” plant.
It is a species of Coleus and has terpenes in its leaves that are similar to those in real Oregano. When I was helping a very dear friend through her Ph.D., she developed terrible period pains, and I found tea made with this Cuban Oregano really helped with her pain. Take a handful of the leaves, crush them a bit, steep them in hot water for ten minutes, add a squeeze of lemon and honey, and drink two or three cups of this.
How to Grow Oregano Every Year
Growing Oregano is easy, but there are important aspects to consider. They include:
- Where to grow Oregano. Oregano is commonly grown along a path or within the landscape. It is best grown as a garden anchor because it comes back every spring and provides height and dimension to the garden. It grows well in containers and gardens alike, requiring enough light and warmth.
- How to grow Oregano. You can grow this herb from seeds or by dividing the clumps, or from cuttings taken from a healthy, established plant. When growing from seed, plant them outdoors about 6 weeks before the last frost. If you are growing oregano from cuttings or transplanting a seedling, ensure the soil temperature is at least 70 degrees F.
Use soil that is well-drained and light. This herb thrives in moderately fertile soil with no fertilizer or compost needed.
Grow your oregano in partial to full sunlight but allow a full day of sunshine as it matures to enhance its flavor. Even though oregano grows well indoors, the plant must receive adequate heat and sunshine to grow.
Don’t overwater Oregano as this will kill the plant. Water it adequately only when the soil is dry to the touch.
Space the Oregano about 8 to 10 inches apart when planting. It grows up to 2 feet tall and spans about 18 inches wide. If you plant oregano in a container, use a pot that is 12 inches in diameter. Allow your herb enough space to grow!
Oregano is a great companion plant for almost anything. You can plant it next to other crops like pepper, tomatoes, etc. In case you notice aphids have attacked your Oregano, don’t worry. This herb attracts flower flies (syrphidae) which then eat up the aphids and small bugs. Oregano’s thick foliage provides humidity that supports pepper’s growth.
Oregano thrives on being harvested – I just cut into the plant removing sections a few inches long. In established plants, you can be pretty brutal and just grab handfuls of the stuff. Imagine a goat grazing it – that is what you are doing. The more you cut it, the denser and ground-hugging it becomes.
For maximum potency of herb for drying, harvest it just as it is going into flower. I would prefer to shoot myself in the head than eat dry oregano – that is why I grow fresh herbs. Dry herbs are a good way to ruin perfectly good food. Once you get used to fresh herbs, you just cannot go back. I make sure I have seasonal herbs for different times of year – and to fill in all the gaps there is cilantro.
Oregano Benefits Conclusion
Does Oregano Come Back Every Year? Well, now we know the answer is “maybe”. Generally, the more you neglect this plant, overharvest it and just generally abuse it, the better it seems to do. Find a hot, relatively dry part of the garden, and if you are lucky, it will take over! The health benefits of all types of oregano are significant. I have had years where I had buckets of the stuff and used to eat it in mashed potato and mashed pumpkin, and liberally use it in soups and roasts, and I definitely noticed enhanced health.
If you do manage to kill your oregano, you can more often than not buy plants at your local supermarket! If not, order seeds, borrow a clump from a friend, or pinch some from a park.
All the best in growing your Oregano!
Will oregano plant survive winter?
It seems to like the shade, but it doesn't seem to like the heat. I don't know much about it, but I'd suggest that you should start seeds indoors if you're going to have them survive the winter. And then transplant them out when they're ready.
I have grown oregano in the greenhouse from seed for years. It has survived multiple winter freezes and is still going strong! It will grow in temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Does oregano reseed itself?
It should, but I'm not sure how fast it would reseed, as I have never had a problem with it. In my experience, it tends to reseed in the spring.
Can I grow oregano in my garden?
Yes, it can be grown as an annual. Oregano is a hardy perennial, so it will grow back each year from the roots. It can be planted in the fall, or after the last frost and then transplanted outdoors in the spring.
Is there anything I can do to get it growing again?
I would suggest that you bring your pot indoors for a couple of months, or until the temperature is below freezing at night. If this does not work, you may have to cut off the plant and start over.
Should I let oregano flower?
If you're not planning to use the flowers, then there's no reason to bother with the blooms.
How long does oregano plant last?
It’s a common question that comes up every time I talk about growing food in containers. People want to know how long they can expect their oregano to keep producing for, and this is one of the most important questions to answer. The short answer is: as long as you take care of it. The long answer is: as long as you take care of it, you can expect your oregano to keep producing for at least a year. As far as keeping your oregano productive and producing well, I can tell you from experience that if you grow it outside, it will do just fine.
When should I cut back oregano?
The basic rule is to let the plants get as large as they want, then prune them back to whatever size you prefer.
Is oregano perennial?
Yes. Oregano is a perennial herb that can be used as an annual. It's best to start seeds indoors in the spring, and then transplant them when the weather warms up.
Caroline is a gardener who loves to get down to the nitty–gritty of gardening. She proudly proclaims herself as a ‘dirt worshipper‘ and can often be found deep in the garden, covered in soil and singing to her plants. As a self–proclaimed ‘plant whisperer‘, Caroline believes that plants need love and attention just like any other living thing, and she loves to give them both. When she‘s not tending to her garden, you can often find her researching the latest gardening trends, or teaching others how to make their gardens thrive