A perennial herb that is hardy in zones 5-9 and grows 8″ tall. Aromatic and flavorful with dark green leaves and small white flowers. Plant in spring or fall with full sun or partial shade, in moist, but well-drained soil, with a pH of 6.5-7. Water the oregano only when the soil is dry. Pinch off flower buds when they start to grow. These will reduce the flavor of the oregano. Harvest the oregano when it is about 6 inches tall.
Origanum is a genus of about 20 species of herbaceous perennials and subshrubs in the family Lamiaceae, native to the Mediterranean and south eastern Asia, where they are found in open or mountainous habitats. The genus includes the important group of culinary herbs, marjoram and oregano.
There are many types of oregano with varying flavours used for cooking and some species which are used ornamentally. Apart from flavour, oregano has unique medicinal properties which were well known from ancient times. Oregano is the anglicised form of the Italian origano, or possibly of the medieval Latin organum. Both were drawn from the Classical Latin term origanum which was itself a derivation from the Greek origanon. The herb is commonly called ‘joy of the mountain’ in Greece. The etymology is often given as oros, meaning ‘mountain’ and the verb ganousthai or ganos meaning ‘delight in’ or ‘joy’. Greeks felt that the sweet smell was created by Aphrodite as a symbol of happiness. Bridal couples were crowned with it and it was placed on tombs to give peace to the departed.