Growing Greek Oregano in Northeast Florida Herb Gardens
(Origanum vulgare subsp.hirtum or Origanum vulgare heracleoticum)
Uses and Origins for Greek Oregano Herb Plants / Origanum vulgare hirtum A.K.A. Origanum vulgare heracleoticum For Northeast Florida:
Oregano herb plants are natives of the Mediterranean regions. Oregano has been grown and cultivated for many years for culinary and medicinal uses. Many forms or varieties are available today, each with their own unique characteristics and common uses.
Greek Oregano subspecies hirtum is a highly prized culinary selection of Origanum, grown for it’s depth of flavor and strong aroma. It is the culinary “King of Oregano’s” by popular vote.
Although the foliage is similar to others, having the characteristic deep green coloring and tiny fiber hairs, it is set apart from the crowd by it’s small white flowers. Other Oregano will have a pink or purplish colored bloom.
Try this easy trick to help you remember when you’re oregano hunting… “you know you’ve got it right when you see white”. If you are like me that botanical name you are trying to remember escapes your mind as soon as you set foot in the herb section, so look for information that says white flowers on the tag!
In the past, the hirtum or heracleoticum strain of Oregano was hard to find but is quickly becoming a staple in the Florida herb garden, and for any herb gardener that loves to cook, this is an indispensable Oregano selection for the Northeast Florida, Jacksonville and St. Augustine area kitchen garden.
Greek Oregano Origanum hirtum / Origanum heracleoticum has a bold flavor that holds it’s own against strong flavors like lamb and tomatoes. Use with vegetable and meat dishes, or add to herb breads for a wonderful added aroma and flavor.
Remember, like all Oregano it looses it’s potency when cooking, so add it in the last few minutes!
Growing Season for Northeast Florida Greek Oregano Origanum vulgare subs. hirtum / Origanum vulgare heracleoticum:
Culinary Greek Oregano herb plants will grow year round in our mild Northeast Florida Climate. Plant any time in spring, summer or fall from an S & J nursery container.
Sun Exposure for Greek Oregano in Northeast Florida:
Plant Greek Oregano in a full sun to partially shaded area in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area gardens.
When planting Greek Oregano on a porch, patio, or as an indoor house plant, place them in a location to receive at least 6 hours of sun light each day.
Soil Preference for Greek Oregano Herb Plants / Origanum vulgare subs. hirtum / Origanum vulgare heracleoticum:
Greek Oregano herb plants do not require extremely fertile or moist soils to grow and thrive, but Florida’s sandy soils will still benefit from amending the soil with a good quality compost when planting.
Avoid using cow manure or Milorganite, as these will help the soil to retain moisture, and Oregano prefers it a bit on the dry side.
In Northeast Florida, unless you have a sandy garden spot, planting oregano in dry soils may prove to be a bit difficult during our rainy seasons. If planting your oregano herbs into the ground. consider adding some sand to areas where water will stand after rains, or planting your oregano into raised beds, elevated mounds, or containers.
Oregano makes an ideal container garden herb, as it does not mind drying out and needs only a 12 inch space for it’s root system to develop and mature.
Water and Fertilizer Requirements of Greek Oregano Herb Plants / Origanum vulgare hirtum:
Origanum vulgare hirtum herb plants do not require heavy watering, as they tend to like the soil a bit on the dry side. Weekly watering for in ground plants and weekly to biweekly for raised bed or contained plantings should be sufficient.
In general, herbs require little in the way of fertilizer. To much fertilizer with herbs can be worse than not enough. Over fertilization can lead to lush green growth with a reduced quantity of volatile oils in the leaves. Reduced oils, means reduced flavor and aroma in your herbs.
However, in Florida’s sandy soils you may find your plants in some need of some help, particularly if compost wasn’t added to the soil when planting. Try fertilizing with a mixture of fish emulsions and seaweed at one ounce of each per gallon of water. Put into a sprayer and water every other week or as needed with the mixed solution.
If you find your plant struggling at any point, make up a batch of compost tea and water generously. Repeat as needed weekly or biweekly.
Size of Greek Oregano Herb Plants / Origanum vulgare hirtum (A.K.A. heracleoticum) When Mature:
The size of a Greek Oregano plant will generally remain from 6-12 inches, but when left unpruned can grow to almost two foot tall when in bloom. Expect Greek Oregano to reach maturity in its second or third year in the landscape and have up to an 18 inch spread.
Greek Oregano does not like to be crowded and will do best with at least a 12-18 inch garden spacing here in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area landscape.
Sowing Greek Oregano Herb Plants / Origanum vulgare heracleoticum Seeds into Northeast Florida Soils:
Oregano seeds germinate easily, but can vary in growth, leaf color, flavor, and smell from the original mother plant. They can be directly sown right into their final location in the garden, or planted into pots indoors during late winter and transplanted into the garden after all danger of frost has passed.
Sow your seeds 1/4 th of an inch below the soil surface and remember to thin them to at least one plant every six inches or more in a row.
Note: Culinary Greek Oregano is a specific subspecies of Origanum vulgare and should be propagated by divisions of existing plants rather than seeds in order to ensure that your plants don’t lose the intended characteristics of the mother plant.
….If you like experimenting, sow the seeds of your Origanum hirtum plant, and select the plant you prefer from among the seedlings and propagate your garden’s very own selection of oregano plant vegetatively from that selected herb.
Propagate plants that you like the flavor and other characteristics of by cuttings or dividing your existing plant to ensure you keep those desired traits.
Harvesting Culinary Greek Oregano Herb Plants / Origanum vulgare heracleoticum in the Northeast Florida Landscape:
Greek Oregano can be cut and harvested at any time during the growing season.
When growing Greek oregano for culinary use, be sure to harvest the stems in order to remove those tasty leaves. Trim when the plant’s stems begin to elongate and flowers are beginning to form, as that is when the flavor of oregano is said to be at it’s best.
Fresh Oregano can be placed into a plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator for a few days.
Oregano herbs retain good flavor when dried. Store in an airtight container in a dark place for up to 6 months for the best results.
Blooms and Seeds of Oregano Herbs for Northeast Florida Landscape:
Greek Oregano / Origanum vulgare heracleoticum will have small, white flowers in summer if left unharvested.
Oregano seeds are tiny, round, tear shaped and tan in color.