Oregano Dittany of Crete

Growing Oregano Dittany of Crete in Northeast Florida Herb Gardens

(Origanum dictamnus)


Origin and Uses of Oregano Dittany of Crete Herb Plants / Origanum dictamnus For Northeast Florida:

This pretty little Oregano plant is native to the Greek Island of Crete where it can be found growing wild on it’s steep hillsides and mountains. It is a new introduction here at S & J Nursery and I am excited to grow it here in our St. Augustine nursery!

It is known as hop marjoram because the blooms resemble the pretty papery bracts of hops. The decorative flowers are a beautiful creamy white and rosy pink color, and the soft, silvery gray green foliage is delicatedly covered in small white hairs. Together those characteristics make Oregano Dittany of Crete a stunning and unique garden addition.

Dittany of Crete Oregano has been cultivated for its use medicinally. For ease of digestive problems, and arthritic concerns including rheumatism. It has also been widely used in pharmaceuticals, as perfumes, and to flavor alchoholic drinks such as vermouth and absinthe.

Growing Season for Northeast Florida Oregano Dittany if Crete / Origanum dictamnus:

Oregano dictamnus is a perennial herb that is hardy in zones 7-11, though may be more prone to thrive in less humid environments like the west coast. Plant any time in spring, summer or fall from an S & J nursery container.

Sun Exposure for Oregano Dittany of Crete in Northeast Florida:

Plant Oregano Dittany of Crete in a partially shaded area as a full sun location that most Oregano herb plants prefer will be too much, especially during the summer for the leaves of the tender oregano dictamnus herb plant in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area gardens.

 Filtered light under taller canopy trees will work nicely as well.

When planting Oregano Dittany of Crete on a porch, patio, or as an indoor house plant, place them in a location to receive at least 4 hours of light each day.

Soil Preference for Oregano Dittany of Crete Herb Plants / Origanum dictamnus:

Dittany of Crete Oregano herb plants do not require extremely fertile or moist soils to grow and thrive. They require only well draining soils. But your plants 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.

This year, Dittany of Crete Oregano will be on trial, but my best educated guess is that it is going to fare best when treated like a lavender plant, lavender also is finicky in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area garden and does not tolerate our hot humid weather well. To make it survive and thrive here in Northeast Florida, I plant lavender into clay pots buried half way into the soil, fill the pot with a mixture of sand and compost at about 50 percent each and plant away! Ill let you know how my experaments go and which plants survive. Keeping my fingers crossed, these are such pretty plants!

Water and Fertilizer Requirements of Golden Oregano Herb Plants / Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’:

Again, this plant is new to me, so all I can do is help you make an educated guess as to how much water these plants will require.

Oregano Dittany of Crete is native to the hillsides and mountains of crete, that means well drained soils that recieve water for very brief periods before the water has drained off past its root systems. So water sparingly if at all during our rain season and 2-3 times per week during our cooler months. That is my estimated guess. Based on What? Glad you asked….to find out what this plant needs, I did a little research on the weather conditions where it grows and spreads rampantly in its native Greek Island of Crete.

According to the tourist information I found…Crete recieves only 1-3 inches of rainfall per month on average during the months of May to August. But recieves ALOT of rain during the cooler seasons of the yearsometimes between 40 and 90 inches in a month. In Northeast Florida we recieve on average 6-8 inches of rain per month from May to Septemnber, but only 2-4 inches of rain during the cooler seasons per month.

Their temperatures average only around 80 degrees in the summer (around 10 degrees less than St. Augustine’s average temp.) and the humidity average is around 60, (20-30 percent less than St. Augustines average). Hope that helps a little bit.

In general herbs require little in the way of fertilizer. To much fertilizer with herbs can be worse than not enough. Over fertiliztion 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 som help, particularly if compost wasnt 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 Oregan Dittany of Crete Herb Plants / Origanum dictamnus When Mature:

The size on a Dittany of Crete Oregano plants should be between 6-12 inches in height and require 6-9 inch spacing.

Blooms of Oregano Herbs for Northeast Florida Landscape:

I will admit that I do love the little mounds of silvery soft foliage from these pretty herbs, but the flowers must be the main attraction.Drooping bracts of creamy off white blooms tinged with rosy pink or purple, similar in appearance to hops. To me, these flowers look like they will be very close to the blooms of the Ornamental Oregano ‘Kent Beauty’, also a very pretty little plant!

Oregano seeds are tiny, roundish tear shaped and tan in color.