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A clump-forming, shrubby perennial, origanum majorana is a slightly fragrant herb that adds a sweeter taste to food and drink. It is evergreen only in frost-free areas due to its dislike of cold. Small and mid-green, it grows low but upright, with its woody branches thick with small ovate leaves. In summer, its tiny green bracts produce thick trusses of bi-lipped lavender and white flowers. It is these knotty bracts that inspire its common name, the knotted marjoram. A lover of well-drained, loamy or sandy soil, it thrives in full sun locations. As a cold-sensitive plant, it is best to grow indoors under glass if the climate is harsh. Pruning by dead-heading helps curtail its vigorous spread.
- No, neutral please
- Early summer
- Mid summer
- Late summer
- basal cuttings
- -34 - -1
- 1 - 180
- Full sun
- Partial shade
- Trees & shrubs
- Culinary use
- For Beginners
- For birds & bees
- Tough survivors
- 2 to 5 years
Known to botanists as origanum, the genus includes the popular herb, oregano. In fact, it has about 20 individual species, including marjoram, and in practically all cases, the strong aroma from its foliage makes it a highly desired garden plant. Generally bushy or clump forming, its foliage can be mid-green, grey-green or variegated with small ovate and deeply veined leaves growing densely on woody stems. A summer bloomer, it produces tiny but impressive pretty tubular flowers protected by long-lasting bracts in dense racemes. Oregano and marjoram both tend to prefer well-drained slightly alkaline soils, like loam or chalk, in full sun locations. A must for any herb garden, it is ideal for rockeries or as edging. Pruning back spent floral stems is recommended.
An evergreen subshrub, the great attraction of origanum amanum is its refreshing aroma when its leaves are crushed. Commonly known as the herb oregano, it is more precisely called amanus oregano after its home, the Amanus mountains in Turkey. A tiny, mound-forming creeping plant, its foliage comprises a myriad of heart-shaped, mid-green leaves, and in summer, becomes completely covered in tiny pink funnel-shaped blossoms, emerging from deep pink bracts. A superb choice for groundcover, beds and borders, it thrives in well-drained loamy or sandy soil in full sun. Tender to wet and frost, it is best to find a sheltered location, or to grow indoors. A vigorous spreader, pruning by cutting back old stems is recommended.
A dense, clump-forming, deciduous perennial, origanum laevigatum is better known to gardeners and cooks alike as smooth oregano. The reason is down to its foliage, with its dark green, ovate leaves lacking the deep veins typically associated with the herb. Aromatic, smooth oregano also produces dense clusters of small light purple or pink blossoms each summer, often lasting through to the middle of autumn. It thrives in well-drained, chalky and slightly alkaline soil in full sun, and is very tender to frost. It is perfect for rockeries, but may need to be grown under glass in cold or wet climates. Pruning away spent floral stems in spring helps growth.
A mound-forming semi-evergreen herb, origanum onites adds a rich, textured taste to any food it is added to, but also a lush quality to any garden it is planted in. Commonly known as Cretan oregano, it is distinguishable from other species by way of its stiff, red hairy stems and the explosion of tiny white blossoms that emerge on dense corymbs each summer. These corymbs are supported by green knot-shaped bracts. The Cretan oregano is a popular choice of garden edging in informal gardens, as well as rockeries, bed and borders. It thrives in well-drained alkaline soil in full sun, but being tender to frost, it is often potted and grown indoors. Pruning dead flower stems in spring is recommended.
A spreading deciduous perennial, origanum rotundifolium is a modest but intriguing, small woody aromatic herb that produces warm floral tones when in bloom. Known as the round-leaved oregano, its foliage comprises small, round green leaves, densely packed on thin woody stems, but as a creeping plant, these stems often arch over creating what looks like light green deadlocks. In summer, its small green bracts produce loose clusters of tiny, tubular pink flowers. The round-leaved oregano thrives in well-drained alkaline soil. It is ideally suited to rockeries, gravel beds and edging, and of course, is a popular addition to herb gardens. Pruning away dead flower stems in spring is recommended.
Origanum vulgare you'll know as the culinary herb oregano, a common ingredient, especially in Italian cuisine. Order a takeaway pizza and there's probably oregano on it. It grows up to 80cm tall and has purple flowers. Technically it is a perennial, but it won't last over winter in colder climates, so you should treat it as an annual in such conditions. Plant oregano in early spring, in dry soil in a sunny position. It became popular in America after soldiers brought the 'pizza herb' back from Italy with them during World War II.
A vigorous spreader, origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum is one of the most commonly found species of oregano. It is distinguishable from other species by way of its dark green, ovate, deeply veined and slightly hairy leaves growing from upright woody branches. Clump-forming, this deciduous perennial herb is commonly known as Greek oregano, but is sometimes referred to as white marjoram thanks to the loose clusters of tiny, white tubular flowers that emerge each summer. It thrives in very well-drained alkaline soil in full sun, making it ideally suited to rockeries and gravel beds, and while hardy, it prefers shelter from exposure to frost and rain. Pruning in spring is recommended.