How to grow Oregano with a strong flavor?

homey_birdApril 1, 2011


When I was a newbie gardener, I planted oregano. It never had the same flavor as dried or fresh one found in the grocery stores -- it kinda tasted/smellesh sweet like marjorum. So after a year, I took it out and replaced it with something else.

I recently started it all over again, this time, from a strand I bought in the grocery store. I tasted the bunch I bought, and leaves tasted great. Now, after bringing it home, and putting it in the ground, once again I find that the leaves that have come up are not nearly as flavorful as what I bought.

Again, it's not that they have no flavor; it's just that the bitter-pungentness (not sure if I'm describing it right, but that distinctive Oregano flavor) or strong flavor found in the dried or grocery store-fresh Oregano is missing here and a sweetish tinge has taken over.

Any idea why? Am I watering too much? Do I need to give it more sun? I'd appreciate any ideas!!

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i grow oregano and thyme, they like it dry, i find that they have a better flavor , the spring flush of growth is milder flavor than later in the summer when they get less water.basil likes water or it wilts.tarragon i like it mild so i love the first spring growth as for water just damp for tarragon, rosemary likes it dry, very drought tolerant.i hope this helps.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 3:13PM
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What are your soils like? I would venture to guess if it's too rich in compost, the oregano isn't producing the volatile oils in the leaves. A little clay & dryness can help some herbs flavor, imo.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 6:05PM
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I think both sffog and dicot are right. My soil is quite rich and secondly, due to the rains, all the new growth has been on plenty of water. Well - looks like I will need to be patient and see if it improves during summer months when soil gets drier.

Thanks for the advice; more suggestions welcome!!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 7:55PM
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In addition to what's already been mentioned, I would suggest the following:

a) When you cut the little oreganon branches, tie them together in small bunches and hung them upside-down to dry. I was told that this way, due to gravity, they keep more of their oils and are more aromatic.

b) It's best to harvest during flowering season.

I 'm pretty sure the time (eg. morning, afternoon etc) of collection plays a role but I can't remember what I read about it. You may want to look it up on the web.

Corfu, Greece

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 5:22PM
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peachymomo(Ca 8)

In general the more a plant has to struggle to survive the more potent it's flavors will tend to be, which is why some things are better when they are stressed (like oregano and peaches) and other things are better when they are pampered (like lettuce.) I plant herbs like basil and tarragon in my veggy beds and put the 'woody' herbs like rosemary in a different place where they go directly into the unamended clay and get much less water, and they seem to like it better that way.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 11:39AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Yup. Herbs are just nice-tasting weeds :-) They do not like being fertilized, like full sun, and just enough water to stay growing. Be sure to pinch off any flowers so they don't put any energy into producing seeds (unless that's what you want). And I always cut my herbs in the morning, but I'm wondering if waiting until the heat of the afternoon would increase the volatile oils.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 12:17PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

With respect to the care and feeding of herbs: A close friend of mine grew up in a house where Oregano grew wild in their back yard. Her mother wasn't a gardener so I doubt she fertilized, tended, or pampered it in any way. The soil in that area is sandy/rocky. I always thought it ironic that her Italian parents had Oregano growing wild in their back yard, LOL.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 12:59PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

I don't water my Oregano at all. It survives just fine on winter rain alone on a dry slope in full sun. It has a good flavor.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 7:09PM
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