Oregano has become one of my favorite plants to grow, and not necessarily for it’s culinary properties. I’ve found that it can be an excellent landscape plant for lots of reasons!
Food and health: Most people know Oregano as one of the main ingredients in Italian cooking. The leaves of many varieties add a wonderful, spicy flavor to food when added fresh or dried. It can also be made into a fragrant tea that is said by some to have anti-oxidizing properties and a variety of health benefits.
Lovely leaves: There are many varieties of Oregano and they display a variety of different growth habits. Golden Oregano has bright yellow-green leaves and grows low to the ground. Other varieties have deep green, silver or purple-tinted leaves and can grow in shrub-like clumps. Some varieties take on both characteristics in different stages of growth. You’ll have a lovely green plant from last frost to first hard freeze. Oregano will go mostly dormant for the winter, but since it is a perennial, you’ll get an even bigger, prettier plant the next spring!
Beautiful flowers: When getting ready to flower in mid summer, the stems will grow taller and become topped with elegant spikes of white, pink or purple flowers. The flowers themselves don’t offer a lot of fragrance that is detectable by human noses, but the plant will give off a subtly spicy aroma on a warm day or when jostled. The blossoms don’t all bloom at once, so you’ll enjoy weeks of nodding flower clusters before they go to seed.
Versatility: Oregano is in the Lamiaceae Family, which is a family full of hardy herbs like mint, marjoram and thyme. Oregano, like it’s hardy perennial cousins, is very versatile and easy to grow. It prefers full sun, but can also flourish in full shade. It tolerates drought very well and can even grow happily in poor soil. It can be easily propagated by seed or cuttings, or will sometimes spread from the root, and fill in a bed in a few years. If you want a plant that handles adversity well, perhaps for a low-water garden, Oregano is a very good choice!
Beneficial insect attractor: Bees go absolutely crazy over Oregano blossoms. Since oregano is revolting to many insect pests, there’s no need at all for pesticides. This provides a safe place for pollinators like honeybees to feast unscathed.
There are my reasons to offer Oregano as a plant for much more than just herb gardens. I hope you consider growing some in your yard this year!