Updated February 26, 2022 by Mark Marino
Native to the Mediterranean region, oregano has long been a staple ingredient for many Italian and Greek dishes. However, this perennial herb (grown as an annual in northern regions) is not grown in many parts of the world and is popularly featured in Mexican and Middle Eastern cuisine. If you’re planning a windowsill herb garden to ensure you have fresh herbs whenever you need them, you may be wondering how to grow oregano indoors. Growing oregano indoors is actually quite easy provided you’re able to fulfill the plant’s care needs. Your reward for growing the most common species of oregano is plenty of this delicious herb to flavor pizza recipes, tomato sauce, stews, and more.
Planting Oregano Indoors: Supplies
You can grow oregano indoors with the following supplies:
- Oregano seeds or Oregano seedlings
- Potting soil (well drained soil is a must) or cactus potting mix
- Container (6-inch terracotta pots work well for oregano plants)
- Indoor garden kit
Types of Oregano Varieties
Wondering what common oregano varieties to grow in your windowsill herb garden? Although some people choose to grow oregano indoors because it’s an attractive ornamental plant with its clusters of pale purple or pink flowers, most people enjoy growing oregano indoors because of its culinary uses and nutritional benefits. A member of the mint family, oregano is sometimes referred to as wild marjoram because it’s closely related to the herb marjoram. However, oregano’s earthy and pungent flavor make it a unique herb in its own right. The most common oregano species include:
Greek oregano, known scientifically as Origanum vulgare, is the most popularly featured in Italian, Spanish, and Greek dishes. Often referred to as true oregano or Mediterranean oregano, it features a bold flavor and is the most common oregano sold in stores.
Origanum syriacum, aka Syrian oregano, offers a spicier kick to dishes than common oregano. Syrian oregano is a commonplace herb in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Mexican oregano is a member of the verbena family. Unlike the more mild flavor of Greek oregano, this herb packs a bolder taste.
Golden oregano, botanically known as Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum,’ is characterized by its golden leaves that become even more vibrant when planted in full sun. This hardy plant is most commonly featured as an ornamental plant with lovely pink or purple flowers.
Growing oregano indoors requires a sunny window. Although many people choose young plants from their garden center when growing oregano indoors, you can grow oregano from seeds. The seeds are tiny; you can simply spread them over the soil surface and mist them with water. Oregano seeds require a warm, sunny spot for germination.
Planting oregano requires about a 6-inch pot. Terracotta is ideal for this drought-tolerant plant because the clay is porous and will allow excess moisture to escape. Oregano grows in dryer climates; you definitely don’t want to overwater it. Be sure your pot has drainage holes and that you fill your containers with well draining soil.
Caring for Oregano Plants
Oregano is a low-maintenance herb. However, it does require basic care as follows:
Your oregano plants require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. If you don’t have a sunny window for this herb, you can use artificial light.
Choose a sandy well-draining potting mix for your oregano plants. Cactus potting mix is also suitable for growing oregano indoors.
You should never overwater oregano. Simply keep the soil in your pot evenly moist.
Temperature and Humidity
You can grow oregano indoors at temperatures ranging between 65 degrees and 75 degrees Fahrenheit for best results. Oregano is not fond of humidity; it prefers dry heat such as it would find in its natural growing environment.
You can use fish emulsion or water-soluble fertilizer every other week to fertilize your oregano plant.
Harvesting Your Oregano Plant
Once your oregano plant is four to five inches in height, you can begin to harvest its leaves. Snip them as needed for cooking. Harvesting the oregano leaves encourages more plant growth. Take care to cut the stem, leaving behind about four inches of growth; then pull the leaves from the stem to use.
Pinch back each oregano plant once it reaches the height of four inches to prevent the herb from flowering. Take care to cut above the leaf node. This will encourage more leaf growth.
Uses for Oregano
Oregano is a popular culinary herb, and one of my favorites along with fresh thyme. While oregano leaves can be used to add zesty or mild flavor to dishes, depending on the oregano variety in question, dried oregano is far more potent. In fact, oregano is one of the few indoor herbs to retain its flavor more intensely after it’s been dried. After you harvest oregano, you can dry it easily by cutting off its stems in one-inch bunches, tying each bunch with a string, and hanging them up to dry in a cool, dark place.
Pro tip: add fresh oregano to your homemade pizza sauce for a more vibrant and aromatic pie. Oregano is also used in the classic Herb de Provence along with thyme, rosemary, savory, and marjoram.
Health Benefits of Oregano
Oregano doesn’t only have a delicious mild flavor; it also boasts some health benefits to take note of. Oregano is known for its natural anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. Some medical research suggests that oregano may even help fight against some viruses. You can enjoy the health benefits of oregano in your meals or you can even brew the leaves into oregano tea.
Indoor Oregano FAQs
Can oregano be grown indoors year round?
Yes, you can grow oregano indoors year round provided you meet its care requirements.
How do you keep oregano alive indoors?
Oregano requires plenty of direct sunlight. It does not require much watering; simply keep its soil moist. Your oregano plants should grow fine at room temperature. Be sure you’ve planted them in well-draining soil.