How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Cultural Tips for Growing Oregano

In This Guide

Site selection

Oregano grows best if the plant receives full sun to partial shade (at least 4 to 6 hours a day). Try to plant away from areas that will be watered by lawn sprinklers. Whenever possible, select a location that is not heavily infested with weeds, especially weeds that can be hard to control with hand weeding. Also avoid areas that have had previous disease problems. Planting on level ground may be easier to work on than sloping ground.

Herbs will do well on a wide range of soils and especially in well-drained soils. If your soil forms a clump when squeezed, then it is too wet; if the soil crumbles easily, it is a good soil to use. Damp soil surfaces encourage snails, slugs, sowbugs, and root diseases; leaf spot diseases may also increase.

Adding organic matter (compost, peat moss, manure, sawdust, ground bark) makes clay and sandy soils easier to work with. The soil should be kept at a pH level of 6.0 to 6.5. Lime or gypsum can be added to soils low in calcium.

Soil recommendation

Grow in well drained soils. Can be grown in gritty, sandy loam.

Soil preparation

The preparation of your soil is just as important as adding fertilizer and soil amendments. Before working the soil, make sure it is moist but not thoroughly wet.

  1. Use a shovel, rototiller, metal bow rake, or all of them together to loosen the top 1 to 2 inches of soil. Rake the area to remove weeds and old crop debris. Be sure to dig out roots.
  2. Irrigate the plot deeply to encourage the germination of weed seeds.
  3. In a week or two, after a substantial number of weeds have germinated, work the area again to kill the weed seedlings. Be sure to break up the clods in the soil, as seeds planted in cloddy soil will germinate poorly and won't live long because the soil dries too quickly.
  4. Form soil into beds if desired, and plant while soil is still wet.

Time to plant

Plant seeds or transplants in ground when the risk of spring frost has passed. Seeds can also be started indoors 6 to 10 weeks prior to the last frost date.

Planting Dates for Oregano in California*
North and North Coast
Monterey County north
March – May
October – November
South Coast
San Luis Obispo County south
April – June
Interior Valleys
Sacramento, San Joaquin valleys
April – June
Desert Valleys
Imperial and Coachella valleys
March – May
*Planting dates are only approximate as the climate may vary greatly within the regions denoted. Contact your local UC Master Gardener program and experiment on your own to find more precise dates.

Planting Oregano

Oregano can be planted from seed, stem cuttings, or propagated by root divisions. It is easily grown in the ground or in container pots. Plant in full sun. Once established, oregano is hardy and can tolerate frost. Space plants at least 18 inches apart to accommodate their full size. Plants can grow up to 24 inches high and 18 inches wide or more.


It may not be necessary to add fertilizers or amendments when growing herbs in well-amended soil.

Watering Oregano

Oregano is heat and drought tolerant when established and requires little to moderate water.

Harvesting and Storing Oregano

Harvest leaves when tender or hardy. Prune before flowering to favor leaf growth. Oregano can be dried for later use or stored fresh in the refrigerator for about one week.

Harvest tips

Harvest frequently to encourage new growth and tender leaves.

Oregano plant.

Oregano plant.

Seed bed preparation.

Seed bed preparation.

Amending soil to prepare for planting.

Amending soil to prepare for planting.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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