Oregano is a pungent herb that is delicious in a wide range of Mediterranean and Mexican recipes. It can be a useful addition to a polytunnel, as part of a herb garden or as a companion plant to other common polytunnel plants. As a sun and warmth lover, oregano is ideally suited to growing undercover in the UK. There are a number of different types of oregano, each suited to growing in slightly different conditions.
Oregano should be sown indoors from February and in an unheated polytunnel from April or May. It can be sown direct in warm and free draining soil, or can be sown in containers. Oregano sown earlier indoors can be hardened off before planting out in April or May or in July. It is best to keep oregano indoors until all danger of frost has passed in your area.
Seedlings should be watered regularly, especially those in containers, though it is important not to over-water. Pot grown oregano can be given a boost by feeding it with a good quality, organic, liquid feed.
After your oregano has flowered it is a good idea to trim back growth to keep your plants healthy and compact. When the weather begins to turn in the autumn, oregano for summer use should be trimmed right back to the ground. Plants do not like to be too wet in the winter so even more care should be taken to avoid overwatering. Place oregano grown in containers in a sheltered spot and provide extra protection against winter weather, as required. To get oregano leaves over the winter, pot them up and bring them indoors over winter. If placed in a warm and above all, bright location through the winter, oregano plants can continue to provide a harvest all winter long.
Oregano is said to be a good companion plant for basil, tomatoes, peppers and a whole range of other edible crops. Oregano can attract predatory insects that will aid in keeping down an aphid population. Basil planted close to oregano may help the latter to thrive.
Oregano leaves can be harvested when needed, before the flower buds open. These can be used fresh or dried for later use in a wide range of different recipes. You can expect to have a supply of oregano from around May at the earliest, right through until October and perhaps even beyond.