The name derives from the Greek for ‘mountain joy’ and according to Greek mythology the oregano scent was created by the goddess Aphrodite as a symbol of joy. Aristotle believed that Oregano was an effective antidote for poison, and the Greeks and the Romans used Oregano as a preservative for food, and also used its scent after taking a bath and as a massage oil.
The names Oregano and Marjoram are often used interchangeably, but they do refer to different varieties. They are however often used in the same way.
Plant in spring if possible, and choose a sunny open site in well drained soil. Most varieties will tolerate any soil so long as it is not waterlogged, but Sweet Marjoram and Winter Marjoram are more fussy and should be planted in containers if the soil is not well draining.
In summer trim the bush as necessary to keep its shape, and then in autumn before the plant dies down for the winter cut the growth back to within 10cm of the soil – you can dry some of the leaves for use in winter.
There are a huge range of varieties available, and most parts of the world have a native variety. The varieties available in your local nursery will be suitable for growing in the UK.
Propagate by division, softwood cuttings in spring, or grow from seed.
Oregano is one of the finest culinary herbs and is used in all manner of recipes. Essential for Greek and Mediterranean cooking.