Oregano is a species of flowering plant that belongs to the family of mint called Lamiaceae. This plant originates from the Mediterranean region but now has been widely domesticated everywhere else, especially in the temperate Northern Hemisphere region. As a result, people are interested in knowing how to harvest oregano without killing the plant.
The aroma and unique taste of oregano are behind this edible herb’s popularity. It is used to season various foods in all major cuisines, especially Italian, French, Mexican, and Spanish cooking.
Oregano is used as a flavorful herb in seasoning food, but it is also grown as an ornamental plant with its fresh fragrant leaves and beautiful flowers.
You can grow oregano as an ornamental plant and use its fresh leaves to season your delicious food. You can dry the leaves and store them for a long time to be utilized later.
But you don’t know how to harvest oregano without killing the plant? We are here to teach you in really simple steps how to harvest oregano without killing the plant.
- When is Oregano Ready to be Harvested?
- How to Harvest Oregano Without Killing the Plant?
- Essential Tips to Remember While Harvesting Oregano
- Drying and Storing Your Oregano
When is Oregano Ready to be Harvested?
Harvesting or trimming your perennials is essential as it allows the plant to grow better and healthier. In addition, it is advised to harvest herbs before they start flowering to get effective and much better taste and aroma.
You can harvest your oregano after eight weeks since the germination of seeds. The height of the plant is a good indicator of when your oregano plant is ready to be harvested.
You can harvest oregano when it is 4 inches tall. However, you should let the plant mature and get more robust to avoid killing the plant when harvesting. A plant with 5-8 inches tall stems is perfectly good to harvest.
Harvest your oregano plants in the late spring and before blooming. The reason is that when the flower starts blooming, the leaves develop a bitter taste.
Another important point is to harvest your oregano leaves early in the morning, just after the dewdrops have dried out. At this hour, the leaves or oregano are packed with essential oils.
How to Harvest Oregano Without Killing the Plant?
Oregano blooms during the months of the summer season with purple flowers that grow on erected spikes. If you need a few fresh oregano leaves or need to cut back your oregano plant, here are some steps on how to harvest oregano without killing the plant.
Method 1: Snipping a Few Leaves
If you only need a few fresh leaves from your oregano, you might not need to harvest it. Instead, hold the stem from the bottom and pluck the leaves from the node. It would not damage the plant, and new leaves will sprout again from the node.
Method 2: Harvesting the Oregano Plant
If you need to harvest your whole oregano plant, then use the following steps to elaborate with simple instructions about how to harvest oregano without killing the plant.
Take a sharp pair of scissors or bypass shears and sterilize them with some rubbing alcohol or any housecleaning disinfectant.
Take the scissors and snip off about 2/3 of the plant’s stems just above the nodes. Always leave about 1/3 of the plant so as not to over trim it and kill it.
Spray the plant with some water after pruning and keep taking care of it as you normally would.
Essential Tips to Remember While Harvesting Oregano
After learning how to harvest oregano without killing the plant, here are some additional tips that will help you get the best harvest and an even healthier plant.
- If you are cultivating oregano for its leaves to be used as an herb, don’t let the flowers grow. When flowers grow, they divert important nutrients away from the plant, which affects its growth.
- If you need the oregano seeds, let the plant bloom, but you will have to deadhead the flowers as soon as they are done blooming. Then, you can either cut just an inch beneath the flower or the whole stem on which the flower was growing.
- During the cold winter season, oregano leaves might start browning and wilting. To prepare your plant for the spring and ensure a healthy regrowth, trim the brown leaves and stems.
- Even if you need to cut many stems while harvesting, don’t miss them all at once, trace each stalk and cut it individually just above the node. Haphazardly cutting the branches may affect the plant’s growth. New leaves will not sprout, and it may even cause the plant to die.
- While cutting back your oregano plant, remember to leave at least the third of it behind. If you cut the plant too short, it would not be able to sustain new growth and die.
- Harvest your oregano in the early morning hours. At this time, the essential oils are concentrated in the leaves, which will give your oregano a very strong and refreshing aroma. It will also enhance the taste and flavor.
Drying and Storing Your Oregano
Oregano is such a flavorful herb that can add that extra oomph to your delicious food. From soups to pasta, pizza, or stuffing, oregano is used in various foods and drinks in different cuisines. Oregano can be used both as a fresh herb or in dried form.
Using fresh oregano brings out more flavor and adds zing to your dishes; however, drying oregano allows it to be stored and used longer. Moreover, you may not always get your hands on some fresh oregano leaves, so in that case, you may have some dried leaves ready to be used.
Hanging Oregano in Paper Bags to Dry
- Take a paper bag and punch some holes in it.
- Take some freshly harvested oregano, wash it under running water and tie 5-6 stalks together with string.
- Hang them in the paper upside down, leaving the stems outside the bag.
- It will take 6-8 weeks to dry fully.
- After dried, store them in an airtight jar.
Heating Oregano Leaves in the Oven
- This method is more convenient and provides much faster results.
- First, preheat your oven to 170 F.
- Take the washed leaves and spread them out evenly on a baking tray, leaving a little space among them.
- Heat them for about an hour until they have dried out.
- Please take out the try and let it sit, allowing the leaves to cool down.
- Crumble the leaves and put them in an airtight container to retain their freshness and aroma for a long period.
With its strong earthly taste and a fresh aroma, oregano can add a zing of flavor to your delicious food. Aside from its culinary uses, oregano can also make a beautiful ornamental plant with its evergreen leaves, beautiful purple flowers, and enticing fragrance.
Whichever way you may use your oregano plant, it is still important to harvest it to ensure healthy growth. If you were worried about damaging the plant, we have enlisted some awesome tips on how to harvest oregano without killing the plant. Share how you use your oregano plant in the comments below!