There is much confusion concerning the difference between oregano and marjoram. To many, oregano is more of a flavor than any one individual plant. However, if you want to plant “true” oregano, Greek oregano is the one to plant. Oregano is a loose, open plant growing from six inches to two feet tall with gray-green leaves and small purple or white flowers.
Oregano must be planted in a full sun location and good drainage is required for best growth and overwintering. Oregano is marginally hardy in zone 5. Many of the really desirable types are treated as tender perennials and may need to be brought indoors for the winter. To help insure winter survival a winter mulch of evergreen boughs or straw applied in November or December after the soil has frozen is helpful. This is then removed as growth resumes in the spring.
Harvesting can begin just before the plants are ready to flower. Remove the stem tips leaving 4-6 pairs of leaves on the plant in order for it to produce side shoots for additional harvesting. This will also help to make the plant become bushier and more compact. Allowing the plant to flower will reduce or stop growth completely. It also reduces the flavor of the leaves. Hang the cut stems in a cool, dry, dark well-ventilated location. After leaves are dry, they can be removed from the stems and stored in sealed containers.
Oregano is used in sauces, tomato dishes, pizza, Mexican dishes salads and soups.