Propagating oregano from cuttings is a great way to get free oregano plants for your garden.
Oregano is a perennial herb that is a member of the mint family. The plant is native to the Mediterranean region and has been used for centuries in cooking and medicine. Oregano is a hardy plant that can tolerate poor soil and dry conditions. The herb is more drought tolerant than some plants. Oregano can be propagated from seed, but it is also easy to propagate from cuttings.
Like many other herbs, oregano can easily be grown in many growing zones in the United States. We grow oregano at Homestead Gardens (in PA’s growing zones). Oregano is a great addition to any herb garden, with beautiful green color and the reward of fresh oregano for your kitchen!
Can oregano be grown from cuttings?
Yes, oregano can be grown cuttings, also known as propagating oregano. Propagating is simply means producing a plant that is identical (genetically speaking) to its parent by means of dividing, taking cuttings, etc.
Some plants are more difficult to propagate than others, but with oregano, a little patience and plant care will result in your very own little oregano bush!
Today, we’ll discuss how to grow oregano from cuttings!
How to grow oregano from cuttings
To grow oregano from cuttings, you’ll need:
- A small pot (3″ in diameter is good, with drainage) or growing area with some potting soil
- Rooting hormone (optional)
Before we get into the specific steps, it should be noted that growing oregano from cuttings is a lengthy process. Depending on the strategy taken, it could take as long as a year until you can harvest and eat from your new oregano plant.
Propagating methods may differ depending on the type of oregano you are growing from cuttings, but we have found that most practices are consistent no mater the variety of oregano.
Step-by-step on how to propagate oregano
Here’s a rundown of everything involved with growing oregano from cuttings.
1. Get a hold of some oregano
To start, you’ll need some oregano cuttings of course.
If you are growing your own oregano, simply cutting off some healthy, non-flowering sprigs of oregano will do. No need to cut off full branches — sprigs that are 4-6″ long will be great.
Oregano can be a more difficult plant to propagate due to its woodier stems. Try to mitigate this difficulty by cutting a step that has grown more recently and isn’t as woody yet.
If you aren’t currently growing oregano and don’t know of anyone who is willing to share theirs, most grocery stores or farmers’ markets sell packs or bunches of fresh oregano. While it’s certainly more preferable to cut sprigs straight from a plant, some fresh sprigs of oregano that are purchased should be fine to get started.
2. Strip leaves off bottom 2″ of the oregano sprig
Once you have an oregano sprig, strip off the leaves on the lower end of the stem — you’ll want at least 2″ of the bare stem, which will serve as the base for future roots!
Normally roots will grow out of the oregeno sprig’s “nodes.” These are the joints in the stem where the oregano plant sprouts its shoots. These places on the stem are where the sprigs have growth hormones that promote root growth.
Make sure you have at least 3-4 of these on your sprigs when you cut them. Since oregano normally has its sets of leaves very close to each other on the sprig, this shouldn’t be a problem.
If you are ready to propagate the sprig right away, cut the tip of the sprig at a 45-degree angle. This will ensure some fresh exposure to the center of the sprig.
If you aren’t ready to propagate, you can store the sprigs in your fridge, wrapped in a plastic bag.
3. [Optional] Dip the stem into a growth hormone
At this point, you have the option of dipping the sprig’s bare stem into a rooting hormone.
Using a growth hormone is optional, especially when it comes to oregano, which you’ll likely be consuming down the road. In some cases, it may be necessary for healthier roots, but in many cases, you can get by without it.
If you do want to use a growth hormone for a faster and healthier root system, you can purchase either the powder or gel form at your local garden center. Then, simply dip your stem into some water and tip into the growth hormone.
When propagating oregano with a rooting hormone, keep in mind that most hormones (whether in powder or gel form) will require you to wait until a full year before consuming any part of the plant.
4. Start the root structure
If you chose to start the plant with a growth hormone, you can plant the stem in a potting soil mix to ensure that it has good draining. Since these are just little sprigs at this point, planting them in a small pack or pot is preferable. This will allow you to move the plant around if needed.
If you aren’t using a growth hormone, you’ll want to establish a root structure before planting in soil. To do this, you can place your oregano plant in a glass of water, with the 2″ of bare stem fully submerged.
Some gardeners will also add nutrients to the water. This isn’t necessary but it may help the survival rate of your oregano plants.
After about a week you should start seeing roots on your oregano sprig.
Once you have some mature roots, the plant is ready to plant in potting soil. Make sure the sprig’s stem has good contact with the soil so that the root system can grow immediately into the soil.
5. Wait 6-8 weeks for maturing plant
Depending on what time you are propagating, the time it will take to root up and grow will vary. Typically, after 6-8 weeks you’ll start seeing some indicators of growth.
It’s best to store your oregano plant in a warm, humid area. If you have a greenhouse, this climate is perfect! If not, you can achieve the same effect by putting a plastic bag over the plant and container. Depending on the outside climate that you are growing in, keeping the plant outside may be good enough.
If you notice that the leaves start to turn yellow after a few weeks, it may be due to transplant shock (much like us humans, plants don’t like sudden change). In this case, simply trim off the yellow leaves and prepare for more growth.
6. Care for your new oregano plant
Now that you have your plant started, its time to start treating it like any young plant you would purchase at a greenhouse or growing center. Make sure the oregano plant gets plenty of sunlight, water (keeping the top level of soil damp is great!) and care is going to be crucial.
Keep the oregano plant out of direct sunlight for a few days after transplanting to give the plant some time to establish itself.
Eventually, the oregano plant will outgrow its original pot and you can plant this perennial directly in the ground for oregano for years to come.
Summary: growing oregano from cuttings
To summarize, oregano is a great herb to try growing from cuttings! To propagate your oregano, you can follow these steps:
- Get a hold of some oregano (either from an existing plant or from your grocery store)
- Strip off leaves from each stems’ bottom 2″
- Dip the stem in a growth hormone and plant in potting soil (optional – see step 4 for the alternative option)
- Place the stem in a glass of water for a few weeks until mature roots have grown before planting
- Store the stem and pot in a humid climate and water occasionally for 6-8 weeks
- Care for your new oregano plant!