How to Harvest Oregano without Killing the Plant


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Fresh herbs and spices take good food and make it great food. Growing your own herbs is easy.

It also saves you money sometimes.

But there are a few tips for growing and harvesting your crops that can make your efforts more fruitful.

You want your oregano plant to keep growing and supplying you with fresh herbs. It’s not difficult to harvest oregano. However, done properly, you’ll keep your plant healthy and promote new growth. Removing all the stems at once may kill your plant. It’s best to take only half of the plant at once. 

In this article, we’re looking at the best method for harvesting oregano.

We’ll teach you how you can support the health of your plant by harvesting to encourage new growth.

We’ll also touch on some other good practices concerning caring for oregano plants.

Read on for everything you need to know about growing a thriving oregano plant.

What Is Oregano Used For?

Oregano is a widely used herb.

Many people add it to pasta, pizzas, chicken, salads, and soups.

What Is Oregano Used For?
Oregano flavor

It has a flavor that works well with different types of meat, many sauces, and all sorts of vegetables.

The possibilities are virtually endless. Oregano also adds good flavor to cheeses, eggs, fish, and beans.

When you use fresh oregano in cooked dishes, always add it toward the end.

While it’s ok to add dried oregano at any point during the cooking session, fresh oregano doesn’t keep its flavor well when it’s cooked long.

For long cook times, add the leaves at the end or use dried oregano. 

There are several varieties of oregano.

The most common are:

  • traditional oregano
  • Greek oregano
  • Italian oregano
  • Cuban oregano

Regardless of the variety, the growing conditions and the harvesting is not much different. 

How Does Oregano Grow?

Oregano grows in long, thin stalks that work well for crafting.

How Does Oregano Grow?
Oregano flowers

The stems grow to anywhere between six inches and two feet. Many hobbyists use the stalks to make wreaths and other types of decorative items. 

The leaves of the oregano plant are oblong and come to a point. They are green with a gray tint. Some varieties of the plant have blooms.

The flowers are small and either purple or white. Potted oregano looks like a shrub when it fills in.

The leaves push to the outside of the plant to get sunlight making it look like there aren’t stalks but branches instead.

Harvesting Oregano without Killing the Plant

It’s easy to harvest oregano.

Technically, all it takes is clipping the leaves off or chopping the stems.

But haphazardly chopping away could kill your plant, and then you won’t get any more good oregano from it.

Let’s talk about the best way to harvest your oregano.

For starters, don’t ever cut out more than half of the plant. Another good tip is to harvest often. Plants get used to being pruned.

New growth tends to generate faster the more frequently you harvest.

Start at the top of the stems. Harvest the leaves moving down from the top.

Don’t cut all of the leaves off, though. Leave behind at least one pair of leaves at the bottom of the stems.

Once the plant has time to regrow its leaves, repeat your harvest process.

Proper Tool: Always make sure you use a sharp pair of shears. The cleaner the cut, the healthier the plant remains, which encourages new growth. It also prevents diseases.

When Is the Best Time to Harvest Oregano?

Don’t harvest your oregano before it’s had time to mature.

Once the seeds germinate, you should wait up to about 8 weeks before you cut any leaves off.

Best time for harvest oregano plant
Harvest oregano tips

Your plant should be at least 6 inches tall for the first harvest. 

If you’re harvesting to make dried oregano, cut your plant in mid-summer. This is right before the plant blooms with those small white or purple flowers.

The flavor is at its peak intensity.

You can get an even stronger flavor if you harvest the leaves early in the morning before the dew dries. 

Harvesting Personal Oregano Plants

Many of us have our own personal oregano plants.

We often harvest herbs only when we want to put them in a meal. If you just need a little to season your dinner, you can pinch leaves from the top of the plant.

Position your fingers just above a pair of leaves (leaf node) and pinch the stem off. 

Large harvests consist of the method mentioned above where scissors or shears are used to cut the stems from the top down. 

Pruning Oregano Plants

Harvesting keeps plants trimmed and healthy.

It aids in the production of newly generated leaves. But what if you don’t harvest your oregano plant?

Does it need pruning?

Pruning plants
Pruning oregano

Yes, it does. Oregano will continue to grow up tall. It then starts to space out. It becomes, what’s referred to as “leggy,” when it gets to a certain point.

You’ll notice less of a bush-like look to it and more space between the leaves. 

A “leggy” oregano plant isn’t as healthy as a bush-like one. You can restore a “leggy” oregano plant by pruning it or cutting it back. 

The best time to cut back your plant is before it’s allowed to flower. When the flowers bloom, the oregano leaves start losing flavor. Usually, oregano flowers toward the end of summer. 

Go Easy: Cut the stems down by about half their lengths. Just as with harvesting, make your cut right above a leaf node. Leaving a stem length above the leaves doesn’t do much for the generation of new growth. 

Storing Freshly Harvested Oregano

Fresh oregano keeps well for up to a couple of weeks in the right conditions.

If you’ll be using yours soon after harvesting it, store it between moistened paper towels. Place these in the refrigerator. 

Storing oregano after cutting
Storing oregano

Stems of oregano you’ll use in the next week or two should be stored standing up in a glass or vase filled with fresh water.

You should change the water out every couple of days for the best results.

You can also store whole oregano leaves in airtight containers in the freezer.

The leaves can be stored this way for an entire year.

Making Dried Oregano

It’s easy to make dried oregano.

You can do this any time you have a larger harvest than required. It also makes good use of the leaves you got from cutting back the plant.

Below are the steps for drying oregano:

  • Wash oregano sprigs
  • Remove all moisture from leaves
  • Hang oregano bunches where it’s dry and warm
  • Crumble oregano when completely dry and brittle

An alternative to hanging the sprigs is to place them between sheets of parchment paper.

Make sure the sprigs are laid in a single layer for this method. 

Wrap Up

Harvesting oregano properly leads to a healthier plant that will continue to generate flavorful leaves into the future.

Chopping the stems with no regard for what the plant needs opens it up to diseases, damage, or even death. 

Never take all the leaves at once. Cut your oregano from the top down.

And always make clean cuts just above leaf nodes.

This keeps your plant healthy by encouraging new growth going forward.

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