How to Harvest Oregano Without Killing the Plant? (My Best Tips)

Oregano (also known as marjoram) is an aromatic herb part of the mint family. It can be used in various dishes amongst a wide array of cultures and is a staple herb in many kitchens. It also has some positive health benefits. The plant’s leaves can be utilized fresh or dried in salads, sauces, infused oils, soups, stews, and dressings.

It also pairs well with most meats as a dry rub and vegetable-filled dishes. At the same time, the oil extract can be used as a potent natural medicine.

So it’s always beneficial to know how to harvest oregano without killing the plant, and trust me it is quite an easy process but requires patience.

From seed to full-grown, you will need around 80-90 days. It is possible to start using the leaves after as little as 6-8 weeks. This is, of course, if the growing conditions and environment are optimal.

You must start harvesting when the plants reach 6 inches tall as it will encourage more growth and stop the plant from going to bloom and seed.

The harvesting process is a great skill to learn and master from others who love gardening and can share their tips and experiences. They can even guide you in harvesting oregano without killing the plant!

How to Harvest Oregano Without Killing the Plant
How to Harvest Oregano Without Killing the Plant

How to harvest oregano Without Killing the Plant?

The beauty of an oregano plant is that you can use this herb’s produce for an exceptionally long period if maintained carefully and correctly. Around 5 or 6 years! So, how do you harvest oregano without killing the plant, though?

The main thing to think about is ensuring that they don’t bloom and go to seed. When this occurs, it means that its glorious growth run is over. So to ensure that this doesn’t happen, here are a few simple tips to follow.

  • Use sharp, sterile (if possible) pruning shears or scissors. This will ensure a clean cut and result in fresh sprouting from the cut area when the time arises. 
  • If you want a lot of the herb, don’t remove more than half the plant at a time. This is a general rule, and you should ensure that the plant has time to recover and regrow before harvesting again.
  • Harvest the desired stem from the top down. Aim to leave at minimum one pair or set of leaves at the base of the stem. This will be just above a growth node. Again, this will encourage regrowth.
  • Any leggy stems (those with more stem than leaves) should be trimmed back at winter’s end. Once these are pruned, the plant doesn’t have to deliver nutrients to that spot anymore and can focus on boosting other areas.

The key is to keep the plant happy and healthy, so these tips will ensure that they have every chance possible for robust, bushy growth.

Growing Conditions For harvesting oregano

How an oregano plant should be pruned is not the only factor that assists optimal growth with the herb. Some other aspects should be considered. Some are obvious, and others can be easily missed within planning. Let’s look at them and how you can apply them to your oregano plant.

Growing Conditions For harvesting oregano
Growing Conditions For harvesting oregano

Weather Conditions

Oregano adores the sun so when planning your herbs, allow them full sunlight for as much of the day as possible. The herb’s flavor intensifies the longer it can receive some much-welcomed rays.

It can also tolerate the cold depending on the variety but will not be able to produce that aromatic flavor in such conditions. If they are going to be grown in tropical, more rainy areas, it’s recommended to grow in pots as these can be moved around to help protect them from extreme wind and rain. 

Heat Exposure

A plant like this one can tolerate up to 60-80 °F (15-27 °C) during the daytime and between 50-60°F (10-15°C) after dark. For best results, it should be planted somewhere with full sun. In extreme heat-type climates, partial shade should be offered as the leaves can burn under these conditions. 

Soil Preparations

Oregano grows best in fertile soil with good drainage and preferably a pH level of around 6.5-7.0. Adding compost to the garden bed in spring in preparation for your growth will reduce the need for any fertilization. If you plan to grow in containers, you’ll still require booster fertilizer as the plant will use the original soil nutrients a lot faster. Hence the need for a top-up.

Watering Schedule: How often do you water oregano?

Oregano, as we know, can tolerate a decent amount of heat. Under those circumstances, having a frequent watering schedule to stop them from drying out is very important.

It is recommended that a plant receives around an inch of water per week. If the weather conditions are extremely dry, then a little extra will be much welcomed by the plant.

Keep in mind not to drown it or end up with a root rot problem. A good way to check if it requires water is to see if the soil has completely dried out. If so, then that’s your clear sign to top up. Aim to check on it every couple of days as a sure safe way to keep it happy.


Oregano plants tend to bush outways, so they require more space than other herbs. They can grow to 1-2 feet tall and spread upto 18 inches. An ideal spacing distance is around 8-10 inches apart, which will allow them to be close but still manageable when it comes to harvesting and maintaining their growth.

The root system of an oregano plant can grow upto 6 inches, so that 8-10 inches worth of spacing will make sure that they have ample space to do their thing.

Growing Conditions For harvesting oregano
Growing Conditions For harvesting oregano

Companion Planting

Oregano is a great companion plant to others who don’t require much water. These can include plants such as

  • Asparagus
  • Beans
  • Bee Balm
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Grapes
  • Lavender
  • Melons
  • Peppers
  • Rosemary
  • Squash
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

Oregano benefits the majority of these plants in such a way that it helps to repel pests and insects. It can also attract pollinators which will further improve the above-mentioned growth.

On the other hand, the following are not recommended as companion plants as they require much more moisture than an oregano plant to thrive in. 

  • Basil.
  • Chives.
  • Cilantro.
  • Mint.

Some Important Tips to Consider

Some other important factors should be considered when harvesting oregano to ensure that you maximize the yield obtained from the plant.

Some Important Tips to Consider Harvest Oregano
Some Important Tips to Consider Harvest Oregano

Should you let oregano flower?

If an oregano plant is left to flower, you can prune the flower heads and let them dry out. These can be stored in a paper bag and eaten or made into a refreshing tea. Another benefit of letting this herb flower is that it will attract some good pollinators, including bees and butterflies, to the rest of your garden.

If they do go to flower, though, they will stop producing as many leaves until the flowers are pruned. The plant will spend its energy sending nutrients to the flowers instead of the stems and leaves. In addition, the flavor will be less intense while it flowers.

Depending on what you want to do with the parts of the plant will ultimately make your decision for you. It’s always good to maintain a herb either way. 

Can I harvest oregano after its flowers?

Oregano can be harvested after flowering, but the flavor won’t be as pungent or aromatic again. They may even taste more bitter, depending on the variety. It’s best to harvest just before flowering, as the buds are starting to pop out and form along the stems. When pruning, cut just above a growth node so new growth can sprout from the cut area. 

Should you deadhead oregano?

Deadheading is recommended on most bushy herbs, and Oregano is no exception. To ensure that you get the most out of your plant, prune the heads of the top of each stem and prune them just above a node to allow for regrowth on the nodal point. 

Does oregano regrow after cutting?

Oregano is the gift that keeps on giving. If maintained correctly, it has the potential to be a 5-6 year gift! Therefore, it is essential to continue pruning a plant of this nature if you want longevity. Each time you prune in the right spot, oregano will just keep multiplying. 

Which time of the day is best to harvest oregano?

Once you see that buds are starting to form before flowering, it’s time to give your oregano plant a decent trimming. This part of the plant growth cycle is where you’ll achieve the best flavor also.

Aim to start your pruning in the morning after any dew has evaporated. It’s worth noting that the highest concentration of oregano’s essential oils peaks in the morning warmth. 

What is the best season for cutting and trimming oregano herbs?

Oregano can be harvested almost always, depending on the environment. The best time is all through and more towards the end of summer, though, and before the first frost of the year. This will ensure that the plant has had enough time to maximize growth and flavor. 

How do you remove oregano leaves from the stem?

Regardless of whether you’re trying to remove oregano leaves from their stem attached or detached from the plant, the method is quite similar. Simply hold the top of the stem with one hand, and using a pinching motion, slide your fingers down the stem, working your way to the bottom.

The leaves should have fallen into one hand, and the stem should be bare of its leaves in your hand. There are kitchen hacks you can also try. Take any kitchen utensil/tool with holes, e.g., a grater, a colander, or even a slotted spoon.

Feed the bottom of the stem through one of the holes and pull it through. The leaves should drop off as you pull. Give it a try!

Some Important Tips to Consider Harvest Oregano
Some Important Tips to Consider Harvest Oregano

How do you prune oregano in the spring?

Once your oregano plant reaches 4 inches in height, it’s time to give it a prune. Spring is the best time to begin if you want to maintain the herb’s height steadily. Simply take a pair of pruning shears and cut them to 2-3 inches. Your plant will have some bushy growth by summer when you will start to harvest.  

Does oregano grow back every year?

Although oregano grows well in the warmer months, it can also continue to yield all year round. In addition, if grown under optimal conditions and within the right environment, it can produce its leaves for upto 5 or 6 years. It is a robust herb known to grow even in snowy areas, which makes it almost unkillable!

How do you Store Fresh Oregano?

There are a few different ways to store oregano, depending on what you plan to use it for. Whether you want to use it fresh or dried, cleaning it up beforehand is advised.

If you wish to have it in its fresh form, it’s highly recommended that you only start washing your oregano up a day or 2 before use. After this time frame, it can start to discolor and lose some of its flavors.

How do you Store Fresh Oregano?
How do you Store Fresh Oregano?


Run the oregano under cold water over a colander/strainer. Hold the top of the stem in one hand and gently rub your other hand from top to bottom. Try to remove any dirt or grit, if any. Leave in the colander/strainer to let any excess water runoff. 


Evenly spread the damp stems with leaves over a kitchen towel or paper towel. Let them dry for 15-30 mins. If you’re impatient, you can take another towel and gently pat them on top, but the process doesn’t take too long. 

From this point, you can use the fresh oregano for whatever you like, but to dry the herb that you can use in a shaker or as a rub, we need to go one step further.

Drying For Shaker/Rub Mix

Once your oregano is cleaned up and dried, it’s time to hang them up to dry out. You will need to find somewhere warm and sunny to hang them, e.g., a swing set, archway, timber roofing, or a room with lots of light. Make bunches of around ten stems of the herb and tie a piece of string tightly around the bottom ends of each bunch.

Make sure that the string is long enough to tie off at your desired spot and hang down about 5-10 inches from that tie-off point. Wait around 3 days and remove. Once they have completely dried out, you can squeeze the leaves, and they should crumble off.


Regardless of the form of the herb that you now have, it’s time to store them. Fresh oregano is best stored in the refrigerator. Simply put the stems and leaves into a plastic bag with a damp cloth or paper towel inside and put them in the fridge. They should last there for upto 3-4 days until they start to lose their intense flavor and smell. 

If you want your dry herbs dried, simply add them to an old herb shaker bottle or a brown paper bag. Either option will make sure that they last around 2-3 years!

Also Read: How to Harvest Chives without killing it

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What do you do with oregano at the end of the season?

Oregano is a perennial plant, so you’ll get more than 1 season. Give your plant a good prune close to the end of the harvest season and before the first frost. This will ensure that it can continue to thrive into the next season. 

How do you make oregano bushy?

To make oregano bushy, let them grow to around 4 inches tall after planting them. At this height, prune them just above the growth nodes to ensure that they can continue to flourish outways. The growth will come from these nodes, so it’s important to ensure they are not disturbed during the initial pruning process. Once you cut, 2 stems will often grow from the new area.

What is a good companion plant for oregano?

Generally, any other plants don’t require as much moisture. For example:
Asparagus, Beans, Bee Balm, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Grapes, Lavender, Melons, Peppers, Rosemary, Squash, Tarragon, Thyme, Tomatoes, and Zucchini, to name a few. All of the above-mentioned are great for repelling insects and bugs and attracting pollinators. 

How long does an oregano plant live?

If grown in the right conditions and optimal environment, an oregano plant can live for 5-6 years. They will require regular maintenance, but this herb is the gift that keeps on giving!

How do you know when oregano is ready to pick?

There isn’t a visual guide except for checking out the height of your oregano. As a general rule of thumb, it’s safe to start harvesting when they are 4 inches tall. It will all depend on what you wish to use them for. If you plan to keep the plant long-term, it is recommended to let them grow out a few times with regular prunes, ensuring long-term yields. Otherwise, the height will be able to tell you when you can start using your plant.

Does oregano spread in the garden?

Oregano can grow to around 1-2 feet tall and spread 18 inches. It can take over your garden if not maintained. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your garden type. 


If you’re looking to add a herb that produces great groundcover and can look after itself, then oregano is worth the time and effort to plant.

It’s aesthetically pleasing, smells amazing, attracts pollinators, prevents weeds, and keeps insects and bugs away. It’s also a great addition to lots and lots of yummy recipes.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand the best way(s) to learn how to harvest oregano without killing the plant!

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