There are two main methods on how to grow oregano from cuttings – in water or directly in the soil.
This ultimate guide will provide you with the steps for propagating oregano from cuttings using either method, as well as the necessary conditions for growth. You can even grow your oregano indoors.
Steps for Propagating Oregano Cuttings in Water
Propagating oregano cuttings in water is a simple technique that works well for most soft-stemmed herbs such as lemon, mint, basil, and many more. Below are steps for propagating oregano cuttings in water and then transferring them to soil (optional).
What You Need
- Oregano stem cuttings
- Glass jar
- Rubbing alcohol
- Sharp gardening shears or knife
1. Get Oregano Cuttings
If you already have an oregano plant, you can snip off some stems for propagation. Otherwise, you could take a few stems from a neighbor’s or friend’s garden or buy a few oregano sprigs from a nearby grocery store or farmer’s market.
To increase your success rate in the propagation process, ensure to get cuttings from healthy, disease-free oregano plants. The best time to get the cuttings is toward the end of fall when the oregano plants are woodier. Besides, in the early spring, the weather begins to warm up, providing favorable growth conditions for the herb.
Do not make cuttings when the plant is actively flowering, as most of its energy and nutrients are focused on forming flowers. Therefore, it might not have enough energy to establish new plant roots. If you must make cuttings from a flowering plant, ensure to pinch off the flowers before you plant oregano.
Clean your shears with warm water and soap, and then wipe them off with rubbing alcohol to sanitize them. Ensure that the shears or knives are sharp enough to make a smooth cut. Snip off one or a few oregano stems, just below a leaf node, at a slanting angle. The stem cutting should be about 4 to 6 inches in length. Make more cuttings than the number of oregano plants you need to grow as some may die in the process of propagation.
2. Prepare the Stem Cuttings for Propagation in Water
Get rid of the leaf sets on the lower part of the stem cutting, and only leave the topmost set. The bare stem should be at least 2 inches long. (You may use the extra leaves in your recipes or make oregano tea).
3. Put the Cuttings in Water
Put room temperature water in a 4-6-inch glass jar, up to the 3/4 level. It is best to use filtered or spring water as it does not contain impurities but has vital nutrients. Avoid using distilled water. If you use chlorinated water, put it in the jar and leave it standing for 24 hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate.
Place the cutting in the water ensuring that at least 1/2 of the stem is submerged in water but no leaves are submerged. If propagating more than one cutting, you can put up to 3 stems in one wide glass jar as long as there is enough room for the roots to grow. Alternatively, set up each cutting in its own glass jar.
4. Provide the Plant with the Necessary Care
Place the glass jar with the cutting in a well-aerated, well-lit place away from direct sunlight. You will need to change the water in the glass jar every day or every other day. Do not wait until the water has become cloudy to change it. This could expose the cutting to algae or bacteria growth. Both can inhibit the plant’s growth and health.
If you notice algae growth despite frequently changing the water, consider transferring the plant from a transparent glass jar to a dark one. Algae tend to grow faster in clear glass but slower in darker or opaque glasses.
5. Allow Ample Time for the Roots to Develop
The specific propagation time depends on factors such as surrounding temperatures and the health of the stem cuttings. The rooting timeline ranges between a few days and a couple of weeks.
Once the roots have been established, you can either keep the plant growing in water or transplant it into the soil. If you keep growing it in water, you may need to transfer it to a bigger jar to accommodate the growing plant. Keep harvesting oregano leaves for use in your recipes as needed.
How to Pot Oregano Plants Propagated in Water
What You Need
- Planting pot or container
- Potting mix or soil
1. Harden the Plant
Before you transplant the herb, gradually harden the roots in preparation for the change in the growing medium. Start by adding a few pebbles of soil or potting mix into the water each day. Do this for one to two weeks. Observe if the roots begin to grow into the soil. Also, place the plant under shade or indirect sun for a few hours each day.
2. Prepare a Planting Pot or Container
Get a 5 to 6-inch-deep pot and fill it with soil or potting mix. Sandy loam soil is best suited for growing oregano. Oregano does not do well in heavy, excessively moist soil. If using a potting mix, use a mixture of sand, perlite, and vermiculite. You do not need to add organic matter to the soil or potting mix.
3. Transplant the Plant
Using your first and index finger, make a hole in the middle of the pot through the soil. Take the cutting from the water and set the roots into the hole. Fill in any spaces with soil ensuring the roots are fully covered as well as the lower part of the stem. Gently press down the soil to ensure the plant is held firmly in place. Ensure that the roots are 1 to 2 inches long before transplanting.
4. Provide the Necessary Care
Moisten the soil without clogging it when it dries up. Oregano prefers well-drained soil, so wait until the soil is dry before watering. Oregano does not need fertilizer to grow. Using large amounts of nitrogen fertilizers can compromise its flavor.
How to Grow Oregano Cuttings in the Soil
What You Need
- Oregano cuttings
- Planting pot
- Rooting hormone
1. Get Oregano Cuttings
Similar to propagating oregano cuttings in water, get a woody, healthy, non-flowering oregano sprig or two either from your existing oregano plants, a friend’s garden, or a local nursery. For propagation in the soil, go for woodier stems as they are sturdier.
2. Prepare a Pot for Planting
Put potting mix in the pot. Ensure the potting mix is well-drained. Also, ensure that the planting pot or container has a hole at the bottom to further facilitate drainage and prevent the soil from getting clogged up with water. It is best to use a small, 3 to 4-inch-deep, container for this process. If propagating several cuttings, use one pot per stem.
3. Prepare the Oregano Cuttings for Planting
Strip off leaves on the bottom side of the cutting, leaving about 2-inches of the stem bare. Cut the lower end of the cutting at a 45-degree angle to expose the fresh stem. Dip the bare stem in water and then into a rooting hormone.
Although not mandatory, the rooting hormone promotes faster development and growth of healthy roots. However, if you use it, you will need to wait for at least one year before consuming any part of the plant.
4. Set the Cutting in the Soil
Using your index finger, make a hole in the middle of the soil in your pot. Set at least 2 inches of the cutting in the hole and fill up any space with the potting soil. Gently pat the soil down to ensure that the stem is firmly in place. Moisten the soil and place the plant in a well-aerated place. Oregano prefers cooler temperatures; therefore, keep it away from direct sunlight.
5. Allow the Plant Ample Time to Grow
Maintain the recommended soil temperature of 60 -70oF for growing oregano. Moisten the soil as needed, ensuring the top layer of soil is constantly moist. Oregano cutting planted in the soil take about 6-8 weeks to establish and show signs of growth.
Oregano is a perennial herb. Therefore, it will continue to grow in the coming years. It grows up to 30 inches tall producing up to 1.5-inch long leaves and pink, purple, or white flowers in the blossoming seasons.
As such, it will eventually outgrow the small pot you propagated the cutting in and will require repotting. You may repot immediately after the cutting establishes a root system or wait for it to outgrow the current pot. Whichever time you choose, keep taking care of the plant to help it overcome the initial transplant shock.
Oregano is a hardy perennial herb. It is available in a number of varieties like Greek oregano, Cuban oregano, Mexican oregano, and more. It is fairly easy to grow from cuttings either by propagating in water or soil.
Be sure to use healthy, woody, non-flowering stem cuttings for propagation. It requires warm to cool temperatures with occasional exposure to full sunlight. Maintaining the right conditions will keep the plant growing for 2-4 years, supplying you with fresh oregano for your recipes.