Oregano-Hot and Spicy

  • Plant Type: Perennial, zones 6 to 10
  • Sun: Full Sun/Part Shade
  • Plant Size: 12 to 36 inches tall, 12 to 14 inches wide
  • Culinary Use: Fresh, dried, or frozen leaves for flavoring Mexican, Italian, or Greek cuisine

Hot & Spicy oregano blends the easy-growing traits of oregano with the heat of a mild chile pepper. Leaves boast a traditional oregano flavor—but with greater pungency—making it a great addition to Mexican or Greek cuisine. Like all oregano, dried leaves boast stronger flavor than fresh ones.

Plants form a nicely rounded mound with multiple trailing stems. Use oregano to edge planting beds or atop short garden walls. Oregano also thrives in gravel gardens and containers. In coldest zones, plants die to the ground in winter and re-sprout in spring. In Zones 7 and south, oregano remains evergreen.

Plant Spacing: 24 to 36 inches. Plants Per Person: 2 to 3.

Secrets to Success »

Tuck plants into well-drained soil in full sun. In hottest southern and desert zones, provide afternoon shade. Avoid frequent fertilizing, which dilutes essential oil concentrations—and flavor. Feed established plants annually as new growth emerges in spring with Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food.

In coldest zones, mulch plants during winter. Move small containers indoors for winter. With established plants, in early spring remove any stems that are woody and have more stem than leaves. A simple trim in late spring produces branched, bushy plants.

Harvest and Use »

Pick leaves frequently for fresh use. Flavor peaks just as flower buds start forming in midsummer. If you plan to preserve oregano, this is the time to harvest stems. The best time of day to harvest oregano is morning, after the dew dries. Pick individual leaves or snip entire stems and remove leaves later.

Use fresh Hot & Spicy oregano to season salads, sauces, meats, or vegetable dishes. Leaves really add a kick to red sauces, Mexican recipes, and soups. To preserve oregano, dry whole leaves and store in sealed containers in a dark place. To release flavor, break leaves just before using. You can also freeze oregano, whole or chopped, in ice cube trays filled with water or olive oil. Or blend chopped leaves into softened butter. Store butter in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few weeks, or form into balls and freeze on a cookie sheet. Store frozen balls in zipper bags, using them to flavor vegetables, noodles, and soups.

Try these garden companions »

  • Tomatillo, cilantro, and peppers to create classic Mexican flavors.
  • Basil, Juliet grape tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and mint for a Greek salad.
  • Parsley, rosemary, thyme, basil, and onion chives to grow a traditional herb garden.
  • Roma tomatoes, peppers, garlic, cilantro, and chives to whip up a signature garden salsa.

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