Is Oregano A Perennial? Easy Checklist

Oregano is a woody herb belonging to the Lamiaceae mint family. It is native to the Mediterranean region. But, oregano has naturalized elsewhere in the temperate Northern Hemisphere. Does oregano live for a long time?

In its native habitat and zones five or higher, oregano grows as a perennial sub-shrub. Some people believe oregano is an annual. The reason is that it dies off due to the extreme cold in the winter. Zone four and below or northern Europe are too cold for oregano.

Another common name for oregano is wild marjoram. Sweet marjoram is a close relative of oregano. Oregano has an earthy flavor and aromatic properties. This culinary herb is a favorite of Italian, Mexican, Turkish, and French cuisines. 

When dried, oregano leaves have a more intense flavor. High-quality oregano will be strong enough to numb your tongue. Oregano’s aromatic properties may vary depending on the season, climate, and soil composition. Some varieties adapted to colder climates may have less flavor.

What Is The Lifespan Of An Oregano Plant? 

Oregano lasts around 5-10 years in warm climates. At the end of the winter, prune old woody branches that have grown leggy. Replace plants every five years to increase yields. Potted oregano will provide fresh produce for 4 to 5 years on average.

Should You Cut Back On Oregano In The Fall?

Plants go dormant during the fall because of the cold weather. It will be more appropriate to prune oregano during this period. To prevent stimulating new, vulnerable growth, avoid heavy pruning in the late fall. 

When the oregano is about 4 inches tall, you can start pinching back the growing tips. It will promote bushy growth habits and delay flowering. For culinary use, this process will intensify the flavor of oregano. As the plants grow, pinch them back weekly. 

If the plants become too woody, cut them back to the ground. It will encourage more stems to sprout from the base, resulting in a fuller plant. Avoid aggressive pruning or trimming of oregano plants during periods of high heat. Watch this video to learn how to trim oregano in the fall.

How Do You Overwinter Oregano?

Oregano needs winter maintenance for zones four and colder. To prepare oregano for the winter, stop fertilizing in August to reduce regrowth. Once the first frost kills the foliage in cold-winter climates, cut back the stems. Mulching will also help them withstand the winter.

Protect the root ball by leaving a short umbrella of stems. While keeping only the thicker branches, prune all the thin, green parts. Wait until the first freeze, as the plant uses these parts for photosynthesis.

Give your plants a light trim to tidy them up, as you can prune them later. Remove any dead wood and weeds grown around the plant’s base. Once the flowers have faded in summer, trim the plant’s growth to keep it bushy and compact.

The plants need enough time to recover before cold weather arrives. So avoid cutting the stems too low. Here’s a video showing how to trim back oregano for the winter. 

Make sure you know the growing requirements for your particular variety. If the winter temperatures are so low, replant small oregano in pots and bring them inside. Use pots with plenty of drainage holes. 

Before bringing potted oregano indoors, check them for pests or diseases. Remove insects by picking them or shaking them off. Trim any affected parts of the plants. 

Any new growth will be susceptible to frost as the days become shorter and colder. Mature shrubs that show natural responses to the season may become more winter-hardy. Avoid fertilization to discourage vigorous growth.

Apply 3-4 inches of mulch to outdoor plants after the first freeze. Mulch will help plants overwinter by providing insulation to keep the soil warmer. Leave a space of 1-2 inches around the stems. 

Up to two inches of fine bark mulch are ideal for covering the area around the plants. It is beneficial for regulating soil temperatures and preventing winter weeds. 

For colder areas, you can apply a light layer of straw or sugar cane mulch to the ground. Sweep the mulch off when the snow melts in the spring. Keep plants healthy through the fall to make them winter-hardy.

If possible, move your potted oregano into a greenhouse. Ensure to move plants before the first frost to prevent them from freezing. Provide the oregano plants with nutrient-rich organic potting soil.

Place the pots near a sunny south-facing window. Or, you can install grow lights to provide optimal conditions for plants in the winter. 

Water your indoor plants, as they cannot get natural rainfall. During the fall, add some pelleted chicken manure around the plants. This gentle release of nutrients will help keep your plants strong during the winter. 

At the end of the fall, apply a seaweed solution to improve the soil and strengthen the roots. Oregano can survive the winter if its roots are strong enough. Learn how to keep plants warm during the winter by watching this video.

Surround the oregano with plants that protect it from frost in the winter. Divide the oregano into clumps and replant them in the fall. Move them to a more favorable location with improved soil. It will expand the crop to prepare for spring’s massive growth.

You can cut back on oregano at the beginning of the winter if necessary. It is better to leave the stems on in the winter and allow natural growth. You can trim any damaged leaves or stems at the end of the winter. 

When winter begins, cut back the stems to 2 inches high if you live in a colder area. Provide it with a gentle cover of straw after that. Once the weather gets warmer, remove the mulch.


Dividing mature plants can help promote strong, healthy growth. Oregano does not like being too wet in the winter. To allow extra water to drain away, position pots in a sheltered area and lift them on pot feet. If the growing conditions are right, oregano can return each year. 

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