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10 Types of Oregano (With Pictures)


Oregano has many different uses ranging from flavor in cuisines, to herbal remedies, to use in essential oils, and more. Many people don’t realize that there are several different types of oregano and they come from all across the world. The various types of this popular herb may have a lot in common but also have some key differences, especially in flavor. Here, we will go over the 10 types of oregano and go over some key information about each one.

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The 10 Types of Oregano

1. Common Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

USDA Hardiness Region: 5–10
Sun: Full sun
Soil Type: Sandy loam
Moisture: Moist but well drained

The most common and widely grown type of oregano is called Common Oregano, or Wild Marjoram. Native to the Mediterranean, these plants are hardy in USDA Zones 5 to 10. There are different varieties of Origanum vulgare, including some hybrids.

While it is a perennial plant, it does not typically survive the winters in colder climates, so it’s grown as an annual. It can be grown in greenhouses and windowsills successfully as long as it receives full sun. Common oregano thrives in moist but well-drained soil.

Once it is ready for harvest you can enjoy it in many recipes, especially Italian dishes like lasagna, pizza, and various pasta sauces. This is the most common oregano you will find in grocery stores and local farmer’s markets.

2. Cuban Oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus)

USDA Hardiness Region: 9–11
Sun: Partial shade
Soil Type: Any
Moisture: Well drained

Cuban Oregano, also own as Spanish Thyme and Mexican Mint (Plectranthus amboinicus) is a member of the mint family and is believed to come from Africa and India, far from its namesakes. It is a perennial plant with an odor and flavor that are reminiscent of common oregano.

This plant has fleshy stems with broad leaves that are covered in soft fur. It does well in well-drained soil under partial shade with about 4 to 6 hours of sunlight daily. When in bloom, it will draw in pollinators and is quite popular among bees.

Cuban oregano grows quickly and thrives in tropical and subtropical climates but can be easily grown in colder climates if it is brought inside during the colder months or is reared up as a houseplant. It can be easily propagated by stem cutting.

3. Golden Oregano (Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’)

USDA Hardiness Region: 4-9
Sun: Full sun
Soil Type: Chalk, clay
Moisture: Moist but well drained

Golden (Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’) is a variety of common oregano that got its name from its golden yellow foliage. When it blooms, golden oregano has pink to purple flowers that remain throughout the summer. Golden oregano is very fragrant and emits the typical oregano scent.

This plant is native to Europe and Central Asia. It is slower growing and thrives in full sunlight and is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9. At full maturity, golden oregano can have a spread of up to 12 feet and reach up to 3 feet in height.

It can be grown as a houseplant but must be put in direct sunlight, preferably in a south or west-facing window. Like common oregano, it does best in well-drained soils.

4. Greek Oregano (Origanum vulgare ‘Hirtum’)

USDA Hardiness Region: 5–9
Sun: Full sun
Soil Type: Sandy loam
Moisture: Well drained

Greek oregano is another variety of the common oregano that is native to Mediterranean and Western Asia. It is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 9 and closely resembles the other varieties. It has dark green foliage and produces small white flowers during the summer.

Greek oregano grows well in well-drained, sandy loam soil and thrives in partial to full sun, though the taste is enhanced when given full sunlight. It is used to flavor up many dishes and does have a distinctly different taste and aroma than other varieties and is described as being more earthy.

Greek oregano didn’t become popular in the United States until the 1940s when it was brought back by soldiers during WWII. It is very hardy and can be started in the spring and does well in small containers or as ground cover.

5. Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana)

USDA Hardiness Region: 4-8
Sun: Full sun
Soil Type: Loamy
Moisture: Well drained

Marjoram is not another variety of common oregano like some of the others, though it does bear a very close resemblance. It is typically a bit sweeter than common oregano and has a lower concentration of carvacrol. This plant is native to the Middle East and comes in three main varieties: Sweet Marjoram, Pot Marjoram, and Wild Marjoram.

If it reaches the point of flowering, it will attract a variety of beneficial pollinators such as butterflies.  Sweet Marjoram typically reaches anywhere between 12 and 24 inches in height at full maturity. It is recommended to trim the plant when the buds appear before the flowering phase to continue growth.

This plant thrives in loamy, well-drained soils and is cold-sensitive. These plants are hardy in USDA Zones 4 to 8, and while it is perennial, they can be grown in cooler climates indoors or as an annual

6. Italian Oregano (Origanum vulgare X Origanum majorana)

USDA Hardiness Region: 5–10
Sun: Full sun to partial shade
Soil Type: Sandy loam
Moisture:  Well drained

Italian Oregano is a hybrid between common oregano and marjoram. It has a milder flavor that blends well with other herbs. Thanks to the hybridization, it is slightly sweeter than your average oregano but not as sweet as marjoram. This plant grows well in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 10.

Italian oregano grows to about 18 inches in height and produces purple blooms. It thrives in full sun but can tolerate partial shade. The ideal soil for this hybrid is sandy loam, but it can thrive well in other lighter soils.

7. Syrian Oregano (Origanum syriacum)

USDA Hardiness Region: 9–10
Sun: Full sun
Soil Type: Sandy loam
Moisture: Well drained

Syrian oregano is native to the Middle East and is a very popular ingredient in a lot of Middle Eastern cuisines and is used to make the famous herbal blend known as Za-atar.

This perennial herb is not very hardy and only does well in the USDA hardiness zones 9 to 10.  It is also known by the name Lebanese oregano and Bible hyssop. You can choose to grow this plant in cold climates as an annual, but it must be planted after the last frost.

It grows well in well-drained sandy loam soil. This plant grows quickly and will produce silvery green foliage. It can be regularly harvested throughout the summer.

8. Ornamental Oregano (Origanum Kirigami)

USDA Hardiness Region: 5-8
Sun: Full sun
Soil Type: Normal, clay
Moisture: Well drained

Ornamental oregano is the only variety that is not edible and is only used as an ornamental plant. Hardy in the USDA zones 5 to 7, these plants are native to Turkey and Southwest Asia. They are very pleasantly fragrant and distinct in appearance with blue-green foliage and pink bracts that form rosettes.

Ornamental oregano reaches a mature height ranging from 8 to 10 inches. The plant blooms from late spring to early summer and requires full sun and normal, well-draining soil to properly thrive. This perineal will create a larger colony over time but must be protected from extreme cold.

9. Mexican Oregano (Lippia graveolens)

USDA Hardiness Region: 9-11
Sun: Full sun
Soil Type: Sandy loam
Moisture: Well drained

Mexican oregano is of a different genus than the other types of oregano. This plant is native to Mexico, Central America, and the Southwestern United States. It is extremely sensitive to cold temperatures and is not built for survival if temperatures fall below freezing. It has fuzzy foliage and a sweet aroma.

It is a flowering perennial that produces small white flowers that are very popular among a variety of pollinators. It is hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11. It is ideally grown in warmer climates and those in colder climates that want to try growing it as a houseplant will need to provide them with adequate sunlight.

It is very common in a variety of Mexican cuisines but does not substitute well for common oregano because it has a distinctly different, more earthy flavor. It is closer in relation to vervain than it is to other varieties of oregano.

10. Mexican Bush Oregano (Poliomintha longiflora)

USDA Hardiness Region: 7b-11
Sun: Full sun
Soil Type: Sandy loam
Moisture: Well drained

Also native to Mexico and the Southwestern United States is Mexican Bush Oregano, also referred to as Mexican Sage and Rosemary Mint. This plant is not in the same family as Mexican Oregano and is a bit more resilient. It thrives in the arid, hot conditions of its native habitat and is hardy in USDA zones 7b to 11.

The plant will need intervention to survive winter if grown outside of its hardiness range but can do well as a houseplant if given special attention and care. This plant is fragrant and produces purple flowering during the spring and summer months.

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Oregano Growing Tips


Oregano thrives in light, well-drained, and moderately fertile soils. These plants typically do not require any additional fertilization or compost. Different varieties may have variable requirements so make sure you check into the proper care requirements for the variety that you choose. Also, be sure to check for the USDA hardiness zone because they do tend to vary by type.


Oregano does very well in partial to full sun but the flavor intensifies when it is provided full sun. You can expect oregano to grow well indoors, but it will need to get at least 4 to 6 hours of sunlight. It’s best to place these plants in a window sill that is either south or west-facing.


Oregano thrives in well-draining soil, regardless of the variety. You do not want to over-water your oregano because it could lead to root rot. These plants typically do best with an inch of water per week and the soil should be able to dry out in between watering.


If you are planting in a pot or container, make sure it is at least 12 inches in diameter, as most oregano is very fast-growing. For spacing within a garden, 8 to 10 inches apart is recommended but you will want to research your variety to see if it has varying spacing requirements.

Companion Plants

Oregano is a great companion plant and you will not have to worry about what you are planting it next to. For the sake of your oregano, you may want to place it next to garlic, onions, or chives to help prevent it from falling victim to aphids. Oregano can also help support the growth of peppers thanks to the thick foliage that helps retain humidity.

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The different types of oregano may come with different flavor profiles and some other distinct differences, but overall, their care is very similar across the board. There are a couple of species that fall outside the Origanum family like Mexican oregano and Mexican bush oregano.

They are all capable of adding delicious flavor to a variety of cuisines, except for ornamental oregano of course. Overall, these plants make a great addition to any garden and are certainly welcome in beneficial pollinators. They can also be grown indoors in containers if properly cared for.

Featured Image Credit: HansLinde, Pixabay


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