Different Types of Oregano: Growing 6 Culinary Varieties

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Common Types of Oregano

Oregano is an extremely versatile herb. There are many types of oregano, and each one brings its own unique flavor profile and culinary uses to the table.

What are the different types of oregano? From a culinary perspective, Greek oregano, Turkish oregano, Mexican oregano, Marjoram oregano, Syrian oregano, and Cuban oregano are all popular varieties of this flavorful herb.

Introduction to Different Types of Oregano

When I started writing this article, I thought I knew what oregano was, but boy was I mistaken. There is actually a tremendous amount of confusion about the most common types of oregano. If you’re wondering what kind of oregano you planted in your herb garden, you’re probably not alone. Is it Greek oregano? Is it Italian oregano? Common oregano? Just regular oregano oregano? There are many species of oregano (and also many sub-species as if things weren’t confusing enough).

The world of oregano is far more intricate than I initially thought. If you find yourself wondering about the exact kind of oregano thriving in your herb garden, rest assured that you’re not alone. I’ll do my best to shed some light on this matter, and together we can gain a better understanding of the various types of oregano.

Common Mediterranean Oregano Scientific Names

The genus Origanum has over 40 species found exclusively in the Mediterranean region. However, Origanum vulgare is the species most commonly referred to as oregano. It can be found natively from the Macaronesia Islands across Europe to China.

A few of the most common Mediterranean oregano types include:

  • Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum), which is native to Greece, the Balkans, Turkey, and Cyprus, and
  • Turkish oregano (Origanum onites), which is native to Turkey, Greece, and Sicily.

What is the difference between Greek oregano and Italian oregano?

Greek oregano and Italian oregano are cultivars (cultivated varieties) of the same species from different regions, Greece and Italy, respectively. They both belong to the species Origanum vulgare subs. hirtum, a sub-species of Origanum vulgare, which is generally what’s referred to as true oregano.

However, there are other species of oregano that are also commonly called Italian oregano, including Origanum X majoricum. Likewise, there are additional species such as Origanum heracleoticum which are somewhat commonly referred to as Greek oregano. So things are not quite as clear cut as one might think.

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Generally speaking, Greek oregano and Italian oregano most commonly refer to different cultivated varieties of the same species, Origanum vulgare subs. hirtum.

Purchase Greek Oregano plants at Amazon or Greek Oregano seeds at SeedsNow

Greek Oregano

Scientific name: Origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum

Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum) is one of the most popular types of oregano. Its distinct flavor profile and robust characteristics make it a favorite among culinary enthusiasts.

Origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum is also commonly referred to as Italian oregano or Mediterranean oregano.

Greek Oregano Flavor Profile and Characteristics

Greek oregano stands out from the crowd. Originating from the Mediterranean region, it boasts a robust taste with hints of lemon and peppery undertones, adding depth to any dish it graces. A staple herb in Greek and Italian cuisine for centuries, Greek oregano’s distinctive character stands apart from other varieties.

Scientific NameOriganum vulgare subsp. hirtum
Common Name(s)Greek Oregano, Italian Oregano
Height12-24″ (30-60cm)
Watering NeedsModerate
Hardy Zone Range5 – 10
Flower ColorWhite

Greek Oregano Growing Conditions and Cultivation Tips

Greek oregano has a high tolerance to a variety of conditions. This true member of the Origanum genus, Greek oregano is a highly adaptable herb, and it stands out due to its remarkable adaptability across a broader range of zones compared to other oregano varieties. Greek oregano thrives in zones 5-10, but with proper care and protection, it can also be grown in even colder zones. I am able to grow Greek oregano as a perennial in my herb garden in Minnesota, even with our harsh winters here in Zone 4b.

Greek oregano enjoys plenty of sunlight, so choose a location in your garden where it will receive at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. Well-draining soil is essential to prevent waterlogging, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot.

To ensure optimal growth, provide regular watering while allowing the soil to dry slightly between each watering session. Remember not to overwater Greek oregano; moderation is key.

Pruning is another important aspect of cultivating Greek oregano. Regularly trimming back the stems promotes bushier growth and prevents leggy plants. Harvesting leaves regularly encourages new growth and ensures a steady supply for culinary endeavors.

Purchase Greek Oregano plants at Amazon or Greek Oregano seeds at SeedsNow

Greek Oregano Culinary Uses

Greek oregano’s rich flavor makes it a staple ingredient in many Italian and Mediterranean dishes. Its versatility shines through in a variety of culinary applications.

Greek oregano’s flavor profile pairs exceptionally well with tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil, making it suitable for various Italian recipes such as pizza, pasta sauces, and bruschetta.

Another popular use for Greek oregano is in traditional Greek dishes like souvlaki and tzatziki sauce. The herb’s robust taste complements the flavors of grilled meats perfectly. Tzatziki, a refreshing yogurt-based dip, benefits from the herb’s lemony notes, giving it an extra zing.

In addition to traditional Italian and Greek cuisine, Greek oregano finds its way into various recipes worldwide. Its strong aroma makes it an excellent choice for marinades, infusing meat or vegetables with its distinctive flavor profile. Roasted vegetables take on a new dimension when seasoned with this aromatic herb.

Whether you’re preparing a classic Mediterranean feast or experimenting with global flavors, Greek oregano is sure to elevate your culinary creations to new heights.

Turkish Oregano

Turkish oregano

Origanum onites ‘Aurea’ kz02 – Image by Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz – from Wikimedia (CC-BY-SA-4.0)

Scientific name: Origanum onites

Turkish oregano (Origanum onites) is a highly sought-after variety of oregano renowned for its distinct flavor profile and aromatic characteristics. It is considered one of the most popular types of oregano due to its unique and intense taste.

Turkish Oregano Flavor and Culinary Uses

The flavor of Turkish oregano is bold, robust, and slightly peppery, with hints of citrus and earthy undertones. Its fragrance is strong and enticing, adding a delightful aroma to any dish it is used in.

In terms of culinary uses, Turkish oregano is a staple herb in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. Its robust flavor makes it an excellent addition to various dishes, such as sauces, marinades, soups, stews, and grilled meats. It pairs well with tomatoes, lamb, poultry, and vegetables like eggplant and zucchini. Turkish oregano is often used in spice blends like za’atar, adding a distinctive taste to the mixture. Additionally, it can be sprinkled on pizzas, salads, and roasted vegetables to enhance their flavors and provide a touch of aromatic warmth.

Growing Requirements and Care Instructions for Turkish Oregano

When it comes to growing conditions, Turkish oregano thrives in warm climates and prefers full sun exposure. Turkish oregano is a perennial herb that is hardy to Zones 7 to 10. It requires well-drained soil with good moisture retention. This variety of oregano is known for being relatively low-maintenance and adaptable to different environments. However, it tends to grow best in regions with mild winters and long, dry summers.

Cultivating Turkish oregano can be done through seeds or cuttings. If starting from seeds, it is recommended to sow them indoors around six to eight weeks before the last frost date. Once the seedlings have grown, they can be transplanted into the garden or larger pots. Alternatively, cuttings can be taken from existing plants and rooted in moist soil.

Scientific NameOriganum onites
Common NameTurkish Oregano
Height12-24″ (30-60cm)
Watering NeedsModerate
Hardy Zone Range7 – 10
Flower ColorWhite to pink

Turkish oregano stands out among other oregano varieties for its intense flavor profile, robust aroma, and versatility in the kitchen. With suitable growing conditions and minimal maintenance requirements, it can be cultivated in various regions. Whether used in Mediterranean-inspired dishes or spice blends, Turkish oregano brings a vibrant and delightful taste that elevates culinary creations to new heights.

Mexican Oregano

Leaf Image by Mora-Fallas Adán – from plantnet (CC-BY-SA-4.0)

Scientific name: Lippia graveolens

Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens) is a type of oregano that is native to Mexico and Central America. This particular variety of oregano offers a unique flavor profile that combines citrusy notes with a mild spiciness, setting it apart from other types of oregano.

Mexican Oregano Flavor Characteristics

One of the reasons why Mexican oregano stands out is its distinct taste. Unlike Mediterranean or Greek oregano, which tends to have a more earthy and robust flavor, Mexican oregano offers a blend of citrusy notes and mild spiciness. This unique combination adds depth and complexity to dishes, making them truly memorable.

Mexican Oregano: Native to Mexico and Central America

Mexican oregano has its roots deeply embedded in the culinary traditions of Mexico and Central America. It thrives in the warm climates found in these regions, where it has been cultivated for centuries. The herb’s vibrant flavors and aromatic qualities have made it an essential ingredient in various traditional dishes.

Scientific NameLippia graveolens
Common NameMexican Oregano
Height3-5′ shrub (1-1.5 m)
Watering NeedsLow
Hardy Zone Range9 – 11
Flower ColorWhite to cream

Growing and Caring for Mexican Oregano Plants

If you’re interested in growing your own Mexican oregano plants, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, consider the climate and hardiness zone you live in. Mexican oregano thrives best in warm climates with well-drained soil. It can tolerate some drought conditions but benefits from regular watering.

Mexican oregano is a perennial herb that is hardy in zones 9 to 11. It is known for its resilience and ability to withstand hot and dry conditions. However, in cooler climates or areas with frost, Mexican oregano is typically grown as an annual plant, as it may not survive the colder temperatures.

When planting Mexican oregano, choose a sunny spot with good air circulation. The herb prefers full sun exposure but can tolerate partial shade if necessary. Ensure that you provide enough space for the plant to grow as it can reach up to five feet tall when fully matured.

To care for your Mexican oregano plants, be mindful of any signs of stress or yellow leaves indicating potential issues such as overwatering or nutrient deficiencies. Regularly prune the plant to encourage bushier growth and harvest the leaves as needed for culinary use. With proper care, your Mexican oregano plants will flourish and provide you with a constant supply of fresh herbs.

A Staple in Mexican Cuisine

Mexican oregano holds a special place in Mexican cuisine. It is an integral ingredient in many traditional dishes, adding its unique flavor and aroma to enhance the overall taste experience. From hearty chili con carne to vibrant salsas and complex mole sauces, Mexican oregano brings depth and authenticity to these beloved recipes.

Not limited to just Mexican cuisine, this versatile herb has also found its way into Tex-Mex and Latin American dishes. Its aromatic qualities make it an excellent choice for flavoring beans, stews, marinades, and even grilled meats.

Marjoram Oregano

Starr 070906-8861 Origanum majorana Image by Forest & Kim Starr – from Wikimedia (CC-BY-3.0)

Scientific name: Origanum majorana

Marjoram oregano (Origanum majorana) is a close relative of oregano. While both marjoram and oregano belong to the same family, Lamiaceae, marjoram oregano has its own distinct characteristics that set it apart from other varieties.

Marjoram Oregano Origin and Flavor Profile

Marjoram oregano is native to the Mediterranean region and is widely cultivated for its fragrant leaves. Unlike traditional oreganos which have a robust and slightly bitter taste, marjoram oregano offers a sweeter and more delicate flavor profile. Its aroma is often described as floral with hints of citrus, making it an excellent addition to various culinary creations.

Growing Tips and Techniques for Marjoram Oregano

If you’re eager to cultivate your own marjoram oregano, it’s important to create the ideal growing conditions. Marjoram oregano thrives in well-drained soil and requires full sun exposure, allowing it to flourish both indoors and outdoors, depending on your climate.

Understanding its hardiness is essential. Marjoram oregano is a perennial plant that can withstand harsh conditions in zones 9-11, making it a reliable choice for these regions. However, in cooler climates, it can be planted as an annual since it grows quickly.

Scientific NameOriganum majorana
Common NameMarjoram Oregano
Height12-24″ (30-60cm)
Watering NeedsLow to Moderate
Hardy Zone Range9 – 11
Flower ColorWhite to lavender

When it’s time to plant, either sow seeds or transplant young seedlings into pots or directly into the ground after the last frost date in your area. Remember to maintain the right level of moisture in the soil. It’s crucial to keep Marjoram oregano evenly moist without waterlogging it, as excessive water can result in root rot.

To promote bushier growth and prevent legginess, make sure to regularly prune your marjoram oregano. Trimming back the plant will encourage it to develop a fuller appearance. When it comes to harvesting, pluck the leaves at their maximum size, typically before the plant flowers. For optimal growth, cut the stems just above a leaf node, as this will stimulate new growth in the plant. By providing the ideal growing conditions, you’ll increase your chances of successfully cultivating marjoram oregano for your culinary endeavors.

Culinary Uses in European and Mediterranean Dishes

Marjoram oregano is a popular herb in European and Mediterranean cuisines, adding its unique flavor to a wide range of dishes. Here are some common culinary uses:

  • Poultry: Marjoram oregano pairs exceptionally well with chicken and turkey. Sprinkle it over roasted or grilled poultry for an aromatic touch.
  • Fish: Enhance the taste of fish dishes by incorporating marjoram oregano into marinades or seasoning blends. It complements both freshwater and saltwater varieties.
  • Vegetables: Whether you’re sautéing vegetables, making soups, or preparing roasted veggies, marjoram oregano adds depth and complexity to the flavors.
  • Herb Blends: Marjoram oregano is often included in herb blends like Herbes de Provence, which typically consist of dried herbs such as thyme, rosemary, savory, and lavender. This versatile herb contributes to the overall aroma and taste of these mixtures.

Marjoram oregano is a great addition to your herb garden. Its fragrant leaves and ability to enhance dishes make it a valuable addition to your cooking. Try different recipes and enjoy the delicious flavors this versatile herb brings to your meals.

Syrian Oregano


Origanum syriacum, March 2015 Image by Davidbena – from Wikimedia (CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Scientific name: Origanum syriacum

Syrian oregano (Origanum syriacum), also known as or Za’atar, is one of the types of oregano that originates from the Middle East region. This perennial plant has gained popularity not only for its unique flavor profile but also for its versatility in various culinary dishes.

Syrian Oregano Origin and Flavor Profile

Syrian oregano, as the name suggests, hails from Syria and other parts of the Middle East. It is characterized by its complex flavor profile, which combines earthy notes with a hint of citrusy tanginess. The combination of these flavors creates a truly distinctive taste that sets Syrian oregano apart from other varieties.

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Growing Syrian Oregano in Different Climates

One of the fascinating aspects of Syrian oregano is its adaptability to different climates and hardiness zones. This resilient herb can thrive in both warm and cool environments, making it suitable for cultivation in various regions around the world. Syrian oregano is a perennial herb that is hardy in zones 9-11, but it can be grown as an annual in cooler climates. Whether you live in a Mediterranean climate or a colder zone, you can cultivate Syrian oregano successfully with proper care and attention.

When growing Syrian oregano, it’s essential to provide it with well-draining soil and ample sunlight. This herb prefers full sun exposure but can tolerate partial shade if necessary. Regular watering is crucial to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.

Scientific NameOriganum syriacum
Common NameSyrian Oregano
Height12-30″ (30-76cm)
Watering NeedsModerate
Hardy Zone Range9 – 11
Flower ColorPink to purple

Syrian Oregano in Traditional Middle Eastern Spice Blends

Syrian oregano plays a vital role in traditional Middle Eastern cuisine as an essential ingredient in spice blends like Za’atar seasoning mix. This aromatic blend typically consists of dried Syrian oregano leaves combined with sesame seeds, sumac berries, salt, and sometimes other herbs such as thyme or marjoram.

Za’atar seasoning mix is incredibly versatile and adds depth to numerous dishes. Its robust flavor pairs well with grilled meats like chicken or lamb, enhancing their taste and aroma. It can be sprinkled over salads, used as a dip for bread, or even incorporated into roasted vegetables to elevate their flavors.

Syrian Oregano Culinary Uses

The distinct taste of Syrian oregano makes it a popular choice among chefs and home cooks alike. Its earthy undertones and citrusy tanginess bring a unique dimension to various culinary delights. Let’s explore some of the ways you can incorporate Syrian oregano into your cooking:

  • Grilled Meats: Sprinkle dried Syrian oregano leaves over your marinated meats before grilling them. The herb’s flavor will infuse into the meat, creating a mouthwatering experience.
  • Salads: Add a pinch of dried Syrian oregano to your salad dressing or directly toss it with the greens for an extra burst of flavor.
  • Bread Dips: Mix Za’atar seasoning mix with olive oil and serve it as a dip for freshly baked bread. The combination of flavors will leave you craving more.
  • Roasted Vegetables: Sprinkle Syrian oregano over roasted vegetables like potatoes, carrots, or zucchini to enhance their natural sweetness.

As you experiment with Syrian oregano, don’t be afraid to get creative and try new combinations. Its versatility allows you to explore different flavor profiles and create dishes that are truly unique.

Cuban Oregano

Cuban oregano

Plectranthus amboinicus 2 Image by Challiyan – from Wikimedia (CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Scientific name: Plectranthus amboinicus

Cuban oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus) is a type of oregano that offers a unique and distinct flavor profile. This herb originates from Cuba and has gained popularity in Caribbean and Latin American cuisines for its robust taste.

Cuban Oregano Distinct Flavor Profile

One of the defining features of Cuban oregano is its exceptional flavor. Unlike traditional Mediterranean oregano varieties, Cuban oregano offers strong notes of mint and thyme with delightful hints of citrusy undertones. This combination creates a refreshing and aromatic experience for your taste buds.

The origin of this herb in Cuba contributes to its distinct flavor profile. The tropical climate and rich soil conditions in Cuba enhance the intensity of flavors found in this variety of oregano. When used in cooking, it adds depth and complexity to dishes, elevating them to new heights.

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Ideal Growing Conditions for Cuban Oregano

Cuban oregano is a versatile herb that can be cultivated in a range of climates, allowing gardeners worldwide to enjoy its benefits. Understanding the ideal growing conditions for this herb is crucial for successful cultivation and abundant harvests.

Cuban oregano thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 10-11, where it can be grown as a perennial. However, it can also be planted as an annual or potted plant in colder regions, expanding its accessibility.

To promote optimal growth, provide your Cuban oregano with full sun or partial shade exposure. While it enjoys bright light, providing some protection during scorching summer days can be beneficial.

When planting Cuban oregano, ensure the soil is well-draining and contains good organic matter. Aim for a slightly acidic to neutral pH level ranging from 6.0 to 7.5, as this suits the herb well.

While regular watering is appreciated by Cuban oregano, it’s important not to overwater. Allowing the soil to partially dry between waterings helps prevent root rot and maintains the plant’s health.

You can propagate Cuban oregano through stem cuttings or by dividing mature plants. Both methods are relatively simple and yield successful results, ensuring a continuous supply of fresh herbs.

By adhering to these cultivation guidelines, you can successfully grow and enjoy a bountiful supply of fresh Cuban oregano, regardless of the climate you reside in.

Scientific NamePlectranthus amboinicus
Common Name(s)Cuban Oregano, Caribbean Oregano
Height12-18″ (30-45cm)
Watering NeedsModerate
Hardy Zone Range10 – 11
Flower ColorPink to lavender

Culinary Uses in Caribbean and Latin American Cooking

Cuban oregano’s robust flavor makes it a staple ingredient in Caribbean and Latin American cuisines. It adds depth and complexity to various dishes, making them truly memorable culinary experiences.

Seasoning Meats, Soups, and Stews: Cuban oregano is commonly used as a seasoning for meats such as pork, chicken, and beef. Its distinct flavor profile complements the richness of these proteins, enhancing their taste. It adds a delightful aroma when incorporated into soups and stews.

Grilled Dishes: The strong notes of mint and thyme found in Cuban oregano make it an excellent choice for grilled dishes. Whether you’re preparing grilled vegetables or seafood, adding this herb as a marinade or garnish will infuse your dish with an enticing flavor that will leave your guests wanting more.

Tropical Salads: When creating tropical salads with fruits like mangoes or pineapples, don’t forget to sprinkle some Cuban oregano on top. Its citrusy undertones bring out the sweetness of the fruits while providing an unexpected twist to the overall flavor profile.

Cuban oregano offers versatility in its culinary applications across different cuisines. From traditional Caribbean recipes to innovative fusion dishes, this herb brings a unique touch to every meal it graces.


Growing your own oregano not only allows you to experience the joys of cultivating herbs firsthand but also provides a steady supply of fresh, aromatic leaves for your culinary adventures. By following the specific growing conditions and care instructions for each variety, you can successfully cultivate these herbs in various climates and enjoy their unique flavors in your cooking.

From classic Mediterranean and Greek dishes to Italian and Mexican cuisines, oregano adds depth and complexity to a wide range of recipes. It is an essential ingredient in marinades, sauces, dressings, roasted vegetables, grilled meats, and more. Each of type of oregano brings its own flair to these culinary creations, elevating them to new heights of flavor and authenticity.

Whether you choose to cultivate these herbs in your own herb garden or source them from local markets, their distinct flavors and culinary uses are sure to enhance your dishes and bring a touch of nature’s goodness to your table. So let your taste buds savor the diverse flavors of oregano, and let your culinary creations reach new heights with the magic of this versatile herb.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Greek oregano the same as common oregano?

Greek oregano and common oregano are both commonly known by the same scientific name, Origanum vulgare (or Origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum). Greek oregano is usually what people mean when they say oregano or common oregano.

What is the difference between Mexican oregano and oregano?

Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens) is a different plant species than common oregano (Origanum vulgare). While both share a similar name, Mexican oregano possesses distinct aromatic properties and is known for its citrusy and slightly spicy flavors that are frequently utilized in Mexican cuisine.

Does oregano come back every year?

Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum) is a perennial herbs that is hardy in zones 5-10 and will regrow year to year. Other types of oregano will also come back every year as perennials when cultivated in their recommended hardiness zones.

What is the difference between Turkish oregano and Greek oregano?

Turkish oregano (Origanum onites) is a different species of the Origanum genus than Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare). They both have an earthy, peppery taste, but Greek oregano is more robust in nature while Turkish oregano is a bit more mild.

Are oregano and marjoram the same?

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) and marjoram (Origanum majorana) are closely related herbs from the same plant family. While they have similar flavors and are often used similarly in cooking, they are derived from different species of plants and have distinct characteristics. Marjoram is sweeter tasting than common oregano, which is a bit more bitter.

What can you plant with different types of oregano?

When companion planting with oregano, vegetables such as asparagus, beans, cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes are all good garden companions.

Last Updated on 28 April 2024 by Bob Lee

About Bob Lee

Bob Lee is a gardening and culinary arts enthusiast currently residing in Minnesota's northern climate. He shares his 25+ years of experience on HerbGardenCooking.com where he combines practical gardening know-how with inventive cooking techniques.