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Oregano – The Pizza Herb

pizzaNo kitchen should be without Oregano, as no Italian meal is complete without its wonderful flavor.  It’s known botanically as Origanum vulgare, which is Greek for ‘joy of the mountains’ – because in Greece it can be found growing along the mountainsides.

Most people think of pizza when they think of Oregano because it adds a warm balsamic and aromatic flavor to many dishes – not just pizza but much of Mediterranean cuisine. Whenever possible, you will want to use fresh Oregano over dried because fresh has a superior flavor.

Fresh Oregano may be stored in the fridge wrapped in a slightly damp towel for several days. It may also be frozen, chopped, or dried and kept whole, placed in air tight containers.

Behnke’s carries a wide assortment of Oregano varieties but my favorite is ‘Greek Mountain Oregano.’  With its bold pungent flavor, it’s the perfect addition to my favorite tomato sauce.  But why not try some for yourself?


Here’s the assortment of Oregano that Behnke’s carries, all of which can be used in Italian dishes, rice, various sauces, breads, and of course everyone’s favorite – pizza.

Greek Mountain Oregano (also known as Wild Oregano) has a strong, spicy flavor.  It’s used in Italian dishes, especially pizza.  Prefers dry conditions.  Soil that’s too moist will cause root-rot.  In its preferred sunny location it grows to 10-12”.

Italian Oregano is a delicious culinary herb essential to Italian dishes.  It has a strong, spicy flavor and grows well in the garden or in containers.  It also likes sunny locations and grows to 12” in height and a 24” spread.

Oregano ‘Jim Best’ is a beautiful variegated oregano that’s wonderful as a ground cover or as a fragrant edging.   Tastes great in Italian dishes.  It likes a sunny location and grows to 6-12” tall.  Space them 6-8” apart.  Use in pasta dishes, breads, stuffing and of course – pizza.  It’s perennial in Zones 5-9 (here!).

Oregano ‘Hot and Spicy’, true to its name, is  especially pungent, so it’s a good choice for Mexican dishes.  Very fragrant, with white flowers that attract bees and butterflies.  Perennial in Zones 5-9 (here!).

Oregano ‘Golden’ is a robust golden creeper with white flowers.  Excellent flavor; great in tomato, rice, pasta, sauces, dressings and vinegar.  It’s beautiful flowing over a container or in garden beds.  It likes a sunny location.  Grows to 12” tall and spreads 8-12”.

Photo credits:  Oregano, Pizza.

by Marian Parsley, Behnkes’ Manager of Annuals

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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