Ornamental oregano sounds like a mistake. Anyone who has ever
grown Greek Oregano, or any other
culinary oregano, will tell you it is pretty plain Jane. But, there are
oreganos that are drop dead gorgeous. These include Dwarf Pink Saso
Dittany of Crete, Hopley's
Purple, Kent Beauty
Oregano, Marshall's Memory Oregano,
Rosenkuppel Oregano and
Showy Pink Oregano.
Some of these like Dwarf Pink, Hopley's
Purple, Rosenkuppel, Marshall's Memory
and Showy Pink have
flower heads similar to Greek Oregano
except instead of plain white they are
dunked in rich colors of pink and purple.
Others like Dittany of Crete, and Kent Beauty have, not only the tiny colorful flowers, but also
large colorful bracts that run from chartreuse to pink and are reminiscent
All of these oregano flowers are excellent for drying. They
bloom for a long time in summer and can be cut at will. The tiny individual
flowers are delicate, so be gentle when you cut and bunch. They will remain with
the bracts if treated tenderly. Cut enough flower stems to make a small bouquet
and arrange it before you bundle it so it is attractive. Twist tie it near the
flowers leaving the long stems below. It only takes a day or two of hanging
upside down to dry.
If the flowers are grouped very tightly so they support each
other, they can be stuck in a dry vase to dry. By leaving the stems long, arrangements can be made later and
stems trimmed to fit the need. Use sharp shears or the blooms will fall. Large
arrangements can be made in the field with other flowers like
Statice and Powis Castle Artemisa.
For more information on how to use fresh
flowers from your garden to create dried arrangements, visit our
Wreath Making Workshop online.
Dwarf Pink, Hopley's Purple,
Kent Beauty and Showy Pink are hardy to about Zone 5, while
Dittany of Crete is hardy from about zone 8. All of these oreganos die back to the ground in most areas over winter.
They emerge fresh each spring and usually flower in the summer. After
flowering, it is important to cut them back to the ground. Like
all Oreganos, these plants like full sun and good drainage. Good drainage is
especially important in areas with heavy winter rains. They all do well in containers.
Ornamental oreganos have no taste, although Dittany has been
used for medicinal purposes. It is odd that their beauty denies them flavor
while flavor denies culinary oreganos beauty.