Oregano will survive winter if it is pruned, mulched and if it can avoid heavy frosts. Oregano will slow its growth or go dormant over winter. When the weather starts to warm up in spring it will grow rapidly, adding up to 5 inches of growth in 4 weeks.
Oregano is a Mediterranean herb that has woody stems and can survive cold temperatures. Its roots will be protected under the soil and new stems will grow in spring.
My oregano plant was completely dormant over winter. I pruned my oregano back to in early fall and in spring it rapidly grew new stems.
This article will explore how to care for oregano over winter so it will sprout back in spring.
5 Ways to help oregano survive winter
Oregano can grow all year long if you protect it during cold winters. Once the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, they will benefit from some winter care.
1. Prune back stems in early fall
It is important to prune your oregano before the cold weather arrives. Pruning any old stems back in early fall is a good way to freshen up the plant before the cold weather arrives.
Avoid pruning after mid fall so that the plant does not add excess new growth. The new growth will be more sensitive to frosts and will not tolerate the cold winters.
2. Stop adding fertilizer
Stop fertilizing oregano in Fall to avoid burning the roots When the temperature cools in winter, oregano will become dormant and slow its growth. The plant therefore won’t need as many nutrients.
I like to add a handful of pelleted chicken manure at the start of fall to feed the plant and then I won’t fertilize again until spring.
3. Add compost and mulch
I like to top dress my Mediterranean herbs like oregano in fall to get them ready for winter. Surround the oregano plant with 1-2 inches of compost and then cover this with bark mulch. I like use a 2-3 inch layer of bark mulch to protect the oregano roots and the soil.
4. Protect it from harsh frosts
If you get very heavy frosts in winter it is best to cover your oregano. You can layer straw on top of the plant the night before a heavy frost. Wait for the frost to pass and then remove it.
5. Water oregano when spring arrives
Slow down winter watering for oregano to avoid fungal growth on the leaves and root rot. When spring arrives you can deep water the plants to give them that extra boost to promote new growth.
Allow oregano plants to dry out between winter waterings. If you are getting regular rain, you may not need to water your oregano plant yourself at all.
I usually water my oregano plants once per week in winter to top it up between rain.
Check out this great video about how to start oregano indoors.
Can oregano be left outside in winter?
Oregano can be left outside in winter in most areas. If you get heavy frosts in winter or snow, then you will need to protect the plants with a layer of mulch. Cover the plant with straw mulch during heavy frost to help to protect it.
If you want to continue to harvest oregano over winter, it can be a great idea to bring it inside for a short period of time. Oregano can survive for 4-6 weeks indoors. Place it near a bright window and harvest the leaves as you need them.
When the weather starts to warm up in spring you can bring them back outdoors.
Does oregano come back every year?
Oregano is a perennial herb so can continue to grow all year round. In cold areas it will need protection from harsh winter frosts and snow.
If you plan on leaving your oregano outdoors in winter help it to survive by surrounding it with compost, straw or bark mulch and reduce watering. Avoid adding fertilizer after mid fall and prune the plant at the start of fall to help it to survive winter.
Oregano is a great Mediterranean herb that can survive frosts and winter if you prepare it first. Healthy plants will be cold hardy but will still slow their growth or become dormant over winter. Leave them in the ground and in spring they will grow new stems.
For more on growing oregano check out this article: When to divide oregano | Simple tips to divide herbs successfully