Oregano (Origanum vulgare), U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8, is a zesty perennial herb that belongs in every kitchen garden. The small leaves are used dried or fresh for tossing into hearty sauces, marinades, pizzas, and dressings. Frequent harvesting naturally prunes oregano plants into a tidy, bushy form. Without that pruning, oregano will produce clusters of tiny white, pink, or purplish flowers at the end of each stem. Those oregano flowers are also useful in cooking, in crafts, and to the bees and butterflies that will flock to your garden.
Growing Oregano Flowers
If you don't prune your oregano plants, the stems will grow taller and produce blooms in the late spring or summer. Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare hirtum) has white flowers and the strongest flavor for cooking, but there are other varieties that bloom in a range of colors. Oregano can be grown indoors on a bright windowsill, but blooms best outdoors in full sun. Oregano plants can reach up to 2 feet in height or trail along the ground. Eventually the plants get quite leggy, but a good trim will help rejuvenate your oregano. And the flowers you trim off have plenty of uses in cooking and crafts.
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If you leave the flowers, they will attract bees and butterflies until the plant begins to seed. This won't harm your plant, but there isn't much incentive to save the seeds. Oregano typically does not produce true seed, meaning the seed will not grow into an identical plant. The resulting plant can be much less flavorful than its parent, so you might as well harvest the flowers after the bees have had their chance.
Oregano Flowers in Cooking
Oregano flowers are edible but have a more delicate taste than the boldly flavored leaves. Freshly picked oregano flowers can be used as a garnish on pizzas, pastas, and salads. The flowers can also add an artistic touch to drinks, desserts, cheese spreads, and more.
Oregano flowers can be dried along with the leaves to use in teas. Traditional uses for oregano tea include treatments for colds, upset stomach, headaches, and more. Besides being high in antioxidants, oregano has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. For those reasons, oregano also has many uses in essential oils.
Oregano Flowers for Crafts
Fresh-picked blooming oregano makes a great filler for a farmhouse-style bouquet, but the flowers can also be dried for use in craft projects. Tie stems into small bunches and hang them upside down in a well-ventilated area until thoroughly dried. The flowers can then be added to homemade potpourri or displayed in a flower wreath or a vase. Your dried flower display can be sprayed with a dried flower preservative if you would like it to last longer.
The flowers can also be pressed in a book for craft projects. Dried flowers can be framed or used in sun catchers, bookmarks, jewelry, and more. Whether dried or fresh, oregano flowers will add a sweet touch to your cooking and your home.