Oregano Growing and Cultivation, Part 3 Pests

Pests and Blights

A wide range of insects cause damage to oregano, destroying the leaves: plant lice, woodworm, leaf-cutting worms and citrus red mites (Panonychus citri).

Plant lice

These species drink the vital fluids (ie. the sap) of the plant, as well as spreading disease. They breed rapidly, their onset generally occurring in winter months (May-July in the Southern Hemisphere). The pest is controlled using tobacco-based insecticides. Ash and other home-made substances work very well.

Citrus Red Mites

This pest appears in times of drought, when the oregano plant’s leaves grow tender. The plant becomes covered in a very fine thread, within which the mites (or tiny spiders) can be found. They restrict the plant’s ability to photosynthesise. As a result the leaves turn yellow and drop off and stalks dry out. Large numbers of plants will die if this is not controlled.

If the crop is not seriously affected, frequent watering is advisable. If the affliction is severe, use insecticide (such as C-Omite Acarin, Omite) in the dosage suggested on the label. Only do this having watered first. In order to conserve quality oregano, do not apply insecticide less than thirty days before harvesting.

Food Uses

Oregano is well known as the “pizza herb”, and is widely used in Mexican and Italian cookery. Both fresh and dried material can be used. The dried herb is also used in many other processed foods such as alcoholic beverages, meat and meat products, condiments and relishes, snack foods and milk products.

Origanum oil is used as a food flavor and also as a fragrance component in soaps, detergents and perfumes. The major source of the oil is from T. capitatus and Origanum species rich in carvacrol, a phenolic constituent of the oil. Carvacrol has antifungal and anthelmintic activities, although weaker than those of thymol, a chemically-similar phenol found in thyme.

Medicinal Uses

Oregano is usually thought of as a culinary herb, but it has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Try a Tea made with Oregano for indigestion, bloating, flatulence, coughs, urinary problems, bronchial problems, headaches, swollen glands, and to promote menstruation. It has also been used in the past to relieve fevers, diarrhea, vomiting, and jaundice. Unsweetened tea can be used as a gargle or mouthwash.

Alternatively, the leaves can be dried, pulverized, and made into capsule form for when it is inconvenient to make a tea. Please see the link below for details. At this point in time, there have not been enough studies done to refute or to support any of the above claims, but Oregano is a safe herb for testing at home, so feel free to experiment.

Externally, Oregano leaves can be pounded into a paste (add small amounts of hot water or tea to reach the desired consistency – oatmeal may also be added for consistency purposes). This paste can then be used for pain from rheumatism, swelling, itching, aching muscles, and sores. For tired joints and muscles, put a handful of Oregano leaves in a coffee filter, mesh bag, or cheesecloth bag and run steaming bath water over it. Allow it to steep in the tub with you as you relax in the warm, fragrant water.

Recent uses and preparations:

  • The juice of the leaves for dyspepsia, asthma, chronic coughs, bronchits, colic, flatulence, rheumatism. The dose is one tablespoonful of the fresh juice every hour for adults and one teaspoonful every two hours, four times daily, for children. As an infusion, 50 to 60 grams to a pint of boiling water, and drink the tea, 4 to 5 glasses a day. For chilldren, 1/2 cup 4 times daily.
  • For otalgia (ear aches), pour the fresh, pure juice into the ear for 10 minutes.
  • For carbuncles, boils, sprains, felons, painful swellings: Apply the poultice of leaves to the affected area, four times daily.
  • For sore throats, a decoction of two tablespoonfuls of dried leaves to a pint of boiling water, taken one hour before or after meals.
  • Decoction of leaves is given after childbirth.
  • Respiratory ailments like cough, asthma and bronchitis: Squeeze juice of the leaves. Take one teaspoon every hour for adults. For children above 2 years old, 3 to 4 teaspoons a day
  • Lastly, an Oil can be made with Oregano leaves to use for toothache pain. Put a few drops on the affected tooth for relief.

Commercial Uses

Their essential oils are used in perfumery, being added to scent soaps and lotions. The flowers of both plants dry well and are a major constituent of potpourris and decorative arrangements.

They are used in herbal sleep pillows and marjoram, in particular makes a pleasantly fragrant bath herb.

They also make effective home insect repellents and can used to disinfect beehives. They can also be useful as a household cleaning solution added to ammonia, vinegar, or just water.

For plant and plant seedlings, go to Manila Seedling Bank along EDSA cor. Quezon Ave.

sources: practicalaction.org, oreganofromitaly.com,gardensablaze.com, theherbspiral.com, stuartxchange.org

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