Grit Blogs > One Foot in the City

Heed the Warning, Oregeno IS Invasive

Patio gardenJoan Pritchard HeadshotYears ago I moved into my city patio home with joy, as I knew the heavy yard work was contracted by the homeowners’ association and my only obligation was to tend the patio flower beds. I love to garden, so I had the patio beds made extra-large, and there was an additional large bed on the approach to the house.

Initially, I built the bones to the front bed with a twisted Japanese pine surrounded by hostas, but I was working with a large area with gradated sun. I have known for some time that most people can’t identify plants, so it was safe to mix some vegetables and herbs into the setting.

I liked the idea of planting Bible plants – that is, plants that would have been used for food or medicine during the times of Christ. Therefore, I included some eggplant, chives, garlic, and various herbs used at the time. Rue, lavender, rosemary and oregano were easy to find and suited to the area.

At the Herb Day farmer’s market I found what I needed. I brought the plants home and nursed them along for a summer. I actually use what I plant, so I didn’t notice that the oregano was creeping into a larger area – actually, the area needed some encroachment. And so we happily co-existed until this spring when I realized that the oregano had overextended its welcome. As I confronted it in battle stance I remembered the gentle warning that “oregano has a tendency to be invasive.” You think? A two-inch whiffy plant now controlled some six square feet of my garden plot.

Well, six hours of back-breaking on-the-knees work has the city-based oregano under control. At the farm, I have my oregano corralled within an enclosed bed and I justify a rather large bed for it to provide forage for pollinating insects. At the city house I need a different balance.

If you are considering this herb, I would suggest you put it into a contained area. It may look like a frail plant, but I can assure you, there is more strength there than you might expect. It is better to begin with a smaller plot than be forced to dig it out later. My aching muscles attest to it.