Growing Mexican Oregano Plants
Mexican oregano Plants are closely related to the vervain family. They do not belong to the mint family as most people speculate. The medical experts conducted various experiments on these plants to confirm their medical benefits. These plants are commonly used in shamanic practices called curandera in the Southwestern United States and Mexico.
The flavor of this plant is famous for its stronger savory component and aromatic citrus accent. In the United states, consumers mostly use this plant for dried oreganos. They also use this plant as a basic alternative for epazote leaves. However, epazote leaves have more strong flavors.
Naturally, these shrubs can grow about 5 feet in height and spread about the same. Living about five to ten years, these trees have several names. Some of them include red brush lippie, scented lippie and oregano Cimmaron.
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Typically, Mexican Oregano Plants are evergreen species. Almost throughout the year, these plants bloom fragrant flowers, that are mostly white or yellow in color.
In cold areas, these plants tend to shed their leaves and flowers in winter. Usually, this environment does not last more than a couple of months. After that, the foliage and flowers quickly grow back in the spring.
In warm areas, these plants bloom almost all round the year. If you live in warm areas, you can enjoy the fragrant flowers and other yields as you need. Changing climates seldom affect the blooms and leaves.
Propagation of Mexican Oregano Plants
Most widely, Mexican Oregano Plants are propagated in three methods. They are the seed propagation, cutting propagation and division propagation. To make it easy, you can just purchase a seedling from nursery and transplant it.
Buy Good Quality seeds. Plant these seeds in good quality seed starting mixture in peat pots or seed trays. Make sure to accommodate 3-5 seeds in each hole. Also, make sure to bury them at least 1/4 inch deep. Place these arrangements in a sunny area and water regularly. Mostly, the seed germination process completes in a month.
When you see 5 or 6 stable leaves, transplant the seedlings in your garden. Make sure to select a location that receives full sun light and has rich soil. If the soil is poor, amend it with organic matter before transplanting.
To prevent the dangers of frost, you can start this process indoors. Typically, the stems would be fresh and energetic in the mornings. Hence, cut the stems in the early mornings form a matured, healthy plant.
Make sure the stems are at least 8 – 9 inches long. Use sterilized, sharp garden shears to cut the stems. This is safe for both the plants and the humans.
Remove the leaves and other matter from the bottom (quarter) portion of the stem. Dip the stem’s end into powdered rooting hormone mixture. Then, plant the stem in a pot filled with the starting soil mix. By watering regularly, maintain the moisture of the soil.
Keep the arrangement in sheltered locations. Typically, the stems root deeper in about 4-6 weeks. After that, you can transplant them in the gardens.
If you have already pre-existing Mexican oregano plants, you can easily divide them. It is preferable to divide in early morning times, as the plants would be energetic and free of stress from the heat of the sun.
Remove the plant fully from the container. Using a clean knife or shovel, divide the plant from the root ball. After that, replant the divisions maintaining at least 12-inch distance between them.
As a general rule, you can divide the container grown Mexican oregano plants every 2-3 years once.
Caring Mexican Oregano Plants
Mexican oregano plant always prefers gloomy sunlight. It can also thrive under normal shade. For best results, it is advisable to grow this plant in well-draining soil with a pH value of about 7.0
Feed the plants with 3-2-3 (NPK) fertilizers every year. You can also use compost or other organic matters. Avoid over fertilizing as it can modify the natural characteristics of the plants.
In USDA Zones 10 or higher, prune down the Mexican oregano plants to about two feet in the fall. This helps the plants to regrow healthier with the fresh energy replenished in them.
After the plants become established, they only require occasional watering. These plants can also thrive well in droughts. However, they tend to drop the leaves in prolonged periods of droughts or frosty winters. In the spring, these plants usually regrow their lost foliage and flowers quickly.
Normally, the pests and diseases do not bother Mexican Oregano Plants. Still, it is a good practice to keep a watch!
If your garden plants are infected with common pests like mealybugs, leaf miners, Aphids Etc., treat them with neem oil or insecticidal soap solutions. These liquids are effective against most common plant pests. They also do not harm your plant or beneficial insects.
You can use them on edible plants also. But make sure the insecticidal soap solution does not contain any harmful chemicals.
If the soil condition is soggy or water logged, root rot disease readily infests most garden plants including the Mexican oregano plants. In this case, you have to dig out the entire plant and inspect the roots for the severity of the damage.
If the damage is minimal, just remove the infected root portions and replant the plants in a location that has well-draining soil. These plants can regrow quickly and healthily. Just feed them with organic matter or recommended fertilizers.
If the damage is severe, you have to dispose of the entire plant. Before planting again, work the soil in that area with sand or other loose particles to improve the drainage. You can also aerate the soil to improve the drainage.
Harvesting Mexican Oregano Plants
After the plants grow about two feet in height, you can start harvesting them as you need. You can directly pluck the leaves or cut the stems and strip off the leaves from them.
If you live in cold areas, simply pull out the bush before the initial frost. Then cut the branches separately. After that, simply hang the branches upside down from a support or a rope in a cool, dark and dry location. Plenty of air circulation is necessary for effective drying.
If you live in warm areas, just place the harvested leaves or stems (containing leaves) under full sun. You can also use dehydrators (low temperature settings) to dry them. This is easy and fast compared to manual methods.
When the leaves become completely dry, they will crumble (disintegrate into small pieces). At this stage, collect them and store them in zipper bags. You can also choose to store the entire dried stem instead of individual leaves in the zipper bags.
Finally, store the zipper bags in a cool dry and dark location, to retain the flavor for long periods.
Uses of Mexican Oregano Plants
Birds and butterflies love to feed on the sweet nectar of the blooms. Birds also feed on the seeds in the blooms.
This herb caters as a flavoring agent in cuisines. In the food/restaurant industry, this herb is popular for its citrusy flavor and strong spicy characteristics. In most of the Latin American dishes, the flavor of this herb pairs perfectly! There is a separate fan base for this type of dishes.
For domestic cooking, you can use these herbs in dried or fresh forms. Your guests will love its spicy, citrus flavor.
In Central America, the Mexican Oregano Plants are used as medical herbs for centuries. Traditional medical practitioners have been suggesting this herb to cure stress, bronchitis, stomachaches, asthma, and many other related diseases. It is also believed to relieve gastrointestinal distress and bloating.