Your oregano plant is dying because there is an environmental factor that is causing it stress.
Oregano is an herb native to the Mediterranean, which has a very specific climate that may be difficult to replicate. If the conditions where you live are too different from the plant’s ideal conditions, this could lead to it not thriving and having problems growing.
The most common reasons for an oregano plant to die are insufficient sunlight, incorrect pot size, high-nitrogen fertilizer, overwatering and disease.
To save your dying oregano, you need to be able to correctly identify the cause of the plant’s declining health so that treatment is fast and specific.
In this article, we will discuss the signs to look for when you suspect your oregano is dying, what has caused them, and how to remedy them.
What are the signs of a dying oregano plant?
The plant’s growth is stunted
The oregano plant will display stunted growth if it is not getting the amount of sunlight it needs. In the Mediterranean, oregano is used to growing under full sun.
If you place your oregano in a shady spot, or even partial shade, the plant will not have enough energy to grow normally. This will also affect the flavor on the herb’s leaves, which will not be as strong or aromatic.
Aside from stunted growth, the oregano can also become etiolated. Etiolation is when the plant starts to become spindly because it is trying to grow as fast as possible in the direction of the nearest light source. This is an act of desperation by the plant, in order to get sunlight by any means necessary. This causes it to become frail and makes it grow asymmetrically.
You can remedy this situation by moving the plant to a different spot where it can get at least six hours of sun a day. This is especially important during the winter, when the plant is dormant but still in need of sunlight.
If you plant the oregano in a pot with well-draining soil and place it in an area with good air circulation and plenty of sun, it will be able to recover well.
The plant turns brown or black
Overwatering, whether due to poorly-draining soil, rainfall or fungal disease, can result in root rot which causes the oregano’s leaves to wilt and droop, and to turn yellow, brown or black.
Oregano grows in dry, sandy soil in its natural habitat, and also does not get much rainfall in the Mediterranean. If the plant is grown in a place where the soil is constantly wet or gets a lot of rain, the plant will definitely suffer from getting too much moisture.
A combination of high humidity, poorly-draining soil and overwatering all contribute to the plant’s roots drowning in waterlogged soil and dying. The dead roots are then susceptible to fungal and bacterial pathogens which cause root rot.
The rot will make its way up the plant’s stem and leaves and, before you know it, the entire plant will have rotted and become brown or black. If the rot has already reached the stem or leaves, it will be close to impossible to save the plant and you are better off starting over with a new plant. This is why it is so important to spot the early signs of root rot.
Save your oregano plant by scaling back your watering and allowing the soil to dry out completely. This includes moving the plant to an area where it will not get drenched by rain.
Remove the plant from the pot and shake off as much soil as you can without damaging the roots. Inspect the roots and if any are brown or black, cut them off using a clean pair of scissors. Make sure you wipe the scissors with a disinfectant after each snip so that the disease does not spread to the healthy roots.
If there are any yellow or brown leaves, prune them off and discard them properly. If you can burn them, even better. Never place the cuttings in your compost, especially if you use the compost to fertilize other plants. The fungus could lie dormant in the compost and awaken when placed in the soil of new plants.
Let the plant air-dry on a tray lined with a dry paper towel for a couple of hours. When it is dry, you can replant it in a new pot with drainage holes at the bottom, using fresh, well-draining soil. You can create your own version of Mediterranean soil by adding sand or grit to the gardening soil.
Do not water the plant for the next two weeks after repotting, and make sure you keep it sheltered from rainfall. The moisture in the new soil should be enough while you give the roots time to recover from the trauma of being uprooted.
Place the plant in a sunny location that is not too humid, that will allow the foliage to dry out. Make sure there is good air circulation by keeping the potted plants away from each other to discourage a humid microclimate.
If you are successful at saving your oregano plant, it should be fully recovered after three weeks.
The leaves turn yellow
The leaves on your oregano will turn yellow if the nitrogen content of the soil is too high, the soil is constantly damp, or the pot is too small. The plant will become leggy and the aroma and flavor of the herb will be greatly affected.
Oregano plants prefer soil that is not too rich in nutrients. If the soil is enriched with too much organic material or fertilizer, the leaves will turn yellow and become weak and droopy.
Overwatering can also cause the oregano’s leaves to turn yellow. You only really need to water the plant once a week at most, and leave it to dry out between watering.
You can remedy yellowing leaves on your oregano plant by replicating the living conditions of the Mediterranean as closely as possible.
As mentioned above, avoid overwatering the plant by using well-draining soil mixed with sand and grit. The added sand and grit will improve the soil’s drainage, which will help the plant thrive and grow.
If the yellowing is due to excess fertilizer which has also affected the aroma and taste of the herb, it is best to simply cut back the plant’s growth to about five inches from the soil. You do not need to worry too much about the plant, because this is a very resilient plant and can recover well from being drastically cut back. This practice will help stimulate the plant to produce more green growth that has better flavor.
If the plant’s pot is too small, this could make the plant nutrient-deficient, because the limited volume of soil will quickly become depleted. Repot the oregano in a larger pot with compost. Ideally, the pot should be 12 inches wide to have enough soil to contain the required nutrients.
Also make sure the pot has drainage holes at the bottom, and prune any yellow leaves to encourage new growth.
Your oregano plant is dying because there is an environmental factor that is causing it stress. To revive the plant effectively, you must correctly identify the cause of this stress. The most common causes of a dying oregano plant are insufficient sunlight, incorrect pot size, high-nitrogen fertilizer, overwatering and disease.
Oregano plants are native to the sandy and dry regions of the Mediterranean. They are quite hardy and very easy to grow. As long as you do not overwater, overfeed, or deprive it of sunlight, your oregano plant can live up to ten years.
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