In the correct conditions, oregano, a low-maintenance Mediterranean herb, can live for around ten years.
It’s crucial to mimic some of the Mediterranean growing conditions for oregano, including full light, well-draining soil (amended with sand or grit), and letting the soil dry out in between waterings.
A dying oregano is frequently the result of moist soil from over irrigation or poorly draining soil, which leads to root rot. For oregano to flourish, the soil must drain well and watered seldom. Oregano dies when its leaves turn brown, black, or yellow due to fungi that flourish in moist soil.
Oregano can also suffer if it is grown in the wrong kind of pot or container, from fertilizer that contains a lot of nitrogen, or from a lack of sunlight.
Read on to learn the best ways to bring the oregano’s original Mediterranean environment into your garden and bring your dying plants back to life.
Table of Contents
Oregano Turning Brown, Black or Yellow (Fungal Disease)
- Symptoms. The leaves of the oregano plant are turning brown, black, or yellow, and the plant is wilting or drooping.
- Causes. Due to excessive watering, poorly draining soils, and heavy rains, plants can get fungal diseases and root rot.
Native to the Mediterranean region of Europe, oregano thrives under conditions of direct sunlight, sandy soil, and infrequent rainfall.
Oregano has a unique adaptation that allows it to flourish in these arid settings with dry soil, and it typically struggles when there is too much moisture.
The oregano can become brown or black with a drooping or withering appearance due to overwatering, slow draining soils, heavy rains, and high humidity since wet conditions promote fungal diseases such root rot.
There are a number of fungi that can cause oregano (and other Mediterranean plants) to develop brown or black leaves, and they all like moist soils, which is the reverse of what oregano prefers.
How to Revive Oregano Turning Brown or Black
- Reduce watering and provide cover for the plant if the oregano is showing indications of stress from root rot and fungal disease (drooping and turning brown).
- Lift the oregano plant out of the ground slowly, protecting the roots by using a fork rather than a shovel. Examine the roots. Use a pair of pruners to cut off any roots that appear mushy, discolored, or decaying. After each cut, disinfect the pruners with alcohol to prevent the fungus from spreading from infected roots to healthy roots.
- Any branches with brown or black leaves should be cut off and burned or otherwise disposed of. They are a host for the fungus that can remain dormant in your garden compost, so don’t put them on a compost heap.
- Replant your oregano plant in a pot with fresh compost and fill the pot with around 30% sand to help with drainage so the roots may stay dry and heal.
After replanting the oregano in a container with fresh soil, don’t water it for at least two weeks and keep the pot out of heavy downpours.
It is much simpler to alter the soil to suit the oregano when growing in pots and containers than when using garden soil because of the favorable drainage characteristics.
You may help to mimic the sandy soil conditions of the Mediterranean, where oregano thrives in its native setting, by adding horticultural sand or grit.
Sand aids in enhancing soil drainage, allowing the soil to dry out fast in between waterings or heavy downpours, lowering the risk of root rot and fungus.
Since oregano naturally grows in open spaces with full sun, place it in a sunny area at all times. Increased sunlight makes it possible for the soil and any surrounding moisture to dry off, which reduces the amount of humidity.
To prevent an extremely humid microclimate, place the potted oregano in a location with sufficient airflow and leave some space between the pots.
The oregano should begin to recover if you follow these instructions in about 3 weeks. However, severely afflicted oregano with all the leaves turning a discolored color may be difficult to save. In this case, I advise burning the plant or throwing it away to prevent the fungus disease from spreading to other herbs in your garden.
Oregano Leaves Turning Yellow
Oregano can become yellow as a result of:
- soil that contains too much nitrogen as a result of fertilizer or high-nitrogen soil additions.
- Overwatering, poorly draining soil, or heavy rainfall can all result in fungal disease and soil moisture, which in turn can cause leaves to become yellow as a symptom of stress.
- Yellow oregano leaves can result from pot-bound roots.
Mediterranean herbs like oregano thrive in medium-nutrient soils with a lot of sand or gravel.
Having too much nitrogen in the soil can result in yellow leaves, a lot of foliage growth with weak drooping stems, a weaker perfume, and a different flavor in food if the soil is too rich in nutrients or due to fertilizer.
Because of excessive watering, oregano leaves can often turn yellow as a symptom of stress.
Oregano in pots and containers needs a good soak once a week, but the soil needs time to dry out in between applications of water.
Consistently wet soil can lead to fungal disease, which can cause leaves to turn yellow or even brown and black.
How to Revive Oregano with Yellow Leaves
Replicating the Mediterranean soil conditions that oregano has acclimated to thrive in is the greatest technique to rejuvenate plants with yellow leaves.
When planting your oregano, it’s crucial to add sand or grit to the potting mix or planting area to prevent fungal diseases brought on by overwatering and damp, slow-draining soil.
Sand and grit considerably enhance soil drainage and mimic the natural environments where oregano grows and flourishes.
It is best practice to prune back the growth to about 5 inches from the soil if it is yellow, drooping, and has a bad flavor from too much fertilizer.
More than other Mediterranean plants like lavender, oregano is hardy and can withstand a good pruning.
This encourages the oregano to sprout new, green growth, which should produce an improved flavor and scent. Yellow leaves should be thrown away because they have a bad flavor.
Watch this YouTube video for a wonderful visual tutorial to pruning oregano:
The oregano may be lacking nutrition because it is in a small pot, or possibly it has been in the same pot for a long time and the roots have used up all the nutrients.
The oregano should then be repotted in a larger pot with fresh compost.
To allow for enough soil and consequently nutrients for the oregano to grow roots and thrive, the optimal pot for oregano should be at least 12 inches broad.
Make sure the pot’s base has drainage holes. If the oregano has been growing in a small pot, trimming could help to encourage fresh green growth. Over the coming weeks, oregano leaves ought to start to heal.
Potted Oregano Dying
If your oregano is withering in a pot, it’s likely because the pot is too tiny or the base of the pot doesn’t have enough drainage holes to allow the excess water to escape, which leads to root rot and the oregano’s demise.
The best type of pot for growing oregano is:
- At least 12 inches broad, to allow room for root development and cold-weather protection.
- To replicate the relatively dry soil conditions that oregano prefers, a pot should have numerous drainage holes in the base.
Oregano is indigenous to the Mediterranean, which has moderate winters. Because oregano roots are susceptible to cold temperatures, a reasonably large pot is required because larger pots have greater soil capacity. This helps to insulate the roots of your oregano.
A healthy plant can establish its roots more easily in larger containers.
Since oregano is so susceptible to overwatering, it is crucial that the pot’s base has sufficient drainage. Use of trays or saucers underneath the pot should be avoided as this may obstruct water drainage and result in root rot.
To ensure proper drainage, you can elevate the pot off the ground by placing it on a stand or “feet” to prevent water from collecting behind the drainage holes and causing root rot.
Replant your oregano in a pot that is the right size, has adequate drainage, and is made of multipurpose compost that has been improved with sand to increase drainage.
Snip off the diseased parts of the plant to promote healthy growth if the oregano is exhibiting symptoms of root rot, such as brown or black leaves and dark brown, rotten roots (follow the instructions about root rot written above).
Oregano Not Growing or With Spindly Growth (Oregano Prefer Full Sun)
The oregano won’t have the energy or resources to grow properly if it is in partial shadow or dappled light, and the perfume from the leaves won’t be as potent or flavorful.
The only way to fix this is to transfer your oregano to a more sunny spot with at least six hours of direct sunlight (or just move it if it is in a pot or container).
Even during their winter hibernation, oregano benefits from a site that is open and sunny.
The oregano should begin to recover and the aroma should become more noticeable if you move it to a location with full sun, sufficient airflow, and well-draining soil (amended with sand or grit).
- Oregano can die for several causes, including lack of sunlight, excessive nitrogen in the soil, overwatering or delayed drainage of the soil, or because the pot or container is too small for oregano growth.
- Replicating the growing conditions of the Mediterranean with full sun, sandy soils that drain well, and only watering pots once a week during the spring and summer can help to rejuvenate oregano and prevent fungal disease.
- A fungal infection or root rot is most likely present in oregano with black or brown leaves. Replant the oregano in a pot with fresh soil that has been improved with sand or grit to enhance the drainage and place it in full sun after cutting off the affected growth with sterile pruners (wash the blades clean after each cut to prevent fungus spreading).
- To guard against the cold, avoid the root becoming pot-bound, and ensure there are drainage holes in the pot’s base for extra water to drain, plant oregano in large pots.