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Mexican Oregano: A Colorful Native Herb

July 14, 2017 Back to Picks >

Let me introduce you to Mexican oregano a native Texas herb that is drought tolerant, blooms from late spring through fall, isnít an aggressive spreader, and finally ñfor extra bonus points ñ is edible. This hardy shrub is native to dry areas but tolerates humidity and can happily grow around Houston and the Gulf region.

In early spring, Mexican oregano (Poliomintha longiflora) begins sending up vertical shoots that grow to three feet in ideal conditions. By Memorial Day inch long tubular flowers begin to appear, starting out white but gradually changing from white to pink to lavender. With flowers maturing at different times, this small shrub becomes a kaleidoscope of gorgeous hues in your garden.

Plant this native herb in a sun to part shade location with good drainage. Water it weekly for the first growing season. After that Mexican oregano will be drought tolerant. In a xeriscape garden it will need water about once every ten days.

When you shop for Mexican oregano, look closely at the leaves. There is another plant, Lippia graveolens, that goes by the same common name. This other Mexican oregano has darker, rough-textured leaves that look much like verbena leaves. The Mexican oregano Iím describing has medium green oval leaves with smooth edges.

In the kitchen, Mexican oregano can be used in the same way you would use regular oregano (Origanum vulgare). The leaves add a spicy zip to home-made salsa or pico de gallo. Keep in mind, though, that Mexican oregano has a definitely hotter flavor. For every teaspoon of fresh garden oregano called for in a recipe, start with about a half teaspoon and work up from there. Try adding it to your next chicken marinade or spice rub mix.