in Tucson, Phoenix,
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Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix, and the Desert Southwest

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Growing Mexican Oregano: Lippia graveolens

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Form: Shrub.
Lifespan: Approximately 20 years.
Leaf retention: Drought- and cold-deciduous.
Growth rate: Moderate.
Mature Size: 3-6' high and 3-6' wide.
Flowers: Tiny, white, sometimes with a yellow throat, in rounded, flattened sparse clusters at the end of branch tips, fragrant.
Bloom: Spring through fall.
Fruit: Seed.
Leaves: Green, rough textured, serrated margins, edible with a strong lemon-oregano flavor. Fragrant when crushed. New leaves are light green.
Stems: No thorns.
Roots: Non-invasive.
Wildlife: Attracts pollinating insects. Its flavor usually discourages browsing mammals.
Toxic / Danger: No.
Origin: New Mexico, Texas, Mexico through Nicaragua.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 10-11. Severely damaged at 29°F. May be root hardy to 20°F (USDA hardiness zone 9a).
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes, but loses leaves.
Sun: Full sun.
Water after becoming established: Monthly to weekly, depending on temperature and appearance.
Soil: Well drained, low to moderate organic content, pH 6.1-7.8 (slightly acidic to slightly alkaline).
Mulch: Not necessary.
Planting: Put in ground after danger of frost is over. Can be grown in pots.
Prune: Trimming stem ends may cause fuller growth. Prune to shape after flowering.
Litter: Low except dropped leaves in cold and drought conditions.
Propagation: Seed, cuttings.
Uses: Ornamental, culinary. The leaves are used in cooking to add flavor and to make a medicinal tea.

Before the first frost of fall or winter, cut the plant at the ground and hang it inside, upside down, to dry the leaves for use. The leaves will crumble easily when dried and are used as seasoning for their lemon-oregano flavor. Many people prefer to use Mexican Oregano in place of standard Oregano (Origanum vulgare). Another plant, an ornamental named Poliomintha maderensis: Lavender Spice, is also called Mexican Oregano.

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copyright ©

By Dick Culbert from Gibsons, B.C., Canada - Lippia graveolens, known as Mexican Oregano, CC BY 2.0, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid-34450044