August 2019 Plant Profile: Ornamental Oregano

pale green bracts with tiny pink flowers
Oregano ‘Kent Beauty’

Culinary oregano isn’t the only member of this genus worth growing. Consider summer flowering Origanum laevigatum ‘Hopleys’ & Origanum  ‘Kent Beauty.’ These two hardy herbaceous perennials are “must haves” in our Pacific Northwest gardens. Both have spicy aromatic scents similar to the culinary herbs oregano or marjoram that can be used in cooking if desired. Their flowers can be cut for arrangements or dried and used in potpourri. Like other plants in the mint family, oregano is a favorite of bees.

Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’ has pendulous flowers with rosy bracts resembling hops. It performs great in containers, draped over walls or grown in rockeries. It has lush silvery foliage that remains attractive all summer. Origanum laevigatum ‘Hopleys’ is grown for its attractive gray-green foliage and its profuse summer bloom of purplish-pink flowers.

Both of these ornamental oreganos are pest-free and care-free if planted in well-drained soil and partial to full sun. They are drought tolerant and  require no supplemental summer water in the Pacific Northwest.

tiny magenta flowers with bumble bee
Origanum laevigatum ‘Hopleys’

Scientific Name:  Origanum laevigatum ‘Hopleys’ & Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’

Family: Lamiaceae

Location:  Origanum ‘Hopleys’ (or syn. ‘Hopley’s Purple’) can be found in the Fragrance Garden at the Center for Urban Horticulture. Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’ is currently not in our collections, but because it is highly ornamental, I will submit a plant procurement request.

Origin:   Origanum  ‘Hopleys’ was a Hopleys Nursery, UK introduction.    Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’, also introduced from the UK, is a hybrid  between parents of Origanum rotundifolium and Origanum scabrum. 

Height and Spread:  Origanum ‘Hopleys’ grows up to 30 inches high and wide.  Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’ has a prostrate habit to 10 inches high and 12 inches wide.

Bloom Time:  Origanum ‘Hopleys’ blooms July to August and Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’ blooms all summer.

stem of pink flowers
Oregano ‘Kent Beauty’