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Beginner Gardening Questions: Oregano starting to smell like mint

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kls_01
Champaign, IL
(Zone 5b)

April 1, 2012
9:02 AM

Post #9065400

I have a little herb garden and I have oregano and mint in it. They are planted somewhat close together. I have had both herbs for at least 3-5 years. This year I noticed my oregano no longer smells like oregano, but more like mint. I'm certain it is the oregano plant, and not the mint I'm looking at. Is it common for older oregano plants to start to smell like mint(they're in the same family, I think) or is it possible that my mint and oregano have cross pollinated? Should I get new oregano plants? Thanks in advance!

ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

April 1, 2012
9:47 AM

Post #9065470

Oregano wouldn't change to smell like mint over time, and although mint & oregano are in the same family they're in different genera so they can't cross with each other (and even if they could, this would only affect the babies, not the original plants...and it sounds like it's your original plant that you think has changed?) Since you've got both plants growing in close proximity, is it possible when you smell your oregano that you're also smelling a bit of the mint? Or that the leaves have rubbed together a bit so some mint oils got on the oregano leaves?

Mint is a more vigorous grower, so my other question is whether it's possible that over time the mint has spread & choked out the oregano and where you used to have an oregano plant you now have a mint plant. If you could post some pictures someone could tell you whether you do indeed still have oregano or not.

If there's a chance that these are new plants that have come up rather than your originals, it's also possible that if your oregano was a hybrid cultivar that it's reseeded and produced babies that are a little different from the parent plant and could have a little different smell. This would have nothing to do with being grown near mint though, could have happened anywhere.
kls_01
Champaign, IL
(Zone 5b)

April 1, 2012
1:48 PM

Post #9065719

Yes, these are the original plants that don't seem to smell like oregano any more. And they don't necessarily smell exactly like mint, but have a mint-like smell and they don't seem to smell like oregano. I know what mint looks like very well, and I know that this is not a mint plant I'm mistaking for oregano. I don't think the oregano has reseeded, I believe they're the original plants. I grew the oregano from seed, and the first year they smelled strongly like oregano. Now the smell is weak, and has a mint smell to it. I didn't think growing it near mint would have an impact, but who knows, lol. I did search for it on the internet and found that someone else asked the same question on a different type of site. Do oregano plants need to be replace after so many years because their flavor/smell weakens as they age?
tomnh
Pelham, NH
(Zone 6a)

April 2, 2012
6:32 AM

Post #9066520

If the plants touch, might the oils transfer?
kls_01
Champaign, IL
(Zone 5b)

April 2, 2012
6:57 AM

Post #9066560

They don't touch...I did a test yesterday and the mint smells stronger and "greener" and the oregano has a weak mint smell and not quite the same as the mint, but doesn't smell like the oregano I remember.
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

April 2, 2012
7:13 AM

Post #9066594

Do you trim the oregano regularly? Newer leaves might have more of the oils so if you've been letting the plant grow instead of snipping off bits and using them regularly then the older leaves might smell a little weaker than they used to. This is just a guess, no personal experience to back it up.
kls_01
Champaign, IL
(Zone 5b)

April 2, 2012
8:30 AM

Post #9066717

No, I have let my herb garden go in the past few years, I've been too busy to maintain it. This year I have the time to straighten it up. That's why I was wondering if maybe older plants might get the mint smell. But it really doesn't smell like oregano any more, just weak mint which has me wondering.
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

April 2, 2012
11:35 AM

Post #9066958

I would try trimming it to stimulate some new growth and see if the newer leaves go back to the smell you were expecting.
nurseharpy
Bellingham, WA

April 27, 2013
1:24 PM

Post #9499154

I've had oregano in my herb garden for several years, and 2 years ago I planted some mint in a stainless steel colander, then planted it at ground level. It has so far stayed put but I just went to cut some for the first time this year and it's smelling more herb-like and the leaves have become rounded...like oregano!
Go figure.
SteveOh
Cherry Grove, OH
(Zone 6b)

May 11, 2013
4:23 PM

Post #9517203

While not everyone seems to agree, we find that our older oregano plants lose much of their flavor and aroma, so we replace ours every few years.
I've not have them go "minty" but they are certainly much less potent as the plants age.


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