Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Dittany of Crete
Origanum dictamnus

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Origanum (or-RI-ga-num) (Info)
Species: dictamnus (dik-TAM-nus) (Info)

Synonym:Amaracus dictamnus

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

10 members have or want this plant for trade.

Alpines and Rock Gardens
Tropicals and Tender Perennials

6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

6-9 in. (15-22 cm)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
Pale Pink

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
This plant is suitable for growing indoors
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings
From softwood cuttings
From hardwood heel cuttings
Allow cut surface to callous over before planting
From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

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to view:

By podster
Thumbnail #1 of Origanum dictamnus by podster

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #2 of Origanum dictamnus by Xenomorf

By Happenstance
Thumbnail #3 of Origanum dictamnus by Happenstance

By ladyannne
Thumbnail #4 of Origanum dictamnus by ladyannne

By lupinelover
Thumbnail #5 of Origanum dictamnus by lupinelover

By lupinelover
Thumbnail #6 of Origanum dictamnus by lupinelover

By crystalspin
Thumbnail #7 of Origanum dictamnus by crystalspin

There are a total of 12 photos.
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7 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral NicoleC On Mar 28, 2013, NicoleC from Madison, AL (Zone 7b) wrote:

I expected it to spread out like oregano's do, but if it does, it does so very slowly. I've had mine for a year outdoors in a sunny, well drained spot and while it was cute in the pot at the nursery, it only marginally increased in size over the summer and in winter/spring it's a little ratty.

Perhaps it need more arid climates to thrive.

Neutral vossner On Feb 10, 2013, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Rating neutral as new in my garden. It will be planted as trailer in a hanging basket and I will position it protected from the sun. Has lovely velvety foliage, I do not detect any fragrance.

Neutral podster On Nov 30, 2006, podster from Deep East Texas, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I dearly love the fragrance of the foliage and the beauty of the flower. This is a difficult plant at best with our heat and humidty. It is delightful. I will keep trying and if I can only grow it as an annual, I will!

Positive CatskillKarma On Jun 22, 2005, CatskillKarma from West Kill, NY wrote:

I have a pot with three of these that I have overwintered indoors for two winters now. It doesn't like being inside, and gets leggy, but a severe pruning in spring before going outdoors is all that's needed to get it going again. The first winter, I didn't take it indoors until after frost had caused dieback, but it did come back in low light on a sunny groundlevel window sill in my basement. The bracts are charming and the flowers are popular with my hummingbirds. It drapes nicely and smells good--like marjoram--when brushed. I keep it on the handrail of the outdoor stairs to my kitchen. Not ideal for culinary use because of the furriness of the leaves, but that fuzz is very appealing visually.

Positive PurplePansies On Jun 21, 2005, PurplePansies from Deal, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:

Don't know much (just planted) about this plant yet but it has the loveliest fuzzy grey/green foliage and a creeping habit. It has a strong aroma that smells basically exactly like oregano (greek and or italian).... Said to get pretty bract/flower (like hops) mine haven't bloomed yet. I'm hoping it is hardy in my zone. Some sources say 7 some say 8 ... Said to love well drained (dry gritty) soil.

Positive ladyannne On May 2, 2005, ladyannne from Merced, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Unusual and delicate delight for a hanging basket with afternoon sun. Still trying to propagate this one with both seeds and layering but no luck yet.

Positive marshtackie On Jun 10, 2004, marshtackie from Orlando, FL wrote:

I love it dearly; it reminds me of Crete. (Even in Crete, they say "But you know, you can only get really good dhiktamos in the Samaria Gorge / the White Mountains / &c." In other words, not in the lowlands.)

In Crete it is used as a medicinal tea and never as a food flavoring, no doubt because of the hairy leaves--but I've used it in spaghetti sauces.

It comes from a hot, dry climate and it doesn't like hot, wet climates (such as mine, Central Florida). I've managed to keep a plant growing in a pot for a year and a half at best. Keep it under an eave facing the sun but not exposed to the rain. In the village of Kritsa in eastern Crete, I saw a humongous plant blooming in a large pot and thriving. Whoever said they resented pots musta been wrong.

Positive CarolynnKoi On Sep 8, 2003, CarolynnKoi from Orland, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

I grew this plant at Paradise, California (U.S.) in the early 1990's and found it a most beautiful cascading subject that was winter hardy to zone 8, (I think.)

I have recently found plants available at a local nursery, but the foliage is smooth rather than tomentose like my original plants which I had to move away from. They did not appreciate being on level ground since they love to cascade.

Positive emmi On Jun 29, 2003, emmi wrote:

This plant is very old medicinal herb, a real panacea mentioned by Plinius and many others. It is endemic on Dicti Mountains on Crete, some believe dicti = dictamnus (tamnus or thamnos = small bush).

It belonged to European Farmacopea until the 1770s, when it was substituted by the other Dictamnus, the reason being this herb became extremly rare. Now it is cultivated on the island, it is considered as the most effective local remedy for almost everything (sore throat, cough, menstrual pains, aching stomach, hypertensive, diuretic, helps at child birth, cures wounds, etc.) It is sold almost in every local "supermarket" to be sipped as a herbal tea. And it is one of the herbs in Benedictine liquer.

Have been growing this on Crete, but it is not easy in pots. Beautiful plant with hairy grayish leaves and hanging rose flowers.

Positive lupinelover On Aug 26, 2002, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Extremely beautiful herb. Foliage is whorled, cobwebby-soft, very fragrant. Flowers are airy spikes of varied shades of pink that remain for months. They are easy to cut and dry for everlasting arrangements also. Plant can be overwintered indoors in cold climates, but it really isn't a houseplant.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Madison, Alabama
Phoenix, Arizona
Calistoga, California
Clayton, California
Clovis, California
Fairfield, California
Highgrove, California
Merced, California
Santa Ana, California
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Albuquerque, New Mexico
West Kill, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Salem, Oregon
Houston, Texas

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