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


Alpines and Rock Gardens




Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage




Foliage Color:



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)

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers



Bloom Color:

Pale Pink



Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

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


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

Madison, Alabama

Phoenix, Arizona

Tempe, 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

South Jordan, Utah

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 ... read more


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.