Home & Garden

New Front Yard: Purple oregano flavors butterfly garden

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum “New Front Yard” series, 41 drought-tolerant and beautiful plants well adapted to our region.

Hopley’s Purple oregano

Origanum “Hopley’s Purple”

Size: Under 2 feet.

Bloom season: Summer and fall.

Pruning needs: Little or none; prune in winter to keep compact.

Exposure: Full sun.

Water needs: Once established, water deeply once a week.

Snapshot: Who knew oregano can come in purple? Native to Turkey, this pretty herb creeps along the ground, forming a dense mat. In mid-summer, it sprouts erect and wiry stems, loaded with purple-pink flowers. It’s those blooms that make this oregano special. The flowers are excellent for both fresh and dried arrangements. They’re also a butterfly magnet and attractive to other beneficial insects, too. Drought tolerant, this oregano thrives on neglect and prefers poor soil – as long as it has good drainage. It’s also deer resistant. See specimens in the arboretum’s Mediterranean collection on the UC Davis campus.

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Debbie Arrington

More online

See photo galleries of the arboretum’s Community Favorites and Arboretum All-Stars at sacbee.com/home_garden.