Marjoram, also called sweet marjoram and knotted marjoram, is a tender perennial grown as an annual. Sow marjoram in the garden after the last frost in spring. To get a head start on the season, sow marjoram as early as 4 weeks before the average last frost date in spring for transplanting out after the last frost. Marjoram also can be grown from root divisions.
Description. Marjoram is an upright branching perennial that grows 10 to 20 inches tall. It has small, fuzzy, opposite, gray leaves on reddish stems. Unopened flower clusters in late summer resemble knots giving it the common name knotted marjoram. Flowers open lavender, pink, and white.
Marjoram is sometimes confused with oregano. Marjoram is a subspecies of oregano. The leaves of both plants are used in cooking. Marjoram is sweet and light flavored. Oregano is robust and spicy flavored. Marjoram leaves are oval and gray-green; oregano leaves are oval and dark green. Oregano is a taller and broader plant than marjoram.
Yield. Grow one marjoram plant per household.
Site. Plant marjoram in full sun; it will tolerate light shade. Grow marjoram in loose, well-drained soil. Marjoram prefers a soil pH of 6.7 to 7.0. Marjoram can thrives in poor soil that is well drained.
Planting time. Sow marjoram seeds or transplants on the average date of last frost in spring. To get a head start on the season, sow marjoram as early as 4 weeks before the average last frost date in for transplanting out after the last frost. Marjoram is slow to germinate so sowing indoors at 70°F is optimal. Marjoram also can be grown from root divisions taken in fall, over-wintered indoors, and set out in spring.
Planting and spacing. Sow marjoram seed ¼ inch deep; thin successful seedlings or set transplants to 6 inches apart. Space rows 18 to 24 inches apart.
Water and feeding. Give marjoram regular even water until it is established. Once established water marjoram sparingly allowing the soil to dry between waterings. Moist soil will cause marjoram to be less flavorful. Foliar feed marjoram by spraying with compost tea or liquid seaweed extract 2 to 3 times during the growing season.
Companion plants. Marjoram grows well with all vegetables and herbs.
Care. Keep marjoram pinched back to induce bushy growth and enhance flavor. Mulch marjoram in warm weather to protect roots from too much heat. In cold-winter regions, divide plants in fall and over-winter indoors for re-planting out in spring.
Propagation: Marjoram is slow to germinate so sowing indoors at 70°F is optimal. Marjoram also can be grown from root divisions taken in fall.
Container growing. Marjoram grows easily as an annual in containers. Select a container 6 inches deep. Potted marjoram can be grown indoors in a bright, sunny window.
Pests. Marjoram has no serious pest problems. Aphids and spider mites may attack marjoram but they can be sprayed away with a strong stream of water.
Diseases. Marjoram has no serious disease problems. Marjoram grown in wet soil or wet weather may suffer from root rot or damping off.
Harvest. Marjoram is ready for harvest 60 days after sowing. Cut fresh leaves as needed once plants are 4 to 6 inches tall. Cut-and-come-again harvesting will renew plants. Flavor is best before the plant flowers.
More tips: Thyme: Kitchen Basics
Varieties. Sweet marjoram is Origanum marjorana; oregano is Origanum vulgare. Origanum x majoricum is similar to sweet marjoram; it is called Italian marjoram or Sicilian marjoram. Italian marjoram has wider, greener leaves than sweet marjoram.
Storing and preserving. Keep fresh marjoram in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Dry leaves and flowers in a warm place and store them in an airtight container.
Use: flavoring, tea, attract bees, medicine, perfume
Common name. Marjoram, sweet marjoram
Botanical name. Origanum marjorana