How to grow marjoram?

Learn About Marjoram

Botrytis Blight: Also called gray mold, this causes a brown to gray fungus on plant leaves and stems. Diseased leaves die and fall off. If the infection is severe on the main stem the plant may die. The condition thrives in high humidity and cooler temperatures. Burpee Recommends: Remove infected plants and plant debris and clean tools before working with plants to avoid the spread of the disease and make sure plants have good air circulation.

Damping Off: This is one of the most common problems when starting plants from seed. The seedling emerges and appears healthy; then it suddenly wilts and dies for no obvious reason. Damping off is caused by a fungus that is active when there is abundant moisture and soils and air temperatures are above 68 degrees F. Typically, this indicates that the soil is too wet or contains high amounts of nitrogen fertilizer. Burpee Recommends: Keep seedlings moist but do not overwater; avoid over-fertilizing your seedlings; thin out seedlings to avoid overcrowding; make sure the plants are getting good air circulation; if you plant in containers, thoroughly wash them in soapy water and rinse in a ten per cent bleach solution after use.

Downy Mildew: This fungus causes whitish grey patches on the undersides and eventually both sides of the leaves. Burpee Recommends: Rotate crops with plants in a different family. Avoid overhead watering. Provide adequate air circulation, do not overcrowd plants. Do not work around plants when they are wet.

Powdery Mildew: This fungus disease occurs on the top of the leaves in humid weather conditions. The leaves appear to have a whitish or greyish surface and may curl. Burpee Recommends: Avoid powdery mildew by providing good air circulation for the plants by good spacing and pruning. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.

Rust: A number of fungus diseases that rust colored spots on foliage. Burpee Recommends: Plant early as these diseases tend to be worse later in the season. Practice crop rotation. Remove infected plants.

Common Pest and Cultural Problems

Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects that can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps who feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.

Cutworms: These insects cut off the seedlings at the soil level. Burpee Recommends: Place a paper cup collar (use a coffee cup with the bottom cut out) around the base of the plant. They are usually mostly a problem with young seedlings. You can also control by handpicking and controlling weeds, where they lay their eggs.

Mealybugs: Mealybugs are 1/8 to ¼ inch long flat wingless insects that secrete a white powder that forms a waxy shell that protects them. They form cottony looking masses on stems, branches and leaves. They suck the juices from leaves and stems and cause weak growth. They also attract ants with the honeydew they excrete, and the honeydew can grow a black sooty mold on it as well. Burpee Recommends: Wash infected plant parts under the faucet and try to rub the bugs off. They may also be controlled by predator insects such as lacewings, ladybugs and parasitic wasps. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for pesticide recommendations.

Spider Mites: These tiny spider-like pests are about the size of a grain of pepper. They may be red, black, brown or yellow. They suck on the plant juices removing chlorophyll and injecting toxins which cause white dots on the foliage. There is often webbing visible on the plant. They cause the foliage to turn yellow and become dry and stippled. They multiply quickly and thrive in dry conditions. Burpee Recommends: Spider mites may be controlled with a forceful spray every other day. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for miticide recommendations.

Thrips: Thrips are tiny needle-thin insects that are black or straw colored. They suck the juices of plants and attack flower petals, leaves and stems. The plant will have a stippling, discolored flecking or silvering of the leaf surface. Thrips can spread many diseases from plant to plant. Burpee Recommends: Many thrips may be repelled by sheets of aluminum foil spread between rows of plants. Remove weeds from the bed and remove debris from the bed after frost. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls.

Herb gardeners growing marjoram (Origanum majoricum) enjoy its fragrant and aromatic leaves which are highly valued for seasoning. The aroma and flavor improves with drying and is similar to mild oregano, but noticeably sweeter. Chefs choose it for its robust flavor but gentler bite.

Marjoram is a cold-sensitive culinary herb in the mint family. It grows 1-2 feet tall and has square stems, gray-green leaves and small white flowers borne in clusters. Pot-sized plants are perfect for containers and can be grown indoors all year round. Also makes an attractive outdoor groundcover in the summer. This tender perennial is often grown as an annual.

Fun fact: During the middle ages, marjoram and oregano were widely used to flavor beer. Hops came along much later.

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Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Harvesting Marjoram

  • Attracts beneficial insects and butterflies; excellent in soups, sauces, salads, and meat dishes
  • Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost, then plant outdoors after soil and air temps have warmed
  • Grows in almost any type of soil with minimal watering
  • Start harvesting 5-6 weeks after transplanting
  • Prevent attacks from aphids, spider mites and mildew by providing good air circulation

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 70-90 days from seed
Height: 12 to 24 inches
Spacing: 8 to 12 inches apart

Site Preparation

A member of the mint family, marjoram does well in containers, window boxes and garden beds. Plants prefer full sun and will grow in most types of soil with very little water. However, sandy fast-draining soil is best (watch our video How to Grow an Herb Garden).

Tip: Sweet marjoram will attract beneficial insects and butterflies when used as a border in the garden.

How to Plant

Start indoors under grow lamps 6-8 weeks before the last frost. Sow seeds just beneath the surface of the soil. Seeds will germinate in about 10 days. Set the seedlings in the garden after all danger from frost has passed (see our article How to Plant Seedlings in the Garden). Space plants 10 inches apart in all directions. If high humidity levels are a problem in your planting area, it is best to space plants further apart to encourage good air circulation. Begin harvesting 5-6 weeks after transplanting outdoors, or when plants are growing vigorously.

Harvesting and Storage

Harvest marjoram anytime after the plants are 3 inches tall. Harvesting herbs before the flowers open gives the best flavor. Marjoram is highly aromatic and its taste improves with drying. To dry, tie the cuttings in small bundles and hang upside down in a well-ventilated dark room. When dry, remove the leaves from the stems and store whole. Crush or grind just before use.

Insect & Disease Problems

A couple of the garden pests, including aphids and spider mites, are found attacking marjoram. Watch closely and take the following common sense, least-toxic approach to pest control:

  • Remove weeds and other garden debris to eliminate alternate hosts.
  • Discard severely infested plants by securely bagging and putting in the trash.
  • Release commercially available beneficial insects to attack and destroy insect pests.
  • Spot treat pest problem areas with neem oil or other organic pesticide.

To prevent or reduce plant diseases, many of which are characterized by wilting, spots and rotted tissue, we recommend the following:

  • Avoid overhead watering whenever possible (use soaker hoses or drip irrigation)
  • Properly space plants to improve air circulation
  • Apply copper spray or sulfur dust to prevent further infection

Quick Guide to Growing Sweet Marjoram

  • Plant sweet marjoram in spring after the last frost. It grows well in containers but is also a great choice if you’re looking for an edible groundcover.
  • Space plants 12 inches apart in an area with full sun and fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.7 to 7.0.
  • Add nutrients to your native soil by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter.
  • Feed regularly with a water-soluble plant food to get the best results from your growing efforts.
  • Check soil moisture every few days and water when the top inch of soil becomes dry.
  • Harvest sweet marjoram leaves 4 to 6 weeks after planting.

Soil, Planting, and Care

Plant sweet marjoram in the spring once there is no longer threat of frost. Sweet marjoram is slow-growing, so you will want to start with young plants instead of seed. Choose strong young sweet marjoram plants from Bonnie Plants®, which has been helping home gardeners succeed for over 100 years. Plant them 12 inches apart in full sun in rich, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.7 and 7.0. To improve the nutrition and quality of your existing soil, mix in some compost or aged compost-enriched Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose In-Ground Soil. If planting in pots, fill them with Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose Container Mix, which also contains nutrient-filled compost.

For best results, you’ll want to pair all that great soil with regular feedings for your marjoram plants throughout the season. Fertilize with a water soluble plant food like Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose Plant Nutrition (as directed on the label). Sweet marjoram will grow to about 12 to 24 inches tall. Be sure to trim plants when buds appear (and before they flower) to ensure continued growth.

If you live north of zone 7 and want to continue growing marjoram after it turns cold, take cuttings from late spring to the middle of summer to keep in indoor pots for the winter. Otherwise, lift plants in the fall. Marjoram may also be divided in the spring or fall to begin new plants.

Growing Your Own Marjoram

Native to North Africa and western Asia, marjoram (Origanum majorana) is sometimes called “knotted” marjoram because the tiny white flowers emerge from knot-shaped buds. You can use this flower characteristic to help confirm that you do, indeed, have marjoram rather than a related oregano, of which there are more than 30 species. This herb sometimes is called sweet marjoram, too, because no other oregano matches its clean, sprightly flavor.

To the ancient Greeks, marjoram was the herb of marital bliss. Thought to be a favorite of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, it was woven into garlands that brides and grooms wore on their heads. Also according to ancient folklore, sleeping with a bit of marjoram tucked under your pillow was supposed to promote dreams of true love. And before the Middle Ages, many people believed that planting marjoram on graves helped assure the happiness of departed loved ones.

Marjoram is not considered an important medicinal herb, but a tea brewed from its leaves may help with indigestion, headache or stress.

The herb’s flavor more than justifies growing it in your garden for culinary purposes, though. Think of marjoram as a tame oregano and use it with confidence in Italian-style, tomato-based dishes such as pasta or pizza, or as an accent for most vegetables, especially potatoes, whether they’re served hot, or marinated and served cold. Marjoram also is good on fresh tomato sandwiches, and it pairs well with eggs or cheese. A light sprinkling adds savory flavor to cream-based sauces or soups, especially potato soup, and to savory herb butter, too. And, the flowering tops are a pretty addition to herbal vinegar.

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Dried marjoram delivers flavor nearly equal to that of the fresh version; on the plant, the flavor usually peaks just before the flower buds form, though the buds are edible, too. When drying marjoram for kitchen use, lay 3-inch-long stem tips on a dry cookie sheet and place the cookie sheet in a 150-degree oven for two to three hours; this method retains marjoram’s essential oils and the green color of its leaves. Store the dried stems with their leaves intact in an airtight container in a cool, dark place; when you need some leaves for a recipe, just strip the right amount from the stems.

A fast-growing plant, marjoram will produce a steady supply of new growth if it is regularly trimmed back. Should you have more stems than you can use in the kitchen, mix them into potpourris, sachets, tussie-mussies or herbal wreaths; the flowering tops sometimes are used as a source of beige or gray dye, too.

Growing Your Own Marjoram

Marjoram cannot tolerate subfreezing temperatures, so it usually is grown as an annual, but it can be carried over because it is one of the easiest herbs to propagate from stem cuttings (described below), and it grows beautifully indoors in winter near a sunny, south-facing window.

In the garden, marjoram never grows more than 15 inches tall, and the soft stems tend to sprawl as they mature, so this herb makes a good edging plant. You can start with seed sown indoors in late winter, but germination usually is only about 50 percent, and early growth is very slow; a faster option is to buy new plants in spring.

Most marjoram plants are grown from cuttings, so they are well rooted and ready to grow as soon as you transplant them into warm soil. After the last spring frost, set out plants in full sun, in soil that is gritty and fast draining with a near-neutral pH. Alternatively, you can grow marjoram in containers; it’s a good plant to mix with other culinary herbs such as basil and thyme.

Feed your marjoram plants monthly with an all-purpose organic plant food, or more often if you’re growing them in containers. Take care not to overwater marjoram, but watch closely for signs of drought stress, too. Plants that wilt for more than a few hours in midday need more water. Cut stems back often to encourage your plant to branch, or wait until just before the flower buds form to harvest them in bulk by shearing the whole plant back by two-thirds its size. Sufficient stems for a second cutting should develop by early fall.

Take cuttings to root in midsummer: Cut several 3-inch-long stem tips that show no flower buds, remove all but the six to eight topmost leaves and set the cuttings to root in moist seed-starting mix. Placed in a shady spot and kept constantly moist, they should develop vigorous, new root systems in about three weeks. At that time, transplant the rooted cuttings, two each to a 6-inch pot filled with potting soil. A few weeks later, pinch back the tops to encourage branching.

With casual care, marjoram will continue to grow through fall and winter, and into the following spring. Soon after moving the plants outdoors, take cuttings from your overwintered marjoram, allow the cuttings to develop roots and then transplant them to the garden in early summer. This way, you can keep a strain of marjoram indefinitely, and always have plenty of fresh sprigs for use in the kitchen.

Sweet Marjoram

Origanum majorana

Very Tender Perennial/Annual

Description

Sweet marjoram is an annual with a low, spreading growth habit. Leaves are gray-green and velvety to the touch. Sweet marjoram is another member of the Oregano family but with a sweeter, milder flavor.

Culture

Sweet marjoram is easily grown from seed or cuttings. It prefers a full sun location and requires a well-drained soil. Sweet marjoram tends to be a low spreading plant that benefits from being pruned back when it is 6-8 inches tall to encourage a bushy growth habit. To enhance seed germination, soak seeds in water overnight.

Harvesting

Harvest marjoram when ball-like tips appear at the ends of the stems. When the plant starts to bloom, cut plants back close to the ground to stimulate a new flush of growth. The second flush of growth tends to be a more desired crop than the first cutting. Air dry cut stems and store in sealed containers.

Uses

Marjoram is used in soups, egg dishes, beef, and chicken dishes, sausages, cheese and tomato dishes.

Popular Varieties

  • Variegated Marjoram – Low growing perennial, with yellow-green variegated foliage. It is useful as an ornamental.

Indoor Culture

Sweet marjoram is easily grown as a container plant indoors in a sunny location. Start plants from seed or cutting or dig up plants from the garden before frost and bring them indoors.

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Marjoram

Marjoram is the name given to many species of perennial herb belonging to the genus Origanum, including the major species Origanum majorana which is grown for its leaves which are commonly used as a herb in cooking. Marjoram plants can be woody or herbaceous and possess multiple branching stems. The leaves are oval or round and are arranged alternately on the stems. The plants produce small pink, purple or white flowers and small oval, brown fruits and can reach up to 1 m (3.3 ft) in height. Marjoram is perennial and can be grown for 3–4 years but is commonly grown as an annual in northern climates. Marjoram may also be referred to as sweet marjoram and originated from the eastern part of the Mediterranean in Cyprus and southern Turkey.
Marjoram plant
Marjoram flowers
Marjoram plant ‹ ×
The leaves of the marjoram plant are used fresh or dried as a herb in cooking. They may also be dried and used to extract essential oil which is used as a flavoring.

Propagation

Basic requirements Marjoram is a temperate or subtropical plant and should be grown in full sunlight for best results. Marjoram will thrive in dry, rocky conditions which closely mimic their natural habitat. Plants will grow well in a rich, light loam with a pH range between 4.9–8.7. The optimum pH for marjoram is around 6.9. Marjoram is less hardy than its relative oregano and will grow best when the annual temperature does not fall below 15°C. Propagation Marjoram can be propagated from seed, cuttings, layering or by dividing the root. The optimum method of vegetative propagation depends on the size and growth habit of the mother plant. Seeds Seeds should be sown outdoors when the soil has warmed and all danger of frost has passed. Seeds can also be started indoors to produce transplants. Marjoram seeds should be sown indoors 6–8 weeks before planting outside. Sow seeds in a sterile seed starting mix in seed trays or pots 0.2–1.0 cm (0.08–0.4 in) deep and water gently. Ensure the temperature remains between 15.5 and 27°C (60–80°F). Seeds should germinate in about 5 days at 21°C (70°F). Due to the slow growing nature of the plant, many home growers choose to start with small plants which can be obtained from a nursery or garden center. Layering Sprawling marjoram varieties are easily layered by selecting a branch and covering with soil. A rock can be placed on top to hold the branch securely under the soil. The branch will develop it’s own root system and once established, can be cut from the mother plant and transplanted to a new site. Cuttings Larger, upright plants lend themselves to propagating from cuttings. Cuttings should be taken from approximately 20 cm (8 in) down the stem so that the basal portion of the cutting is hard and woody. The upper 5 cm (2 in) of the cutting can be nipped off to promote branching. Cuttings can be rooted in water, sand or a mixture of sand, peat and perlite. Transplanting Marjoram seedlings can be transplanted to the garden when they are between 6 and 8 weeks old, about 2 weeks after the last frost date. Plants should be spaced approximately 30 cm (12 in) apart, allowing 45 cm (18 in) between rows. Pinching back the growing tip of the plants after transplanting will encourage the growth of new shoots. Marjoram requires more moisture than oregano and soil moisture can be conserved by applying a layer of mulch around the plants. General care and maintenance Established marjoram plants are tolerant of drought but cannot tolerate water-logging. Established plants require additional irrigation only in very dry conditions. Marjoram planted outdoors requires minimum fertilization, particularly if planted in sandy or gravelly soils. In contrast, container grown plants require frequent addition of fertilizer. A half strength balanced fertilizer can be applied every two weeks if required. Marjoram plants should be pruned regularly to stimulate new growth. this pruning can simply be a method of harvesting from the plant but in the winter, any dead or damaged wood should be removed from the plant Harvesting Marjoram leaves can begin to be harvested any time after the plants have reached a height of 15–20 cm (6–8 in). Harvest leaves by pinching the leaves from the tips of the stems to encourage the more branching. Leaves should be pinched regularly to keep the plants productive and prevent them from going to seed. the best time to harvest marjoram leaves is just prior to flowering. Waiting or buds to form before harvesting will ensure the maximum essential oil content in the leaves.

Savio, Y & Robinson C. (1998). Marjoram, sweet marjoram, knot marjoram. In: Speciality and Minor Crop Handbook. University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Available at: http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/sustainag/extn_pub/veggie%20pubs/Marjaram,%20Sweet%20Marjaram,%20Knot%20Marjoram.pdf. . Free to access. Meyers, M. (2005). Oregano and marjoram. The Herb Society of America. Available at: http://www.herbsociety.org/factsheets/Oregano%20and%20Majoram.pdf. . Free to access.
marjoramOverview of marjoram, including how the herb is processed.Contunico © ZDF Enterprises GmbH, MainzSee all videos for this article

Marjoram, (Origanum majorana), also called sweet marjoram, perennial plant of the mint family (Lamiaceae), grown as a culinary herb. Its fresh or dried leaves and flowering tops are used to season many foods, imparting a warm, aromatic, slightly sharp, and bitterish flavour. Marjoram is particularly appreciated for the taste it lends to sausages, meats, poultry, stuffings, fish, stews, eggs, vegetables, and salads. Native to the Mediterranean region and western Asia, marjoram is also cultivated as an annual in northerly climates where winter temperatures kill the plant.

marjoramMarjoram (Origanum majorana), a culinary herb.Forest & Kim Starr

Marjoram is a bushy herbaceous plant that typically reaches 30–60 cm (1–2 feet) in height. The square branching stems are densely covered with hairy ovate leaves, arranged oppositely in pairs. The pale two-lipped flowers are not particularly showy and are borne in small spikelike clusters. Marjoram contains about 2 percent essential oil, the principal components of which are terpinene and terpineol.

Various other aromatic herbs or undershrubs of the genus Origanum are called marjoram. Pot marjoram (O. onites) is also cultivated for its aromatic leaves and is used to flavour food. Oregano, or wild marjoram (O. vulgare), is a popular culinary herb native to Europe and Asia.

What can you tell me about the herb marjoram?

There are three kinds of marjoram commonly used as herbs: sweet marjoram (Origanum marjorana), pot marjoram (O. onites), and wild marjoram (O. vulgare) (see Oregano). Sweet and pot marjoram are the ones usually grown in herb gardens. The perennial plants are very similar, except sweet marjoram tends to grow upright while pot marjoram runs along the ground. Marjoram is similar to oregano, but it has a finer texture. This tender perennial has a dense, shallow root system and is grown as an annual. Marjoram attracts bees and flowers late spring to summer. When planting pot marjoram, space the plants about 12 inches apart in the row, and sweet marjoram should be placed every 6 inches. Plants can be started early in the spring from seeds, cuttings, or clump divisions. The leaves are used fresh or dried; they are similar to oregano but more delicate. Marjoram is sufficiently attractive to make an excellent border planting for a flower garden. Aromatic qualities led to its historical use as a strewing herb which means it was spread across floors of homes and buildings. Marjoram has mild antiseptic properties and is often added to herb bath mixtures. The leaves and flowers are used fresh or dried in cooking many foods, including beef, veal, lamb, poultry, fish, green vegetables, carrots, cauliflower, eggs, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Marjoram can be used to flavor stews, marinades, dressing, vinegars, butter, and oils. The plant can be grown in containers in cold hardiness zones 9-10, in full sun and well drained, slightly acidic soil. Dried marjoram can be added to herb wreaths, especially culinary wreaths. It is said to have some medicinal qualities. In ancient Egypt, marjoram was used in healing, disinfecting, and preserving. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was said to treasure this herb. The Greeks called this plant “joy of the mountain” and used it to make wreaths and garlands for weddings and funerals. For more complete information about growing herbs in Florida, read the University of Florida publication:

by Rebecca Jordi

Posted: August 7, 2015

Category: Fruits & Vegetables, Home Landscapes

Tags: Majoram

Growing Marjoram

Shakespeare knew his herbs, and characterized them in his work. In All’s Well that Ends Well, someone gives a compliment, describing another as, “the sweet marjoram of the salad, or rather the herb of grace.” It is a delightful herb, at once sweet and savory. Use it in sauces, egg dishes, fish, poultry, and, as the Bard alludes, in salads.

Origanum majorana goes by several common names: sweet marjoram, garden marjoram, and annual marjoram. It is hardy only to USDA Zone 9 and rarely survives even mild winters. Plant seeds or purchase plants each spring. Sweet marjoram has an upright, bushy growth habit and can reach a foot in height. (Where perennial, it can reach 2 feet.)

Growing Marjoram

Start the tiny seeds indoors under grow lights about 6 weeks before the last frost date in your region. Set out seedlings in full sun in slightly alkaline soil that’s rich in organic matter. Place plants about 6 to 8 inches apart, or in clumps of two or three plants set 12 to 14 inches apart, and keep the soil slightly moist until they are growing vigorously. Pinch back stems to maintain a bushy growth habit. After each harvest, add 1 inch of compost in a 12-inch-wide band around the plants.

Harvest and Storage

When flowers appear, cut entire plants to stand 3 to 4 inches tall, and repeat as more flower buds appear. Use leaves fresh, and dry some for winter use. Leaves dry quickly and retain their flavor well. To dry, tie stems together and hang bunches upside down in a shady, dry, well-ventilated place. After drying, remove leaves from stems and store in an airtight container.

Marjoram, oregano (Origanum)

Both marjoram and oregano are versatile and essential herbs that good cooks will always have to hand. They are perennial herbs and a plant of each will provide lots of tasty leaves – and even their colourful flowers – for cooking.

Marjoram or oregano?

Marjoram and oregano are both very attractive garden plants, especially when flowering, and there are also varieties with golden coloured leaves.

The commonly grown marjorams are sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana) and pot marjoram (Origanum onites); oregano is Origanum vulgare. Both are popular in Italian, Greek and Mexican dishes, soups, stuffings, pasta and tomato sauces and to flavour oils and vinegars.

As for tastes, most marjorams have a more delicate, sweeter flavour than the stronger tasting and pungent leaves of oregano, which have a definite spicy taste. Oregano is typically used to flavour foods that already have strong flavours. Marjorams provide background flavours rather than dominant ones, and most people say that sweet marjoram is the best marjoram for cooking purposes. Because of its strong taste, many dried oreganos bought in shops also contains some marjoram.

Cultivating marjoram and oregano

As marjoram and oregano are natives of the Mediterranean, they need a warm, sunny position. They are fairly drought tolerant and need a well-drained, humus-rich, preferably alkaline or neutral, soil.

As plants can be killed by overly wet soils, and if your soil is heavy, poorly draining clay, marjoram and oregano are perfect for growing in containers of John Innes No.2 compost or multi-purpose compost with added John Innes.

Marjoram and oregano varieties

  • Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’: very ornamental, but not strong flavour, with grey-green leaves and very showy pinky-purple bracts surrounding the flowers.
  • Origanum majorana: sweet marjoram – pinky-purple flowers.
  • Origanum onites: pot marjoram – dark green leaves and pink flowers.
  • Origanum vulgare: oregano – dark green leaves and pink flowers.
  • Origanum vulgare Aureum: golden oregano – bright yellow leaves and pink flowers.
  • Origanum vulgare Aureum Crispum: crinkly golden leaves and pink flowers.
  • Origanum vulgare Compactum: compact oregano with pink flowers.
  • Origanum vulgare Nanum: dwarf oregano – compact growth, small leaves and whitish flowers.
  • Origanum vulgare subsp. hirtum: Greek oregano – bright green leaves and white flowers.

Sowing marjoram and oregano seeds

You can grow both marjoram and oregano from seed. Sow seeds indoors from February to May with warmth – preferably in a heated propagator – in small pots. When seedlings are large enough to handle, prick out 3 into an 7.5-9cm (3-3.5in) pot of multi-purpose compost with added John Innes.

Grow indoors until early summer or until all danger of frost has passed, then plant outdoors.

Planting marjoram and oregano

Plant small plants in very well-drained soil, with added compost and/or grit to improve drainage. Although plants are fairly drought tolerant when established, they need watering in until well established.

Add a mulch of horticultural grit or gravel around plants to prevent moisture sitting at the base of the plant.

Suggested planting locations and garden types

Flower borders and beds, patios, containers, city and courtyard gardens, cottage and informal gardens, herb gardens.

How to care for marjoram and oregano

Once established, plants in the ground will rarely need watering, apart from when growing in very light soils or during very prolonged periods of dry or drought conditions in summer.

Water plants growing in pots regularly, but avoid overwatering or the roots may die. Raise pots off the ground in winter to aid drainage. Give plants a liquid feed during summer to improve growth and flavour.

Keep the plants compact and bushy by trimming them back after the flowers fade. Also cut back any dead stems to their base.

To ensure winter harvests of leaves, place potted plants in a well-lit position under cover. You can divide older plants in spring or after flowering in late summer.

Marjoram and oregano can be picked all year round, but the flavour is strongest during summer. Pick the leaves before the flower buds open.

Marjoram leaves are generally used fresh, whereas those of oregano can also be dried or frozen and stored.

Flowering season(s)

Summer

Foliage season(s)

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter

Sunlight

Full sun

Soil type

Chalky, Clay, Loamy, Sandy

Soil pH

Alkaline or neutral

Soil moisture

Well-drained

Ultimate height

30cm (12in)

Ultimate spread

Up to 50cm (20in)

Time to ultimate height

2-3 years

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