Sweet or knotted marjoram (Origanum majorana) is a tender (or half-hardy) perennial herb with a tender growing habit. Many gardeners grow it as an annual because it doesn't overwinter successfully in cold climates.
Description[edit | edit source]
Marjoram looks similar to oregano but is finer.. It has small green to grey elliptical leaves. These leaves are soft and have a covering of down. The stem has grey hairs along it.
The flowers are very small and of a cream/white and/or pink/purplish colour. These look like little knots, hence the alternative name of "knotted marjoram". The flowers are attractive to bees.
The plant has tiny light brown nutlets for seeds.
The plant grows into a compact bush measuring around 40cm or 16 inches high.
Other types of marjoram[edit | edit source]
- Wild marjoram (Origanum vulgare)
- Pot marjoram (Origanum onites) - as its name suggests, it grows well in pots. It has a delicate flavour.
- Golden marjoram, gold-tipped marjoram
- Winter marjoram (Origanum heracleoticum)
Note that Origanum majorana was once known as Majorana hortensis, in case you're reading older manuals.
Growing marjoram[edit | edit source]
Grow from seed, this is the easiest method. Sow in seed trays in early spring.
Choose a position in full sun. Grow in healthy, rich soil which drains well. The pH is best around 6.9. It will grow well among the vegetables in the veggie garden.
Transplant the seedlings to containers or garden beds when ready. Do not put out before the frosts have finished; marjoram does not tolerate cold very well.
If you wish to grow the plant through winter in cold areas, bring indoors or take cuttings and root these/divide up and pot some to grow indoors.
Caring for marjoram[edit | edit source]
Cut away leggy old wood after winter to tidy the plant. Every three to four years, replace with new marjoram plants to prevent increased legginess.
Harvest the leaves prior to flowering for the best flavour.
Problems[edit | edit source]
Marjoram does not tolerate wet summers very well; it may rot. It grows well in pots, so if you live where the summer is likely to be wet, grow it in a container and bring it out of the rain often.
Pests and disease are not a major issue for this herb.
Uses for marjoram[edit | edit source]
Marjoram has a mild oregano flavour. It is used in cooking, fresh or dried. It can be a useful addition to Italian dishes, meats, fish dishes, soups, stews and stuffings, or added fresh to salads. It goes well with tomatoes and cheese. Marjoram can be added to oils, vinegars and herb butter.
The leaves dry well, with ease. Older dried marjoram has a strong flavour, so don't overuse it and use it within the year after drying.
Marjoram can be used to scent and decorate too, in potpourri, sachets and wreaths.
The herb has mild antiseptic properties. It can be added to herb bath sachets to take advantage of this property.
Marjoram can be used to make olive green dye.