Sweet marjoram (Origanum marjorana)
About This Herb
Sweet marjoram (or just marjoram) is a tender perennial plant native to the Mediterranean. The flavorful leaves have a sweet floral scent with a taste somewhere between thyme and oregano. Sweet marjoram is used to season a variety of dishes from soups to stews; salads to sauces, and it makes an aromatic tea. The shrub-like plant has small pointed gray-green leaves and it also produces small flowers.
How to Grow Sweet marjoram
Sweet marjoram is grown as an annual in cold-climates like zone 5. While some gardeners prefer to grow this culinary herb in patio containers, it makes a nice spreading groundcover along borders or in the ornamental garden for the season.
Like other herbs, sweet marjoram is adaptable to a variety of soil conditions. However, plants do best in sun to light-shade and planted in amended, well-draining soil.
If planting in containers, plan for a large enough pot for a plant that can grow 12-24 inches tall and about 18 inches wide. Make sure the container has drainage holes and fill it with a quick-draining potting soil. Also make sure the container can be easily moved to bring inside to overwinter.
Because sweet marjoram is a warm-weather plant, wait until spring night-time temperatures are a reliable 50-55 degrees before planting. Then plant sweet marjoram from transplants to get the fastest start on the growing season.
Space plants in the garden bed about 12-18 inches apart or plant in an easy-to-move container for the patio garden.
Keep plants watered, but allow soil to dry between waterings. The roots will suffer if plants are overwatered. Feed with a general-purpose fertilizer once or twice through the season to keep plants healthy. Sweet marjoram grows tubular pink or white flowers in the summer that start out looking like little knots or bumps on the stems.
Give sweet marjoram plants a chance to get established before clipping leaves, about 4 weeks after planting. Clip leaves to use in cooking as needed and plan to dry some leaves because they hold their flavor well.
How to use Sweet marjoram in the Kitchen
Use fresh leaves to flavor soups, stews and fish dishes. Sweet marjoram adds depth to fresh salads and steamed vegetables like carrots, beans, peas and spinach. When dried, mix together with other dried herbs to create the tasty fines herbes mixture used in French cooking.
Companion Plants for Sweet marjoram
Plant sweet marjoram with its fines herbes companions:
Materials for Sweet marjoram Success
- High-quality compost
- Quick-draining soil and large container
- All-purpose granular or water soluble fertilizer
- Sweet marjoram plants