Marjoram, also sometimes called knotted marjoram, is a popular culinary herb whose leaves and shoots are used as a seasoning. A main component in Herbes de Provence, marjoram has small and smooth opposite leaves, usually around 1″ in length with a wide base and tapered tip, that grow off of reddish-brown stems. A close relative of oregano, its taste is sweet and delicate and is sometimes described as piney or citrusy. Marjoram is a common ingredient in spaghetti sauce recipes and can be used in all types of savory dishes and rubs.
The Sweet marjoram variety is often considered to be the common type of this herb and produces grey-green leaves. Gardeners in USDA Zones 6 and above can try growing it outdoors as a perennial, but in colder areas, you should treat it as an annual. Small white to pink flowers grow in clusters on spikes in late summer. This herb will grow to 1–2 feet in height and makes a great border or container plant.
Seed: Do not cover seeds with soil as they require light for germination.
Seed Depth: Press into soil surface.
Space Between Plants: 12–18″
Space Between Rows: 12–24″
Germination Soil Temperature: 65–70°F
Days for Germination: 7–14
Sow Indoors: Recommended. 4–6 weeks before average last frost date.
Sow Outdoors: After all chance of frost has passed.
Vegetative: Can be propagated by dividing the root ball of established plants. Will also grow well from stem cuttings.
Prefers a more moderate climate. If living in cooler zones, we recommend that you take cuttings in fall to grow inside over the winter since it’s possible the plants will not survive deep freezes. Covering plants’ roots with mulch or straw can increase their chances of overwintering. If living in an extremely hot region, indoor planting may be a better option as the plant cannot endure scorching, humid weather.
Natural: Full sun.
Artificial: Grows well under T5 fluorescent lamps.
Soil: Prefers well-drained soil; however, it will grow well in most soil types. A pH of 6.6 to 7.0 will keep plants healthy and nourished.
Soilless: Will germinate in most soilless potting mixes such as vermiculte, coco coir, or rock wool.
Hydroponics: Will thrive in a hydroponic media-based system.
Water: Requires moderate levels of water. Unlike many other plants, marjoram prefers a soil that is slightly dry over one that is too wet, so take care not to overwater your plants.
Nutrients: A light to moderate feeder, marjoram reacts well to slow-release fertilizers and most balanced nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium mixes; however, they are not necessary. Plants can be fertilized prior to planting and on a monthly basis following transplanting or sowing, if you want.
Foliar: Spray seaweed extract or compost tea 2 to 4 times throughout the growing season to keep plants robust.
Pruning: Trim back any dead or dying flowers or branches to keep nutrients flowing to the healthy parts of the plant.
Companions: Grows well with almost all vegetables and herbs. Avoid planting next to onions or garlic.
Harvest: Can begin to harvest once plants have reached approximately 3″ in height and before the flowers have opened. Harvest by cutting or picking stems, leaving at least 2/3 of the plant.
Storage: Freshly cut stems will store for up to one week in the refrigerator. You can place the cut end of stems in a glass of water to extend their life. After drying, leaves will keep in an airtight container in a dark, dry place for up to a year.
Fun Fact: Similar to oregano, its relative, marjoram is an effective pest deterrent and can even drive off voracious eaters such as deer from your garden!
Preserve: Keeps best when dried by either hanging upside down in a well-ventilated location or placing leaves in a dehydrator or oven set to a very low temperature.
Prepare: Can be added dried or fresh to any number of dishes. As it has a similar flavor profile to oregano, it’s commonly used in Italian dishes.
Nutritional: Contains high levels of antioxidants as well as trace amounts of vitamin(s) A, C, calcium, and iron.
Medicinal: Historically, marjoram has been used for many ailments related to the stomach, such as reducing gas, acting as a laxative, relieving nausea, and improving overall stomach health.
To create your own tasty rub, try this recipe for an Italian Seasoning including basil, oregano, and thyme!