Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 70-90 days from seed
Height: 12 to 24 inches
Spacing: 8 to 12 inches apart, 8 to 12 inches between rows
Herb gardeners growing marjoram (Origanum majoricum) enjoy its fragrant and flavorful leaves which are highly valued for seasoning. The aroma and flavor is similar to mild oregano, but noticeably sweeter.
Marjoram grows 1-2 feet tall and has square stems, gray-green leaves and small white flowers borne in clusters. Plants make an attractive groundcover in the summer and do well indoors during winter months. This tender perennial is often grown as an annual.
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- 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
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.
Pick 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.
Insects and Disease
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