Ilona Erwin

Origanum majorana, sweet marjoram

sweet marjoram

Marjoram is one of the herb garden residents who manage to find a place in your heart.

It doesn’t start out that way. The appearance is a pale olive drab and their culinary use is not in high demand as other high profile herbs. Over time, however, you may find an attachment to this soft-spoken kitchen herb.

It is sometimes used in the mix of the Herbes de Provence, which are a blend of herbs which add savory nuance to dishes such as stews, soups, chicken dishes, and cheese. Personally, this herb, and the Herbes de Provence mixture are favorites in my cooking right now.


A Matter of Economics: Sowing Seed

marjoram leaves
Every year I have paid a pretty penny for plants from the garden stores. Now, I have decided to grow my own from seed with a complete row of aromatic sweet marjoram to make the wreaths, and spice the cooking… as well as the subtle grace of this plant I like so well tucked into containers.

Since there are several plants that go by the name “Marjoram”, it is wise to use the Latin name to clarify which plant is meant: Origanum hortensis (Fam. Labiatae), also known as “knotted marjoram”.

Origanum vulgare is the “oregano” of Italian culinary fame- it has a much stronger taste than marjoram. It could be mistaken for its cousin, but the flavor is unmistakenly different.

Indeed, sir, she was the sweet Marjoram of the salad, or rather, the herb of grace.

The Look Of Marjoram

Somewhat felty green to gray green leaves, small similarly colored crenellated buds with a bit of white flower, they grow on wiry stems that form a full burst of branches, kept bushy by regularly harvesting the growth.

Cultivating Marjoram

A tender perennial, it will not withstand frost, so each year in the North it must be planted from cuttings, or started plants.

The seeds are slow to germinate and the recommended time to begin growing the seeds is six to seven weeks before the frost dates. Fertile, well drained soil, moderate moisture will make marjoram happy.

Many of the same conditions that herbs in general grow well in suits this plant, as well. Pinch back the tops of the plants to encourage branching and promote bushy growth.

  • Full sun
  • Moderate moisture
  • Hardy in zones 9 and 10
  • Well-drained location
  • Neutral to alkaline pH soil
  • Good air circulation

In the vegetable garden you can set plants eight to ten inches apart in rows a foot apart

Uses Of This Herb

Besides cookery, I have loved having a little wreath made of the dried cuttings. Marjoram holds its scent well for a long time, and they are easy to attach to a small wire frame. The softest green color is a welcome ornamentation to a kitchen wall, as well as a base for additions of small sprigs of dried flowers for color. Fresh wreaths of marjoram were used for weddings, and this would be a fragrant and lovely way to use its connotation of “happiness”.

It is recommended to cut before flowering for best flavor, but I liked to cut after the appearance of the flowers. It bears repeat cuttings, allowing to come to flower each time.

Fun Facts

A symbol of happiness in Greek and Roman times. The essential oil along with that of Rosemary can be used to deter spider mites.
Considered a good tonic, marjoram has reputed medicinal qualities. It is calming in effect.

The scent combines well with bergamot, basil, lavender, citrus, rosemary, thyme, pepper, German chamomile, black pepper, and thyme.


Shakespeare,Winter’s Tale, iv. 4

Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram; The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ th’ sun, And with him rises weeping; these are flow’rs Of middle summer, and I think they are given To men of middle age.

A Favorite Herb de Provence Recipe
Grilled Salmon with Herbs
More Herb Pages

Herb Growing Guide
Grow My 10 Favorite Herbs
Easy Steps To Making An Herb Garden


feature photo by phoebe photo

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.