Growing Sweet Marjoram
A wonderful herb to grow!
Marjoram is a tender perennial which can be hardy in zones 6 and above, but should be treated as an annual for those who live in zones lower. They grow well in hanging baskets, or even in containers, which is great for bringing these plants inside for the winter.
The Botanical name for Sweet Marjoram is origanum majorana. You should always look for this name when selecting Sweet Marjoram for culinary purposes. Other types of Marjoram, such as pot, wild or showy marjoram, may not taste as flavorable. Marjoram comes from the Oregano family and is sometimes called “knotted marjoram” due to the shape of the seed heads. Marjoram and Oregano both have many similar features. However, to distinguish the difference between the two you will notice that Marjoram has smoother and lighter leaves, and a spicy sweet aroma. Sweet Marjoram is used in a variety of foods such as eggs, cheese, and meats. These herbs are often used together in many cooking recipes.
Many growers will propagate Marjoram from stem cuttings, which easily set root right away. If starting Sweet Marjoram from seed you will need to sprinkle seeds in a wet growing medium and just slightly cover them with soil. You should cover the flat with a plastic dome cover or use clear plastic wrap such as “Glad” to trap moisture and heat in. This will speed up the germination process. Marjoram needs moisture, heat and light to germinate. Temperature should be between 60-70 degrees, and it should begin to germinate within 7- 14 days.
After seeds have germinated, place plants in full sun and allow soil to completely dry out between watering. Marjoram is very sensitive to fungal disease, especially when they are older and much thicker. Cutting back the plants will help increase air circulation, decreasing the opportunity for fungus. Marjoram is also susceptible to white flies, aphids and spider mites. If you do have a problem with these insects there are many natural and chemical treatments you can apply. Personally I try to use the most natural treatments I can such as introducing the good bugs that eat the bad bugs, and giving my plants a good washing when I harvest them.
Marjoram could take as long as 3 months before it can be harvested. The plant will stop growing after first harvest for a short period and then will resume growing and produce flowers. It is important not to cut these flowers, but to let them fully produce and die off on their own. If you cut them the plant will continuously try to produce new ones. Once the flowers have browned out, cut no more than half of the foliage. The new growth will be ready for its second harvest in just a short time.