Growing Marjoram

Marjoram is a tender perennial herb in the oregano family. It's frequently placed on the oregano page of herb texts, so it's easy to miss sometimes; and in the garden, too, it can look like oregano, with its small gray-green leaves and bushy habit. Marjoram is a very different plant, though. I've heard it described as a milder oregano, but that seems like giving it short shrift. Marjoram is mild, but it can bring great depth to a hearty soup or stew. Since it has much less of the bite that we associate with oregano, it deepens the flavor of meat and pork dishes without suggesting Italian or Greek influence. In our house, it's a favorite.

Growing and Propagating Marjoram

Grow marjoram much as you would oregano, in rich soil that's slightly alkaline. It likes partial shade on hot afternoons. Please check my post on oregano for general instructions on propagating and maintaining marjoram in the garden.

Growing Marjoram Indoors

Where marjoram parts company with its cousin oregano is in its delicacy. Unable to tolerate a hard frost, it's best to bring marjoram indoors if your area experiences harsh winters. Marjoram needs bright light to overwinter indoors, so make sure to place it in a location where it will get good light, or supplement with grow lights.

Happy to overwinter indoors in a sunny window, marjoram just needs an occasional watering with liquid fertilizer. Put the pot back out on a deck or patio in spring when all threat of frost has passed for the season.

Harvesting Marjoram

Select new growth just before buds form, and never take too much. Harvest about a quarter of the plant per season, no more.

Using Marjoram

Sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana) is the best for cooking. It also shows well dried, and retains its flavor. It shines when paired with meat dishes and strong wine sauces. It is also a great compliment to peppers, as in stuffed bell peppers; eggs, when included in quiche or frittatas; and stuffings, particularly those with a sausage base.

Include marjoram in your summer festivities this year, just remember to bring her indoors when it starts to get cold.

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