Marjoram is a superb “plant it and forget it” type of herb plant. Aside from being a little cold weather sensitive, marjoram thrives equally well when cultivated indoors in a pot, or outside in a raised bed.
This member of the Lamiaceae family is a cousin to oregano, basil, summer savory, rosemary, thyme, mint, sage, and lavender. Marjoram is also commonly referred to as wild oregano, sweet marjoram, or knotted marjoram. The botanical name for marjoram is Origanum majorana.
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What Does Marjoram Taste Like?
Marjoram boasts an earthy sweet taste, and is a highly versatile culinary herb. It can be used both fresh and dried in cooking and natural healing recipes.
This herb has a flavor that has often been compared to that of thyme, but is somewhat sweeter, and boasts a stronger scent.
Some folks find marjoram to be a little bit bitter or sharp, but I have personally never had a similar taste experience when using marjoram when either cooking or whipping up a natural herbal remedy.
Marjoram History and Facts
- Marjoram has been cultivated for centuries. Aphrodite, of Greek mythology fame, grew the fuzzy and delicious herb.
- This herb is native to North Africa, the Mediterranean, and western Asia.
- The leaves of the marjoram plant are oval shaped, a deep green, fairly fuzzy, and grow adjacent to each-other in knots or clusters.
- Its botanical name is of Greek origin and means “joy of the mountains” or brightness.
- There are approximately 40 different varieties of marjoram, but there is only one type that is known as “true” marjoram – the rest are merely referred to as various oregano herbs.
How to Cook With Marjoram
- The herb is often wrapped in a bit of cheesecloth, and used to enhance the aroma of stews and braises when allowed to float in the cookpot.
- Sprinkling fresh marjoram onto vegetable or side dishes made with vegetables adds a bit of sweet flavor – especially to veggie dips.
- Marjoram, the dried version in particular, is incredibly delicious when added to tomato sauces and tomato based recipes – even homestyle favorites like pizza and spaghetti.
- Dried or fresh marjoram can be mixed in meatballs, sausage recipes, and minced meat recipes (like meatloaf) to enhance the flavor.
- Sprinkle some dried or fresh marjoram onto your salad for a burst of sweet flavor, or mix it into your favorite store bought or homemade salad dressing recipe.
- Sprinkle chopped marjoram over your favorite pizza.
- Marjoram is also a frequent ingredient in egg or cheese recipes, and tastes great in a morning omelette.
- Make your Thanksgiving stuffing even more tasty and fluffy by stirring in some marjoram.
6 Classic Marjoram Recipes
- Sauteed carrots with lemon and marjoram
- Chicken in marjoram and lemon sauce
- Marjoram roasted potatoes
- Marjoram herbal tea
- Tomato and corn salad with marjoram
- Marjoram mushrooms
Marjoram Herbal Remedy Uses
- The flowers, leaves, and oil from the marjoram herb are used as active base ingredients in numerous natural remedies.
- This herb has been used in natural home remedies designed to improve heart health, as a “nerve tonic,” and to enhance blood circulation.
- Marjoram has also been used by herbalists to treat migraines, depression, nerve pain, digestive problems, as a diuretic, dizziness, and symptoms of the common cold such as a minor cough and runny nose.
- To treat the common cold in children and adults, marjoram is usually brewed into a tea made from the flowers and leaves from the plant. This same tea is also often consumed to treat a sore throat and earache pain.
- Marjoram tea might also be useful in reducing or eliminating symptoms of menstruation and menopause.
How to Grow Marjoram Outdoors
Marjoram is a perennial herb that is typically cultivated like an annual when grown outdoors because of its difficulty surviving extremely cold or freezing temperatures.
The plant can be grown successfully year-round in a container relocated inside as the temperature dips or in a pot kept entirely indoors.
- Marjoram seeds should be planted during the final weeks of winter, or during the early days of spring – about six weeks before the last typical frost date.
- It takes roughly one to two weeks for marjoram seeds to germinate. You may be able to speed up the germination process by soaking the seeds in cool (but not cold) or lukewarm water overnight before planting.
- Gently push the marjoram seeds slightly below the surface of the soil – about ¼ of an inch deep. The seeds are tiny, and can be displaced easily. I often just lay the seeds on the surface of the starter container, and sprinkle soil directly on top of them.
- Water the seeds gently until the area where they were dispersed is entirely moist, but NOT soggy.
- Transplant the marjoram seeds into larger pots when they are about three to four inches tall.
- Do not relocate the marjoram plants outdoors until you are positive that the final threat of even a light frost has passed.
- Seedlings from this herb plant should be placed one foot apart.
- Marjoram should be grown in a full sun environment, and receive light at least eight hours per day.
- This healing and culinary herbs thrives in well draining soil.
- Marjoram is incredibly drought-resistant, and should never be watered to the point where the soil is saturated. Water when the soil begins to feel dry to the touch, but never overwater this herb plant.
- Trim marjoram plants regularly during the growing season by snipping back the leaves to help foster new growth. Flower budding is a good indicator that it is time to cut back leaves.
- If you live in USDA Growing Zone 9 or above, marjoram may be able to survive outdoors year round, and be treated like the true perennial that it is. Otherwise, you will have to grow marjoram either as an annual or indoors to keep it cultivating new growth regardless of the temperature outside.
How to Grow Marjoram Indoors
- Marjoram should be grown in a pot that is at least eight inches in diameter, and has distinct draining holes poked or drilled through the bottom. You can also start seeds in cells, and transplant them once they become healthy seedlings.
- Marjoram is a “trailing” plant that will spread out just above the soil, much like ivy. The pot a mature plant grows in should be wide in addition to being fairly shallow to allow the marjoram space to spread out.
- Place a drainage tray beneath the pot it’s growing in, or water the pot in the sink and allow it to remain there for roughly 15 minutes until all of the excess water has drained. The container and soil should offer the same amount of drainage that is most often recommended for cactus and succulent plants.
- Use a well draining and top quality potting soil mix to start either seeds or cuttings of marjoram. A potting soil that contains either perlite or peat moss – or ideally both, is highly recommended.
- Seeds can be planted as indicated above in the growing outdoors section.
- Place the pot or seed trays in a full sun area or beneath grow lights. It is essential that the germinating seeds or growing plant receive full sun. A window that garners southern exposure sun is ideal.
- If using a grow light, I highly recommend using the LED version and placing the light just six inches above the marjoram plant. While six hours of sunlight is necessary for marjoram to grow, setting the timer on the grow light to allow for up to 12 hours a day should bolster the growth rate, and overall health of the plant. Fluorescent grow lights work also when cultivating marjoram indoors, just not typically as well as the LED version.
Growing Marjoram From Cuttings
Marjoram is often easier to start from cuttings than it is from seed.
- You can snip off about five or six stems from a mature plant to start new ones. The stems should be a minimum of six inches long.
- A growing container that is only four inches in diameter will suit the cuttings fine, but they will need to be transplanted to the type of pot recommended above or into a ground plot, once the marjoram plant grows to four to six inches tall – just past the seedling stage.
- Cut or gently pluck the leaves from the bottom one inch of the stem.
- Dip them into a root hormone (optional but recommended) and then plant them into the type of soil recommended for seed starting that you have already moistened with water. I also recommend poking the soil with a pencil to create an opening to gently slide each stem cutting into.
Marjoram Care Tips
- This herb plant grows most successfully in a soil with a pH balance between 6.5 to 7.5, and is as close to neutral as possible.
- If your soil is too acidic, sprinkle some lime into it to help reduce its acid content.
- If the soil level has too high of an alkaline content, try adding some peat moss or fresh grass clippings into the dirt.
- Should the marjoram leaves develop white dots, it likely means that a loss of chlorophyll is occurring. This loss is often caused by “sucking” type of insects. While the leaves are still considered safe to eat, the taste and scent of the marjoram herb plant will likely be diminished.
- Growth of marjoram plants will naturally slow down during the winter months if you are growing it indoors or live in a region where it remains warm enough to allow it to grow outdoors. If the plant has a sustained slow growth rate outside of winter time, consider topping the soil the herb plant is growing in with some quality compost to give it an extra boost – liquid fertilizer, or fish emulsion.
- White Flies
- Spider Mites
- Cut Worms
- Mealy Worms
Marjoram Plant Diseases
- Root Rot
- Downy Mildew
- Powdery Mildew
- Damping Off
- Mildew Rust
- Gray Mold – Botrytis Blight
Harvesting Marjoram Plants
Harvest marjoram as the shoots on the flowers begin to open for maximum scent and flavor. Once the flower blooms have fully opened, that is when the taste of the herb can turn slightly bitter.
You may also harvest fresh marjoram leaves throughout the growing season to use in cooking or herbal remedies. Snip the leaves free with a pair or sharp scissors instead of pulling them off to avoid damage to the plant that could either inhibit growth or kill it entirely.
Typically, you can harvest up to two-thirds of a healthy plant at any one time without harming it.
How to Dry Marjoram Plants
For best results dry marjoram as slowly and with as much low heat as possible to preserve potency, scent, and taste. I use the fruit, nuts, and herbs setting on my Nesco dehydrator – 135 degrees F (57 C).
You can also go the old fashioned route (which can work best) and snip some marjoram cuttings, tie them in a bunch with twine, and hang dry in a cool, dark, and well ventilated area for several weeks to dry. The scent of the drying marjoram will smell lovely as it wafts softly through your home.
Marjoram is not as commonly a cultivated herb as mint, basil, and thyme, but it will surely become a favorite on your homestead once you successfully grow your first batch and start using it in the kitchen and to make sweet and healing herbal teas.
Tara lives on a 56 acres farm in the Appalachian Mountains, where she faces homesteading and farming challenges every single day, raising chickens, goats, horses, and tons of vegetables. She’s an expert in all sorts of homesteading skills such as hide tanning, doll making, tree tapping, and many more.