Marjoram can be grown as an annual or perennial.
It goes by several common names - sweet marjoram, garden marjoram, and annual marjoram.
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Oregano and Marjoram are frequently mistaken for one another Marjoram is generally milder and has a sweeter aroma , with a slight after taste of mint. Oregano is a stronger and has a very slight hint of a peppery taste. Oregano is sometimes referred to as wild marjoram and Pot Marjoram is referred to as Cretan oregano . Both plants are of the same genus, but are not the same.
Marjoram is only hardy in warmer climates, up to Zone 9 and will not survive, even very mild winters. See Hardiness Zones. In colder areas , north of zone 9 some gardeners will plant marjoram in a pot and then plant the pot in the ground, come fall they remove the pot from the ground and bring it indoors.
Marjoram can be started from seed or seedlings in the spring. Sweet marjoram grows up to 2 feet in height when grown as a perennial. Seeds can be started with grow lights indoors 5 - 6 weeks before the last spring frost date.
The seeds are extremely small, so donít waste your time trying to separate them individually to plant. Simply plant a few in each seed hole, you can thin them out later if need be.
Planting ~ Care
Sweet marjoram germinates relatively fast - 10 -14 days, but is tediously slow-growing, so if you are planting directly in the soil you'll need to start with young plants as opposed to seed.
Set out seedlings in full sun. The soil should be slightly alkaline and rich in organic matter. A soil ph of 6.7 to 7.0 is optimal. Set the plants about 6 to 8 inches apart, or in clusters of 2 - 3 plants each. Keep the soil slightly moist at first , once they are growing vigorously cut back.
Pinching back the stems will help maintain a robust bushy growth pattern.
There are no known bad companions for Marjoram, and it helps improve the growth and flavor of many - In particular Asparagus, beets, cabbage, cucumbers
and other circubits. The flowers attract bees and other pollinators to your garden, which can be very helpful.
Occasionally aphids or spider mites are a pest in Marjoram, but not frequently. Serious infestations are uncommon and are generally easily treated , I recommend Neem Oil or Azadirachtin , which are Neem based products that are very eco-friendly and not harmful to people, pets or livestock. Once you've sprayed the plant, donít harvest any leaves for several days. And when you do, wash them well before using.
Marjoram is a hardy and versatile plant that doesn't require a lot of fertilizer. Maintain the proper pH range and Marjoram will basically take care of itself. A modest amount of slow-release fertilizer before planting can't hurt.
Harvest and Storage
As soon as the flowers appear, generally 90 to 100 days from germination, cut the entire plant down to 3 to 4 inches in height, and repeat as more flower buds emerge. Add about 3/4 inch of compost at the plant base after each harvest.
You can use some leaves fresh, Fresh leaves generally keep in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days at most. You can also dry others for later use. Leaves dry quickly in the sun on a food dehydrator on a low setting and retain much of their flavor.
To Dry Marjoram tie harvested stems and leaves together and hang them upside down in bunches in a dry, well-ventilated area. After drying, separate the leaves from stems and store in airtight containers. Even dried, marjoram doesnít retain its flavor as long as other herbs. After about 3 months, it will generally lose much of its flavor and aroma.