A more delicate subtle cousin of the oregano family. Sweet Marjoram is similar to oregano, but it has a finer texture. The taste is described as being fresh and spicy with camphor-like overtones. It has a sweet aroma that is a mix of thyme and basil with a hit of spice. It's a must have herb for the kitchen where
it will improve almost any dish, if unsure what to use this is the one. Its
use is limited only by your imagination.
It's a tender perennial so its grown as a annual in many parts of the country. It likes a sunny location with well drained soil and frequent watering. However its trailing habit makes it an excellent choice for hanging baskets or planters and the sweet flavor is a welcome addition to any sunny deck or patio. The tiny flowers bloom for most of the summer months and the gray green foliage is a nice contrast to most garden plants.
Note: We sell three different kinds or Oregano, if intending for culinary use please choose the one that best fits your taste. Wild or Italian has a mild taste, Marjoram is stronger but still 'sweet' and Greek, which is very strong, and can sometimes be overpowering.
A tender perennial that is usually grown as a annual in zones above 7. Sweet marjoram is a shallow rooted bushy plant producing many branched wiry square stemmed branches up to 24 inches (60cm) long that have a coating of gray hairs. The branches tend to flop over to form a mound with the branches taking root when they hit the soil and so increasing the diameter of the mound. The leaves are small, round or elliptical, green and covered in gray down. Arranged oppositely on the stems each leaf can be up to one inch long. The flowers are tiny, produced in corymbs - slightly rounded domes at the ends of the stems - these can be branched and often have smaller flower clusters just beneath. Flowers are usually pink, or red and sometimes white and are produce from June through August or early September. Each flower is small fused together with three lobes at the base and one at the top. The unopened flowers resemble finely tied knots before opening. Since the stems tend to cascade Sweet Marjoram is an excellent candidate for hanging baskets and planters. The whole plant has a delicate spicy fragrance.
Location and Care.
Sweet Marjoram likes a sunny location but it can tolerate some light shade. It needs well drained soil with its ideal being a sandy loam with some good organic material, but it will grown in almost any soil that is well drained. It cannot tolerate heavy clay and waterlogged soils. It will tolerate a wide pH range from 6.1 - 8.5 but prefers fairly neutral soil. It does not like to dry out too much so it will need frequent watering as well as good drainage. Using a soaker hose around the plants is an ideal with of keeping them watered.
The location you pick will depend on your zone. For high number zones (9-11) something with a little mid day shade is good as it can get to hot, as the zone number decreases the plants will need full sun all day and shelter.
Sweet Marjoram makes a wonderful hanging basket or planter for the sunny deck. The stems will cascade down the sides of the pot and create a mass of gray green downy foliage. Water frequently and allow to dry out between waterings. Fertilize once a month. Plants can be brought into the house as excellent pot plants during the winter as long as they have a sunny location. Water less frequently during the winter and pinch back growth.
What zone will they overwinter?
What zone will overwinter Sweet Marjoram? Now that's a question. Looking at a lot of reference sources its all over the map. Some say as high as 6b (read 7) others say not above 9. We suggest that if you are in 7 or higher you try overwintering and see what happens. A lot will depend on the weather, mild winters things will most likely do fine, nasty cold winters and the plants will die. Pick a location that has full sun and some shelter, near a hedge or the house in a microclimate will help them stay warmer during the winter and may allow them to overwinter. Mulch plants well in fall to help keep them warm overwinter.
Sweet Marjoram is a slow starter. Although germination is usually 8-14 days in reasonable temperatures the little plants don't really grow very fast after that for quite a while. For this reason we suggest starting them indoors where they can be cared for and to save a lot of effort constantly weeded out the bed while the little guys think about getting started. Its fairly easy to grow but it takes a little more patience that some other plants.
The seeds are very small so follow our small seed instructions. Barely cover the seed. Transplant to individual pots once they are large enough to handle. Plant outside after danger of frost has passed spacing at about 15 -18 inches (38 - 45cm) apart. Plants can grow to 20 inches wide so they need a fair amount of room. If planting in pots use a good potting soil that is well draining or add extra sand or perlite to the mix to encourage drainage.
Leaves can be harvested from the plants as soon as they reach 6 - 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) tall. For immediate fresh use pinch or snip the ends of the shoots from the plant leaving at least two inches of the stem to encourage the plant to regrow and branch.
If harvesting for drying wait until the flower buds form then cut the whole stems down to within 4-5 inches of the ground. Bunch the stems and hand in a warm dry shaded or dark location to dry. Unlike many herbs, sweet marjoram's flavor becomes more intense when dried.
Sweet Marjoram is the must have herb of the kitchen. It improves the flavor of almost any dish and if uncertain of what to use this is always a good bet. It is deceptively potent, however, so use it sparingly.
The young shoots, leaves and flowers can be used as greens in salads and vegetable recipes of all sorts. It can be used in almost anything from pizza, sausages, pies, stews, stuffing omelets seafood and soups to name a few. In Germany its called the 'sausage herb' in France its an important part of bouquet garni. This herbs use is limited only by your imagination.
Sweet Marjoram was used by the ancient Greeks for a number of different ailments the most common being dropsy, convulsions, and poisons. Today many use a tea to help cure headaches, colds, nervous disorders, asthma, indigestion, headache, flatulence, epilepsy, and to help relieve the pain of childbirth. The oil is used in liniments to help rheumatism, sprains and bruses and to improve the circulation. The oil is used to help toothache and earache.
Amaracus, Annual Marjoram, Knotted Marjoram, Sweet Marjoram, Pot marjoram: rigani, common marjoram, dictamo, oregano, French marjoram, golden marjoram, curly marjoram, gold splash marjoram, and al maraco.