Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana)

Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana)

Marjoram is a highly perfumed herb with thick trusses of dainty white or purple flowers which make it a highly decorative herb that is suitable for the flower garden. In warmer climates it is a perennial, but it is treated as a half-hardy annual in colder areas since it will not survive a severe winter. Plants grow to 1-2 feet with a spread of about 8 inches. Flowers are tiny but plentiful and grow in clusters around the stem.


Plants may be grown from seed or started from summer cuttings. Roots may be divided in the fall. When grown from seed, it should be started indoors or in cold frames in early spring. Transfer outside when temperatures aren't expected to drop below 45 degrees. To keep the plants neat, cut out all dead wood and remove dead flowers and stalks.


Begin harvesting the leaves and stem tips when plants are 4 to 5 inches high. The flavor will improve after the flower buds form, just before flowering. To harvest, cut the stem tops down to the first two sets of leaves. New stems and shoots will grow, producing second and sometimes third crops. Dry the leaves in a warm, dry, shaded place, and store them in an airtight container.

Culinary Uses

  • The leaves can be dried or frozen for culinary use.

  • Add fresh leaves to casseroles just before serving for the best flavor.

  • Use fresh leaves in sauces, stuffings, sparingly in salads, in egg and cheese dishes, chicken soup, stews, and in fruit salads.

  • Add a sprig of marjoram to a mixed herb tea.

Other Uses

  • The flowers dry well for decorative arrangements or potpourri.

  • Makes an effective home insect repellant.

  • Often used in herbal sleep pillows.

  • Marjoram makes a fragrant bath herb.

For more information about marjoram and some teriffic recipes see Leigh Abernathy's article Switched at Birth.

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