Common name: Marjoram, sweet

Scientific name: Origanum marjorana

Family: Labiatae

Uses: Aromatic, cosmetic, decorative, and medicinal.Aromatic qualities led to its historical use as a strewing herb. It has mild antiseptic properties and is added to herb bath mixtures. The leaves and flowers are used fresh or dried in cooking many foods, including beef, veal, lamb, poultry, fish, green vegetables, carrots, cauliflower, eggs, mushrooms, and tomatoes. It flavors stews, marinades, sautes, dressing, vinegars, butter, and oils. The plant can be grown in containers. Dried marjoram can be added to herb wreaths, especially culinary wreaths. It also is used to make olive green dye. It is said to have some medicinal qualities.

History: In ancient Egypt, marjoram was used in healing, disinfecting, and preserving. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was said to treasure this herb. The Greeks called this plant joy of the mountain and used it to make wreaths and garlands for weddings and funerals. During the Middle Ages, European ladies used marjoram in nosegays.

Description: Marjoram is similar to oregano, but it has a finer texture. This tender perennial has a dense, shallow root system and is grown as an annual. The square, branched stem has gray hairs. The tiny white, pink, and red flowers are knotlike and shaped before blooming in spherical clusters on spikes or corymbs. The pale green leaves have gray down. They are opposite, elliptical, entire, and 1/4 to 1 inch long. The seed is a tiny light brown nutlet.

Plant type: Tender perennial

Hardiness: Hardiness zones 9 to 10.

Height: 10 to 12 inches

Width: 10 inches


Soil: well-drained, rich soil with a pH of 6.9


Disease: None noted.

Cultivation: Take cuttings of new shoots (about 3 inches long) in late spring when the leaves are firm and will not wilt when placed in sand. Plant well-rooted cuttings in the ground about 12 inches apart or plant in pots outdoors. If seeds are used, sow in a seed-box in spring; then plant outside when the plants are 3 inches tall. Cut out old wood that becomes leggy at the end of winter, and replace plants every four years or so to prevent legginess.

Companion planting: Marjoram attracts honey bees and helps the garden. When grown near stinging nettle, marjoram's essential oil is said to become stronger.

Propagation: Seeds.

Flowering period: July to September

Flower color:


Garden notes: For a more dramatic effect, we grew these low plants massed along the garden border. We pinched them back several times to encourage bushier growth.