How to grow marjoram

Related to oregano, but with a milder, sweeter flavour, marjoram is an essential kitchen herb and the home gourmet’s best friend. Less hardy and more cold-sensitive than oregano, marjoram appeals to a broader palate and should be added to cooking at the last minute to maximise flavour.

What you need to know about marjoram

Name: marjoram (Origanum majorana), sweet marjoram

Height: 35–45cm

Foliage: evergreen perennial with small grey-green leaves.

Climate: prefers warm temperate and arid/semi-arid climates. In tropical and sub-tropical areas, grow in pots to protect from rain during the wet. In cold temperate areas, grow in pots to protect from the winter cold.

Soil: grows well in well-drained soils or premium potting mixes.

Position: full sun

Flowering and fruiting: small knots of white flowers are produced in summer.

Feeding: not required if planted in a soil enriched with compost and decomposed manure.

Watering: allow soil or potting mix to dry between watering. Do not overwater, especially during cool weather.

close up of marjoram leaves

Appearance and characteristics of marjoram

A cold-sensitive perennial herb, marjoram can be grown as an annual in cold climates or as an indoor plant if placed in a light position. Aromatic, and a versatile addition in the kitchen, this popular herb can be kept compact with pruning, and is suitable for gardens and pots.

Uses for marjoram

A Mediterranean herb, marjoram can be used fresh or dried to flavour a wide variety of dishes and cuisines, including pasta sauces and salad vinaigrettes. If using marjoram in cooking, add it towards the end to maximise flavour. Unusually, the dried leaves are almost identical in flavour to the fresh herb, so harvest at 4–6 weeks for maximum flavour, and dry for use throughout the year.

How to grow marjoram

  1. Marjoram can be grown from seed sown in late winter/early spring, but is usually available in small herb pots or punnets.

  2. Before planting out into the garden, water with a diluted seaweed solution to minimise transplant shock and give your marjoram the best head start.

  3. If planting into the garden, improve the soil with compost and decomposed manure prior to planting. If the soil is prone to waterlogging, raise it up to improve drainage. Make a hole and position your herb in the centre, making sure it is at the same level in the soil as it was in the pot.

  4. Backfill, mulch and water well to settle the soil in around the roots.

  5. If growing in pots, select a premium organic potting mix, preferably designed for herbs and vegies, and follow the same steps as above. Water and place in full sun.

Caring for marjoram

Marjoram is a low-maintenance herb. Once established, seasonal watering is all that’s required.

Marjoram is drought tolerant, but water a couple of times a week, more frequently in hot, dry weather. To improve cold tolerance, apply a seaweed solution fortnightly as the weather begins to cool. 

How and when to prune marjoram

Marjoram responds well to pruning. Regular pruning (or harvesting) helps to keep it compact, and stimulates more leaves and new growth—all the better for your harvest.

Diseases and pests

Snails and slugs can be a problem for germinating seed and young seedlings. Protect with organic pet-friendly snail pellets or traps. A popular companion plant, marjoram will be relatively pest- and disease-free once mature. Do not overwater, as this can lead to fungal problems and root rot.

How to propagate marjoram

Marjoram can be propagated by seed or cuttings taken in summer.

  1. Take tip cuttings around 6–8cm long.

  2. Pinch your fingers over the bottom half of the stem, then run your fingers downward to remove the lower leaves.

  3. Dip the base in rooting hormone or cutting powder.

  4. Fill a pot with cutting or propagating mix and insert 4–6 cuttings in each pot.

  5. Water daily.

  6. In 4 weeks, the cuttings should have developed roots and started to grow. Transplant into individual pots and pinch the top out of each cutting (the top four leaves) to encourage branching and compact growth.

  7. Continue to water regularly and treat with a seaweed solution until you are ready to transplant out into the garden.

Seeds can be collected from mature flowers. Allow the flowers to brown slightly, then remove and place in an open paper bag to dry. Once the flowers are dry, shake the bag vigorously to release the seeds. Store in a clearly marked envelope. 

If you like this then try

Oregano: a hardy herb related to marjoram, with a stronger flavour.

Rosemary: another drought-tolerant Mediterranean herb.  

Thyme: a ground-cover herb used in a variety of cuisines.

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