Garden Talk

with Rebecca Jordi


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Q: What can you tell me about the herb marjoram?

Sweet Marjoram

Sweet Marjoram

A:  There are three kinds of marjoram commonly used as herbs: sweet marjoram (Origanum marjorana), pot marjoram (O. onites), and wild marjoram (O. vulgare) (see Oregano). Sweet and pot marjoram are the ones usually grown in herb gardens. The perennial plants are very similar, except sweet marjoram tends to grow upright while pot marjoram runs along the ground. 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. Marjoram attracts bees and flowers late spring to summer.  When planting pot marjoram, space the plants about 12 inches apart in the row, and sweet marjoram should be placed every 6 inches. Plants can be started early in the spring from seeds, cuttings, or clump divisions. The leaves are used fresh or dried; they are similar to oregano but more delicate. Marjoram is sufficiently attractive to make an excellent border planting for a flower garden. Aromatic qualities led to its historical use as a strewing herb which means it was spread across floors of homes and buildings. Marjoram has mild antiseptic properties and is often 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. Marjoram can be used to flavor stews, marinades, dressing, vinegars, butter, and oils. The plant can be grown in containers in cold hardiness zones 9-10, in full sun and well drained, slightly acidic soil. Dried marjoram can be added to herb wreaths, especially culinary wreaths. It is said to have some medicinal qualities. 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. For more complete information about growing herbs in Florida, read the University of Florida publication:  https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/VH/VH02000.pdf

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