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Plant profile: Sweet Marjoram (Oreganum majorana)

The subtle taste of marjorum is likely to go unnoticed in spicy dishes but it is a great herb for use in salads, sauces, pasta, soups, and with many meats and vegetables. Sweet marjorum is related to stronger tasting oregano; both are in the mint family and belong to the genus Oreganum. Marjoram has a slightly citrus, minty flavor while oregano is more spicy and pungent, but they can substitute for each other as long as the cook remembers that oragano’s flavor is much stronger than marjoram’s. Marjoram is easy to grow and can be grown in containers with ample light.

Type: Tender perennial herb.

Bloom: Tiny pink or white flowers are borne in spherical clusters in August and September.

Foliage: Small (1/4-1”) pale gray-green fuzzy leaves are opposite and ovate.

Size: 12-24″ H x 12-18″ W.

Light: Full sun.

Soil: Fertile, light, dry, well-drained.

Hardiness: Zones 9-10.

Care: Pinch plants back just before blooming to maintain shape; later, after they have bloomed, cut plants back to 1” above the ground. Leaves can be harvested as soon as the plant has produced a dozen or more leaves. Marjoram is well worth drying as it maintains its flavor when dried, unlike many herbs. Dry leaf covered stems in the dark and then rub through a screen to separate the leaves from the stems.

Pests and Diseases: None of significance.

Propagation: Seeds, cuttings, division.

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