How to Grow Marjoram in Zones 9 to 11
If you live in a warmer climate, you may be able to get a root division from a neighbor. You can also plant marjoram directly into the ground when the soil warms up. Plant the cuttings or seeds in full sun where you want it to establish. In this climate zone, marjoram will grow for many years and will obtain optimal growth and vigour. A small bush may reach up to 18 inches in height, so consider its height when planning where to place it.
Consider planting marjoram between the rows in your garden or at the ends of raised beds. Marjoram is a companion plant that enhances the growth of vegetables. Prepare the soil before planting by adding fine grit or gravel to the planting bed to make the soil more porous, as well as by adjusting the soil pH with lime if your soil tends to be acidic. Marjoram doesn’t like its roots to stay wet, so put it in a well-drained spot.
Increase your plants with cuttings
Marjoram grows well from cuttings. To make root cuttings, cut several 4 inch long stem tips in July, before flowering, from vigorous marjoram plants. Remove all but 6 to 8 of the topmost leaves and push the cuttings in by half their height, into moist seed-starting mix, in pots. Place the pots with the cuttings in a shady spot. Keep them well watered. A new root system should develop in about 3 weeks. Transplant the new plants into 4 inch pots. In August, pinch back the tops to encourage branching. Bring the plants indoors before frost.
Marjoram will continue growing through the fall and winter, giving you fresh herbs to use in your cooking. Feed it with a balanced organic liquid fertilizer once a month while it is indoors to keep it vigorous. In the spring, take fresh cuttings and root them in moist seedling-starting mix and they will be ready to plant outdoors once all danger of frost has passed. In this way, you can maintain a variety of marjoram in your garden indefinitely.
Increase your plants by root division
Marjoram, when grown in zones 9 to 11, will grow to 18 inches in height and form a clump that is 18 inches in diameter. You can divide the clump in the fall of its second season to make more marjoram plants. To divide the clump, using a sharp spade, cut into the mound about 8 inches from the edge, severing the root runners. Leave the crown intact. If the plants are divided in fall, do not divide the clump again in the spring, as this will weaken the plant.
How to Harvest Marjoram
Sweet marjoram should be harvested just as the flowers begin to open. This is when the volatile oils are at their peak. Harvest by cutting the stems while leaving 6 inches of stem to continue to feed the root. In an extended season, you may get a second cutting before the plants die back with frost.
Preserve the Harvest
Marjoram can be tied in bundles, hung up, and dried in an airy room. Once completely dry, brush the flowers and leaves off the stems by hand and keep them in air tight jars. When stored in a cool, dry place, they will keep their pungency for a year.
Sprigs of marjoram can be place in bottle of cider vinegar to add its delicate scent and flavour to salad dressings and meat marinades.
If common marjoram is grown, a tincture of vodka and sprigs of common marjoram can be used for medicine in the same way that oil of oregano is used. Allow the plant material to steep in the vodka for at least 3 weeks before straining, bottling, and labeling for medicinal use.
Margaret Balitas, ed. Rodale’s All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, the indispensable resource for every gardener. Emmanaus, Penn: Rodale Press, 1992.
Gillian Haslam. The Herbal Yearbook. Surrey, UK: Colour Library Books, 1993.
Phyllis Shaudys. The Pleasure of Herbs, a month-by-month guide to growing, using, and enjoying herbs. Pownal, VT: Storey Comminications, Ltd., 1986.
Richters 2010 Herb Catalogue. Goodwood, Ontario, Canada.
Photo Credits: Starr Environmentals and FollowTheseInstructions on Flickr Creative Commons