Marjoram

Marjoram is a cold-sensitive perennial herb or undershrub with sweet pine and citrus flavours. The botanical name of marjoram is Origanum majorana. In some Middle Eastern countries, marjoram is synonymous with oregano, and there the names sweet marjoram and knotted marjoram are used to distinguish it from other plants of the genus Origanum. It is also called pot marjoram, although this name is also used for other cultivated species of Origanum.



Marjoram is a bushy herbaceous plant. The square branching stems are densely covered with hairy ovate leaves, arranged oppositely in pairs. The pale two-lipped flowers are not particularly showy and are borne in small spikelike clusters. Marjoram contains about 2 percent essential oil, the principal components of which are terpinene and terpineol. Marjoram is perennial and can be grown for 3–4 years but is commonly grown as an annual in northern climates.


Table of Contents


Height(Avg)

1 - 3 feet


Width-Circumference (Avg)

1 - 2 feet


Approximate pH

6.5 - 7.5


Types of Marjoram


Marjoram comes in three varieties: sweet marjoram, pot marjoram, and wild marjoram. Wild marjoram is known as common oregano. You can use any of the variations in the kitchen as a seasoning for thousands of dishes, and all varieties have a beautiful scent. Centuries ago, marjoram was used to flavor beer before the discovery of hops.


A few varieties include:

  • French Marjoram: Origanum onites – This is hardy marjoram with mid-green leaves that turn to gold in the summer. It produces pink-white flowers. Add to pasta and meat dishes for more flavor.

  • Za’atar Marjoram: Origanum Syriacum - It is a wild variety excellent when used fresh in salads. It boasts a blend of flavors that include oregano, marjoram, and thyme. Height is 12-20 inches and should be grown in full sun.


  • Gold Tipped Marjoram: Origanum vulgare – As the name implies, this type features green leaves with gold tips and pink flowers. It tastes excellent in pizza and vegetable dishes.


  • Sweet Marjoram: Origanum majorana – This is a plant with silky green leaves and pink flowers. Use it in salads, sauces, and soups.


Planting Marjoram


When to Plant


Marjoram can be difficult to start from seed, so it's often best to begin with small plants from the nursery. Plant in the spring after the threat of frost has passed. If you want to start marjoram from seed, either direct sow in the garden about two weeks after your last spring frost or plant indoors about eight weeks before your last frost.


Selecting a Planting Site


The key to growing this herb is to plant it in well-draining soil and ample sunlight. Container growth also is an option. Keep weeds away from the marjoram, as they will compete for nutrients and moisture. And make sure no taller plants will leaf out and shade it in the spring.


Spacing, Depth, and Support


Plant seeds 1/4 inch deep, or situate nursery plants at the same depth they were growing in their previous container. Space plants about a foot apart. A support structure shouldn't be necessary.


Growing Marjoram


How to Grow Marjoram From Seed


Growing marjoram from seeds can be tricky. The seeds are slow to germinate, taking around two to three weeks, and they need warm soil. Starting seeds indoors usually is more successful than direct sowing.


First, soak the seeds overnight, which can help encourage germination. Plant them in a starter tray filled with moist seed-starting mix. Press them slightly into the soil. Place the tray in a bright location, and keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout. For best results, keep temperatures right at 70 degrees Fahrenheit until the seedlings develop their true leaves.


Harden off the seedlings before transplanting them outdoors after the threat of frost has passed. Seedlings should have at least three pairs of true leaves before transplanting. Gradually expose them to outdoor conditions for about a week until you permanently leave them outside.


How to Grow Marjoram in Pots


Container growth is a good option for marjoram if you don't have the garden space or can't keep it outside over the winter. You just have to give it enough light indoors. Use a container that's at least 6 inches wide and at least 6 to 8 inches deep. Make sure the container has drainage holes. You can aid drainage by using an unglazed clay pot, which allows excess soil moisture to evaporate through its walls.


Marjoram Plant Care


Light


Marjoram plants love sunlight. Aim to give them full sun, meaning at least six hours of direct sunlight on most days. If growing indoors, choose your brightest window. Or you can move the plant around your home to "chase" the light throughout the day to ensure it gets enough rays.


Soil


Plant marjoram in loose, sandy or loamy, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil pH. Good drainage is critical, as the herb is susceptible to root rot.


Water


Keep the soil for young plants lightly moist but not soggy. About 1 inch of water per week should do. Established plants have good drought-tolerance, though you shouldn't allow the soil to dry out completely. Avoid overhead watering, which can lead to fungal problems. And water early in the day, so any wet foliage has plenty of time to dry in the sun before nightfall.


Temperature and Humidity


A native of mild Mediterranean climates, marjoram plants grow best at temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, marjoram doesn't need high humidity—in fact, it really doesn't like it.


Fertilizer


While fertilizing your marjoram isn't a must, giving it regular feedings can help it grow more lush and full. If you choose to fertilize your plant, feed it once a month with a liquid blend formulated for herbs, following label instructions. Alternately, you can amend the plant's soil with organic matter to increase the nutrient density.


Pollination


Marjoram self-pollinates, and its flowers are highly attractive to bees and butterflies.


Harvesting Marjoram


It can take two to three months for your plants to be strong enough for harvesting. Snip off sprigs as needed, but don't take more than a third of the plant at once. You'll be able to take multiple cuttings per growing season.


Use marjoram fresh or dried. To dry sprigs, hang them upside-down in a cool, dry place with good air flow. Once the leaves are brittle, remove them from the stems to store in an airtight container. Keep in mind that the delicate taste of marjoram can get lost in some foods, so if you're using it as a substitute for oregano, add more than you would oregano.


Pruning and Propagating Marjoram


Pruning


Pinch back stems before flowers appear to encourage a bushy growth habit. Then, as marjoram starts to bloom, cut it close to the ground to stimulate new growth of more flavorful leaves.


Propagating Marjoram


Marjoram appreciates being divided, so it doesn't become too crowded. A nd a single plant can provide you with the herb for years to come if given the necessary winter care. Simply dig up the root clump of an established plant in the fall, divide it into pieces, and replant the pieces into separate pots or new garden locations.


Marjoram also can be propagated by cuttings, which is another way to create new plants for future growing seasons even if you're growing your marjoram as an annual. The best time to take cuttings is in the late spring to midsummer. Here's how:

  1. Cut a 4- to 6-inch piece of healthy stem.

  2. Remove foliage on the lower half of the stem, along with any flowers and buds.

  3. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone, and then plant the cutting in a small container of moist soilless potting mix. Place it in bright, indirect light.

  4. Keep the soil lightly moist but not soggy. Once you see new leaf growth and feel slight resistance when you gently tug on the stem, you'll know roots have formed.


Potting and Repotting Marjoram


Use a loose, well-draining potting mix for growing marjoram. You likely won't have to repot within a growing season unless you start with a container that's too small. However, it's a good idea to refresh the potting mix every two to three years. Gently ease the plant out of its container, shake off excess soil, and replant it at the same depth with fresh potting mix. If you see roots growing out of the drainage holes or up above the soil line, transplant to one container size up.


Overwintering


If you don't live within marjoram's growing zones, you can dig up and pot garden plants. Bring them inside before the first fall frost hits. But know that overwintering indoors isn't always successful, as marjoram needs lots of light and stable temperatures. Keep your plant away from any drafts. And consider grow lights if you don't have a bright window that gets several hours of sun per day.


Pests and Plant Diseases


Marjoram has few serious pest and disease problems when grown in the garden, though it can develop root rot in waterlogged soils.


But like many houseplants, it has to contend with a few common pests when grown indoors. Aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites can all be an issue for the herb. If you notice signs of an infestation on your plant, move it away from other plants as soon as possible. You can try manually removing pests by either rubbing them off or running the plant under a firm spray of water. If that doesn't work, treat the plant with insecticidal soap or neem oil.


Most diseases come about from too much humidity in the plant's environment. If the air outside or in your home is too damp, your plant might be prone to powdery mildew or botrytis blight.


Benefits of Marjoram


Apart from being a tasty culinary herb, marjoram both in its food and oil form has a number of excellent benefits for your health. It consists of numerous healthy minerals and vitamins and has a number of excellent medicinal properties. Among its many uses, marjoram can protect the heart, protect against diabetes and improve digestive health. Here are some of the most amazing health benefits of this herb:


1. Heart Health


Marjoram may be extremely beneficial for your cardiovascular health. It is a rich source of antioxidants that can help protect the heart as well as other major organs from disease. It is also able to relax and widen the blood vessels which helps reduce high blood pressure levels naturally.


Inhaling the essential oil either directly or from a diffuser can help calm down the body’s nervous system which helps dilate the blood vessels. This has a positive effect on the heart by lowering blood pressure and reducing strain on the heart.


2. Lowers high blood pressure


Studies have found that marjoram is effective in lowering blood pressure without affecting the heart rate. One way it does this is by relaxing the blood vessels so that blood flows through them easily. Marjoram also has diuretic properties, which increases the production of urine as well as the frequency of urination. As a result, excess water, salts and toxins are flushed out of the system. This also helps in lowering blood pressure.


3. Bone health


Regular intake of marjoram is a great way to boost the strength and health of your bones. This amazing herb provides about 520% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K, a nutrient that contributes to the development of healthy bones. Vitamin-K also plays a key role in building bone mass by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bones. By helping to build strong bones, this vitamin helps prevent the onset of bone disorders like osteoporosis.


4. Diabetes


Nearly 10% of the population of the United States has diabetes and there are no signs that the figure is slowing down. Fortunately, type 2 diabetes can be managed with good lifestyle choices and diet. Studies show that marjoram is an excellent choice for people trying to manage their diabetes. Marjoram along with other herbs like rosemary and oregano effectively prevent certain enzymes which improve insulin tolerance. Whether you eat the herb fresh or dried, it can be a great help to a diabetic patient’s ability to manage their blood sugar levels.


5. Helps with blood clotting and prevents anemia


Marjoram is an excellent source of vitamin K, which is essential for normal blood clotting to take place. Excessive loss of blood is one of the factors leading to anemia and clotting helps prevent heavy bleeding. Marjoram is also high in iron content, another nutrient needed for the production of hemoglobin. The consumption of marjoram ensures that your daily requirements of iron are met, which improves blood circulation and the transport of oxygen to all parts of the body. This helps in improving your energy levels and also in optimizing the functioning of various organs in the body.


6. Pain Relief


Marjoram essential oil is an excellent remedy for muscle pain, spasms and tension headaches. Combine a few drops with carrier oil and massage it into the affected parts of your body for instantaneous relief.


7. Digestive Health


Leaves of marjoram act as a soothing tonic that helps improve the performance of the digestive system. It can boost your appetite and promote digestion by stimulating the production of saliva and digestive enzymes. Marjoram also helps prevent the various digestive problems including flatulence, colic, constipation, indigestion and stomach infections. The regular intake of marjoram tea has been found to help people cope with eating disorders.


8. Boost immunity


Marjoram is an immunity booster because of the presence of nutrients like vitamin A and vitamin C, both of which also acts as strong antioxidants. Vitamin C strengthens the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells, which protects the body against the attack of foreign invaders like bacteria and virus. Vitamin A also plays an important role in supporting the healthy functioning of the immune system.


9. Healthy nervous system


Marjoram is one of the few herbs that support the effective functioning of the nervous system. Nutrients in the herb enhance brain activity and helps prevent damage to the nerve cells. Marjoram essential oil is known to soothe and calm the mind and alleviate disorders like anxiety, stress and depression. It is also used in the treatment of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.


10. Respiratory Problems


Marjoram essential oil can also be used to treat respiratory issues and the symptoms of bronchitis, colds and flu. It has expectorant properties that can help loosen mucus and phlegm in the respiratory tract. Try inhaling the oil directly from the bottle or applying a few drops to the cheeks and under your nostrils.


11. Stress and Anxiety


Marjoram especially its essential oil is an excellent remedy for relieving feelings of stress and anxiety. Many essential oils have a similar impact and signify a great natural alternative to the many popular prescription medications.


You can either diffuse it around the home and inhale its vapors or dilute it with a carrier oil to make a stress relieving massage. By helping relieve your tensions and anxieties, marjoram essential oil can also help improve your quality of sleep and ensure you have a more restful night.


12. Treats cold and cough

Marjoram is an age old remedy for treating the common cold, flu and coughs. It functions as an expectorant and helps to loosen phlegm and mucus, aiding in its expulsion.


Saponin found in this herb has decongestant properties and helps in relieving congestion in the sinuses and chest, providing immense relief. As a result, marjoram is often used in the treatment of respiratory problems like asthma, sinusitis, bronchitis and coughs.


13. Women’s Health


Marjoram has long been valued in women’s health. It can help to restore the balance of female hormones and to regulate menstruation. Not only does it help regulate the cycle but it also helps to relieve many of the familiar symptoms that women get during their monthly period and can also help treat the symptoms associated with menopause.

Because of its natural emmenogogue properties, it can encourage menstruation and has even been used to help nursing mothers produce more milk.


14. Skin Health


Leaves of marjoram as well as the essential oils obtained from it are often used in many skin products such as lotions, creams and soaps. This herb is packed with antioxidants, which can help prevent free radical damage. The application of a mixture of marjoram essential oil and olive or coconut oil is a great way to prevent the occurrence of premature signs of aging such as wrinkles, dark spots and fine lines. Marjoram is a natural antiseptic and is hence used as a remedy for various skin conditions such as acne, pimples, rashes, psoriasis and eczema. The antiseptic properties of this herb also make it effective in treating wounds and in preventing infection. Marjoram also exhibits anti-fungal properties, which helps in preventing fungal infections such as athlete’s foot.


15. Against snoring


The marjoram by-product, like its oil, helps eliminate snoring, as it promotes the respiratory system and calms the larynx. The aroma penetrates the body and tones the airways.


16. Hair Health


You can also add a few drops of marjoram essential oil to your regular conditioners or shampoo to help strengthen your hair and enhance its appearance. Marjoram essential oil can strengthen the follicles meaning your hair should grow back stronger and healthier.

The oil also contains anti-fungal properties which makes it a good natural option to treat common scalp issues like dandruff. It also smells great so give it a try.


17. Helps you stay young


Marjoram is a rich source of various nutrients that displays powerful antioxidant effects. One of the main factors that cause early aging is the oxidation of cells brought about by free radicals in the body. Antioxidants help in protecting your cells and DNA from the damage caused by these free radicals. The intake of foods rich in antioxidants such as marjoram is thus helpful in maintaining good health and youth.


18. Promotes better sleep


Majority of people around the world suffer from insomnia, the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. Good quality sleep is absolutely critical for maintaining a healthy body and mind. Marjoram essential oil is a wonderful remedy for people with insomnia, as it has the ability to soothe and calm the mind. It can release your mind off of stress and tension and provide a sedative effect. Few drops of marjoram essential oil on the pillow are all you need to drift off into a good night’s sleep.


Uses

  • The leaves of the marjoram plant are used fresh or dried as a herb in cooking.

  • Dried marjoram, its volatile oil and the extracts have been applied in the flavoring of various foods, particularly soups, sauces, meat, fish, canned foods, liqueurs and vermouths.

  • Dried flowering tops are used for sachets and potpourris.

  • Aromatic seeds are used as a flavoring in sweets, drinks etc.

  • Herbal tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves.

  • Marjoram is used for seasoning soups, stews, dressings, and sauces.

  • Fresh or dried, it is an excellent ingredient for pizza and pasta.

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