Marjoram – characteristics, cultivation and use

a marjoram plant
a marjoram plant

Marjoram is one of the most well-known culinary herbs and is used mainly for its strong taste with hearty food and stews. Marjoram is very closely related to oregano and, like this, is also considered a medicinal herb. The herb is cultivated in many gardens and balconies because of its undemanding nature.

Profile of marjoram:

Scientific name: Origanum majorana

Plant family: mint family (Lamiaceae)

Other names: sweet marjoram, knotted marjoram

Sowing time / Planting time: May – June

Flowering period: June – September

Harvest time: before flowering

Location: sunny locations

Soil quality: humus, loose and slightly sandy soils

These information are for temperate climate!

Use as a medicinal herb: upset stomach, intestinal complaints, irritable stomach, irritable bowel, nervous restlessness

Use as aromatic herb: potato dishes, sausage and meat dishes, soups, egg dishes

Plant characteristics and classification of marjoram

Origin and occurrence of marjoram

Originally marjoram comes from the Mediterranean areas of Anatolia, from where it spread to Europe until the Middle Ages. There it was then as today considered as a very popular spice and medicinal herb and is therefore grown in many countries.

In its original habitat, the plant grows mainly in sunny locations, which have rather flat and loose soils. Today it is also found in some parts of Central Europe wild.

Plant order of marjoram

Marjoram (Origanum majorana) belongs to the mint family and is closely related to many other well-known Mediterranean herbs such as thyme, rosemary or savory. The genus Origanum is currently assigned to about 40 species, including many cultivated forms. Known other species from the genus are the oregano and the Cretan dittany. The species known as wild marjoram refers to the wild form of today’s known oregano and is not to be confused with the herb described here.

Characteristics and look of the marjoram


Marjoram is a perennial herbal plant, which can usually reach heights of growth between 30 and 30 cm (12 and 20 in). The original wild form is only partially frost tolerant, which is why over time many hardy varieties were cultivated. The roots are flat but bushy anchored in the ground.


The opposite leaves are elliptic, 1 to 3 cm (0.4 to 1.2 in) long, on both sides very fine gray hairy and gray-green. They are filled with many glands.


The small flowers of the marjoram plant are mostly white to scarlet red and usually appear between July and September. The flowers sit at the upper end of the plant and are each arranged in ears.


After the end of the flowering period, small clumps of fruit mature from the ovaries, which contain small spherical and mostly brown seeds.

Marjoram – cultivating and care


If a herbal spiral is present, then marjoram can be planted together with other Mediterranean herbs as a planting partner. The herb should then be placed in the driest and warmest place, so that the natural conditions can be simulated as well as possible.


In the garden, marjoram requires rather light, nutrient-rich, humus-rich and well-drained soils. The plant loves sunny and warm locations. Freshly fertilized with compost or animal dung sites should be avoided when planting, otherwise much flavor can be lost and the roots can develop only insufficient.


The best sowing time for marjoram is mid-March to late May – on the windowsill or in the cold frame. Since the plant needs warmth, the average temperatures should be above 15 °C / 59 °F. The ideal germination temperature is 18 to 20 °C / 64 to 68 °F. Sow the seeds as evenly as possible and not too dense, and only thinly sift the seeds with sand, as marjoram is a light germ. After sowing, moisten the soil well. The seedlings should be in small groups with three to five small plantlets in individual pots, so they have enough space. The young plants can then go outdoors, if no late frosts are being expected. Plant the young plants at a distance of 25 x 25 cm (10 x 10 in) in the bed. From May, you can sow directly in the field. The optimal distance between the rows is 15 cm (6 in).

Tip: Marjoram is one of the self-incompatible plants, so you should not plant it in the same place again next year. Ideal is a cultivation break of four years – also to other plants of the mint family.


As marjoram grows slowly, you should occasionally hack to remove weeds and keep the soil loose. Longer dry periods do not bother the herb. A composting in the spring before planting is sufficient for the plant to provide it with sufficient nutrients during the season. In pot and tub cultures, a nutrient supply in the summer may be necessary, depending on size of the planter and how intensively the herb is harvested. A commercial herbal fertilizer is usually enough here.


Fresh shoots can be harvested throughout the summer, with the aroma of the leaves being spicy at the beginning of flowering to full flowering. To do this, cut off the whole shoots about 5 cm (2 in) above the ground and pick the leaves. Bunched together, you can also hang the herbs in an airy place to dry. The dried flower stems smell fine-spicy and can be used in potpourris. From the leaves you can also win distilled, essential oil.

the marjoram herb can be dried for conservation
the marjoram herb can be dried for conservation

Marjoram and its use

Marjoram is a popular spice herb and can be used in many ways. Also as medicinal and fragrance herb it is used in many places.

Marjoram in the kitchen

Due to the strong essential oils, marjoram is a strong tasting plant with a distinctive smell. It has a strong spiciness and should be used sparingly unlike many other herbs. The leaves are used for potato dishes, game and poultry dishes and for hearty stews. In addition, the herb is used as a flavoring agent for many sausages.

Many Mediterranean dishes and leguminous dishes such as lentils or beans can make a very interesting and tasty base with marjoram. In cream soups and stews it is often used in conjunction with sausage or bacon and can season spicy foods refined.

Marjoram can be used fresh, dried or frozen. Unlike many other herbs, it loses almost no aroma during drying. However, storage in aroma-preserving vessels is recommended. Rarely used, but still highly recommended, is the herb pickled in neutral oil (eg. olive oil). This can be used well for salads or pastes.

Marjoram as a medicinal herb

Marjoram is not only known as a spice herb, but also as a versatile herb. Like many other Mediterranean herbs, the plant contains many medically valuable ingredients, which e.g. can help with indigestion.

The main effect of marjoram is the strengthening of digestion, which is why it is also so popular as a spice. It helps to digest fat foods, against flatulence, loss of appetite and cramps of the digestive organs. Also, against sea and motion sickness one can use it. You can take the herb along with the meal, or you brew a tea or take it as a tincture.

Marjoram can also help against diseases of the respiratory system. It frees the breath when you have a cough and relieves colds. You can also use it for a cold.

Due to its relaxing and calming effect, marjoram also has a beneficial effect on the nervous system and its disorders. It can be used against nervous restlessness, headaches, migraines and insomnia. Folk medicine even uses it for epilepsy.

Used externally, the marjoram helps against wounds, itching, rheumatic pains and varicose veins.

For this you can prepare an oil extract from the fresh herb and use for rubbing.

Traditionally, marjoram powder and butter are used to prepare an ointment, which is used to massage babies suffering from abdominal pain and to rub them into the nose as a cold sore, both in babies and in adults.

Marjoram can be used for these ailments and diseases

  • asthma
  • badly healing wounds
  • bloating
  • cold
  • constipation
  • cough
  • chronic cold
  • diarrhea
  • dyspepsia
  • eschar
  • gout
  • headache
  • indigestion
  • insomnia
  • intestinal colic
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • itching
  • loss of appetite
  • migraine
  • neurasthenia
  • rheumatism
  • seasickness
  • sniff
  • stomach colic
  • stomach cramps
  • strengthening menstrual
  • varicose veins
  • whooping cough
  • wounds

Medicinal properties:

  • antibacterial
  • antispasmodic
  • diuretic
  • expectorant
  • reassuring
  • sweaty
  • toning

Preparation of marjoram tea

Marjoram tea may be used for gastrointestinal complaints, flatulence or colds.

Time needed: 7 minutes

This is how to prepare a marjoram tea by yourself

  1. put 1 to 2 teaspoons of marjoram in a tea strainer in a cup

  2. dash with boiling hot water

  3. let steep for 5 to 7 minutes

  4. drink one to two cups a day

Side effects

Marjoram should never be used for more than two weeks, as frequent and long-term use may cause headaches. In pregnancy, marjoram, especially the essential oil should be avoided as it can stimulate the mother.


Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Visiting this page can not replace the visit to the doctor. For serious or unclear complaints, consult your doctor.

Buy Marjoram – What is there to pay attention to?

Marjoram can be found in many supermarkets, discounters and online shops. If you want to buy fresh and good marjoram, you should be careful to buy plants with strong stems and well-formed leaves. Highly bred plants are usually overfertilized and have a comparatively weak aroma. In addition, they are only for a short time to use and usually die after one to two weeks.

For dried marjoram, the quality depends on the starting crop as well as the storage time. Even if marjoram keeps its aroma for a long time, it gradually loses it. It is important that the packages are flavor-sealed and the filling time should not be too long ago.

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