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Guide To Growing Marjoram In The UK

Marjoram is a useful herb to grow in the UK.

You can grow marjoram from seed or buy as young plants from reputable nurseries. This is a great way to really expand the selection of herbs that you cook with. In general terms herbs that grow well together go well together in cooking too! Grow your marjoram with thyme, oregano and rosemary, in a sunny spot with great drainage.

There is a little bit more to it than that, but not much!

marjoram growing from seed
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How To Grow Marjoram From Seed

  • Sow marjoram seeds indoors from February to May time.
  • You will need a heated propagator to allow for an even temperature of 70 F during germination of your marjoram seeds. Fill a seed tray with potting soil. Moisten the soil prior to the seeds being added. This stops watering from scattering the seeds.
  • Sprinkle the marjoram seeds on to the soil and then cover with a very fine layer of compost. 1/8 inch – 14 inch at most. Make sure the soil is finely sieved.
  • Marjoram seeds take around 14-21 days to germinate. Make sure to give them plenty of sunlight. In February in the UK this is a tough one and an LED grow light is a viable option, Amazon sells them here. You will need one with a timer for 16 hours of daylight to 8 hours of no light. This way the seedlings will start to grow well.
  • Once your marjoram seedlings are large enough to handle you can prick them out to around three in a 9cm pot (roughly 3in)
  • Move to acclimatize them to outdoors. Marjoram is generally a half hardy annual, some varieties are perennial, however care will be needed either way with younger plants.
  • Once the fear of frost has passed, May onwards, move them to their forever homes. Either in a pot or in a herb garden. Marjoram will need plenty of drainage and sunlight but struggles with heavy winds.
  • Harvest as you want through the Summer months. We find that marjoram does dry well and goes with other Italian herbs to make a great seasoning.

How To Grow Marjoram From Cuttings

You can easily buy plants from reputable specialist nurseries. Or you can over winter marjoram with relative success if you live further South. We find that ours do ok if left in pots by the sunny side of our house. We do have a greenhouse and on frosty nights it is a good idea to just provide them with that little bit of extra support.

  • You will be taking cuttings of your marjoram at two times each year, Mid Summer and the following Spring. This is to ensure a constant crop of fresh marjoram and no need to buy any new plants year on year.
  • Take cuttings between 3-4 inches in length. Choose healthy stems that do not yet show signs of flowering.
  • Remove the lower level of leaves, with around 8 top leaves remaining. You marjoram sprigs will take root quickly, so we do not want the lower leaves to rot and cause issues. You can eat those though, so harvest them away into a pouch for later.
  • Prepare a few 3inch (8cm) pots with a 50:50 mix of perlite to potting soil. This will allow moisture without water logged root systems, this is key to successful propagation with marjoram.
  • We use an organic rooting gel, available here. This is not essential and several gardening friends do not use anything at all, however we use it as a preventative to rot. We do not want to check on our marjoram cuttings and find in a few weeks time that the leaves are browning and falling off.
  • Make a hole in the perlite soil mixture with a twig first. Dip your marjoram end into the rooting gel, it is viscous and the marjoram is flexible so you need to guide it in.
  • Pop your marjoram stem into the potting mix and spray with a mister.
  • I would put as many as 4 -5 cuttings into each pot and mist well. Then cover your pot with a clear plastic bag, making sure to not touch your marjoram with the bag. This acts as an extra little greenhouse, but if you are taking cuttings in early spring you will need the use of a cold frame or greenhouse.
  • Mist regularly and if any signs of damage occur, remove that sprig of marjoram and keep an eye on the other cuttings.
  • After about three weeks your marjoram cuttings will have started to develop root systems. You can test this by performing a gentle tug test to see if a small amount of resistance is offered. Then you know you have had success. In Summer you can then transplant carefully to larger pots ready to grow on. Harvesting won’t be possible for another month or so. In the meantime keep pinching out regularly to encourage more bushier marjoram plants.

Marjoram will grow to 15 inches (40cm) in height and the spread is very much dependent on the variety and how much you prune it to encourage side growth. Water once the top of the soil is dry and more frequently if it is grown in pots. Marjoram does grow very well in pots, as long as there is adequate drainage.

You can add a liquid feed to your watering and marjoram does like a little Epsom salts mix. There are other solutions available including seaweed and even a nice borage ‘tea’ that we make into liquid fertilizer.

marjoram indoors in pots
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Growing Marjoram Indoors In Pots

It is possible to grow marjoram indoors all year round. This allows you to have a perennial herb garden in the UK. You will need a grow light if you don’t have a conservatory with 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. Make sure to have adequate drainage and stand the pot out of water to reduce risk of root rot.

You will also need to fight off common pests and diseases. A simple measure to follow is to keep an eye out for spider mite as they will start to make black spots appear on your marjoram leaves. So take a spray bottle and spritz the leaves regularly. This is more of a natural feel for your herbs anyway.

how to grow and dry marjoram
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How To Harvest And Dry Marjoram

At the start of Summer, before flowering really takes place, you can go hard and heavy with pruning your Marjoram. Wait until just before budding starts and take around two thirds of the shrub back. This will stop your marjoram from getting woody and make it even bushier.

Now you have sprigs of marjoram you can eat the leaves fresh or dry and store them.

With softwood herbs like basil or parsley we always recommend using a dehydrator to dry them out and minimize risk of mold developing. With your sturdy herbs that are more hardwood like oregano, marjoram and rosemary air drying is a suitable method.

Air Drying Marjoram

  1. Harvest all herbs after morning dew has evaporated but before the heat of the midday sun has taken too much in the way of essential oils.
  2. Wash harvested marjoram stems under running water. I always give them a shake prior to bringing inside, just to give the bugs a chance to run away rather than come inside for a shower.
  3. Dry the marjoram on paper towel to remove residual water from the tap.
  4. Gather about 8 stems together and tie loosely with an elastic band. I know twine looks the part, but you want a bit of air movement around where they are tied together just to avoid mold build up on your marjoram stems. A paperclip works well as a hook through the elastic band as well.
  5. Once you have them tied you will need an area that has free air movement and circulation, is free from direct sunlight and also warm. 21c (70F) of above for preference.
  6. Hang your marjoram up and check back each week. By about week 3 there should be a snap rather than a bend to the stalks.
  7. To store the leaves you can hold the end of the stem between thumb and fingers of one hand and then use the other hand to work against the direction of growth and remove the leaves. Do this over a muslin cloth as the leaves are prone to bounce around and you can gather the cloth up and deposit your dried marjoram leaves into an airtight container.
  8. Store your dried marjoram for up to a year in a cold, dark place, inside your airtight containers.

However if you have taken our advice regarding propagation by cuttings, you will have a lot of marjoram in one go. This is a very heavy time of year for fresh herbs and whilst that is great for our fresh cooking, having 40-60 different bunches drying at any time is hard to manage. Using a food dehydrator can be a life saver.

Using A Dehydrator To Dry Marjoram

  1. Harvest all herbs after morning dew has evaporated but before the heat of the midday sun has taken too much in the way of essential oils.
  2. Wash harvested marjoram stems under running water. I always give them a shake prior to bringing inside, just to give the bugs a chance to run away rather than come inside for a shower.
  3. Dry the marjoram on paper towel to remove residual water from the tap. You can use a salad spinner for this as it may slightly damage the leaves for air hanging but when popping into your dehydrator it doesn’t matter so much.
  4. Lay the marjoram sprigs in a single layer on each tray. You may still need to dry in batches but this will take a matter of hours rather than weeks.
  5. Set your dehydrator to the lowest heat, usually between 45-50C (110-120F), make sure you have a dehydrator with a timer, as you will set it for 2 hours but it could take up to 4 hours.
  6. You want your marjoram stalks to snap and not bend at all. This way you know that the leaves are dried as well.
  7. Store in a clean, airtight container. Keep out of direct sunlight and in a cool space.

Marjoram will keep for around a year when dried like this. For other ideas on storing herbs have a look at our free guide available here.

History Of Marjoram

Marjoram (origanum majorana) has been used for thousands of years through the Mediterranean and Asia. Marjoram is a major ingredient of the classic Italian herb mix that we all know and love.

Used as a symbol of happiness to the Ancient Greeks and Romans, Marjoram can flourish in the UK and colder climates with a little bit of care. Grown mainly as a culinary herb it was used extensively as a medicinal herb in the Ancient times. A sprig of flowering marjoram will look lovely in any posey.

Further Reading

What Next

We hope to have inspired you to start growing and harvesting your own marjoram crop. Thanks for reading and please do let us know how you get on with your own homegrown herb garden.

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