Marjorams are generally used fresh, unlike their close relation oregano, whose leaves are more likely to be dried and stored. Most marjorams also have a more delicate flavour.
Leaves and flowering sprigs are popular in Greek and Italian meat dishes, soups, stuffings, tomato sauces and pasta, where they are best used towards the end of the cooking process. Leaves are used to flavour oil and vinegar.
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You can buy ready-grown plants from garden centres or start plants from seed.
Sow seed indoors from February to May. Fill a small pot with seed compost and sow a few seeds on the surface. Cover with a light layer of sieved compost, water and place in a propagator to germinate. When seedlings are large enough to handle, prick three out into an 8cm (3in) pot of multi-purpose compost.
Grow indoors until early summer or until all danger of frost has passed, then plant in a sunny, sheltered spot in well-drained soil, or in a container.
Water pots regularly, but avoid overwatering or the roots may rot.
Keep plants compact by trimming growth after flowers fade in summer, then give them a boost by applying a liquid fertiliser.
Plants do not like to be too wet in winter, so place pots in a sheltered spot and raise onto pot feet to allow excess water to drain away.
For a winter supply of leaves, lift plants in autumn, pot them up and place them in a well lit spot under cover.
Cut back dead stems to the base.
Look for colonies of greenfly on the soft shoot tips of plants or on leaves. They suck sap and excrete sticky honeydew, encouraging the growth of black sooty moulds.
Use your finger and thumb to squash aphid colonies or use biological control in the greenhouse.
Glasshouse red spider or two spotted mite
Leaves become mottled, pale and covered in webbing, on which the mites can be clearly seen; leaves also drop prematurely.
They thrive in hot, dry conditions, so mist plants regularly. Use biological control in the greenhouse.
Harvest marjoram leaves as required in summer – simply snip off a few shoots, then strip off the leaves. The flavour is best before the flower buds open.
Use the leaves fresh or dried. They can also be frozen in ice-cube trays.
To dry marjoram leaves, hang up sprigs in a dark, well-ventilated place for a few weeks. When fully dried, strip off the leaves and store in an air-tight jar.
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.