Sweet marjoram, a low-growing plant native to the Mediterranean, makes a pretty summer groundcover or edging. A subtly coloured plant, marjoram has thin, gray-green leaves and, in early summer, small knot-like flowers along the stem ranging in colour from lilac to white. It grows well in the garden or in containers, and you can plant a nice kitchen window box using marjoram with parsley, basil, and summer annuals.
Soil, Planting, and Care
Plant sweet marjoram in the spring once there is no longer threat of frost. Sweet marjoram is slow-growing, so you will want to start with young plants instead of seed. Plant them 12 inches apart in full sun in rich, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.7 and 7.0, adding a slow-release fertilizer to the soil at or before planting. Continue to fertilize throughout the growing season with Miracle-Gro® Shake ‘N Feed® Tomato, Fruits & Vegetables Plant Food. Sweet marjoram will grow to about 12 to 24 inches tall. Be sure to trim plants when buds appear (and before they flower) to ensure continued growth.
If you live north of zone 7 and want to continue growing marjoram after it turns cold, take cuttings from late spring to the middle of summer to keep in indoor pots for the winter. Otherwise, lift plants in the fall. Marjoram may also be divided in the spring or fall to begin new plants.
Note that the care of sweet marjoram differs depending on your location. In zones 9 and 10, sweet marjoram is perennial, but you might need to use mulch for protection in winter. Marjoram in zones 7 and 8 must also be mulched in winter, and even then there is no guarantee it will survive the cold weather. Marjoram should be grown only as a summer annual in zones 6 and colder. However, in south Florida, marjoram is a winter annual, which means that it will not endure summer heat and humidity.
Water the plants during extended dry spells, but be sure not to over-water, as sweet marjoram likes a slightly dry climate.
Sweet marjoram, used lightly at the end of the cooking process, adds a nice, mellow flavour to vegetables such as spinach, beans, peas, and carrots. It is good in salads and herbed butters, as well as in vinaigrettes.