Marjoram and its close cousin oregano are pretty plants and well worth growing as an edging in the flower border as well as alongside alpine plants in a rock garden or a container.
As well as the delicate leaves, which come in shades of green and gold depending on the variety, the little flowers in shades of purple, pink and white, are highly decorative.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare) and pot marjoram (O. onites) are essential herbs for the kitchen and very easy to grow.
Although they originate mainly from the Mediterranean, many, including the above are reasonably hardy and O.vulgare is found growing wild in parts of the British Isles.
There are lots of others to investigate however including the golden marjoram ‘Aureum‘ and ‘Greek‘ oregano which has felty grey-green leaves.
Common oregano (O. vulgare) can be grown from seeds and these are sown in the spring.
The seeds are tiny; sow a little pinch into each cell of a cell tray making sure that the compost is thoroughly watered beforehand.
Mist over thoroughly before covering with a propagator lid (do not cover the seeds with compost) and placing in a propagator heated to 15C (60F).
Check every day to ensure that the tiny seedlings do not dry out and uncover once the majority have come through the compost.
Germination can take several weeks so be patient and keep the watering going. In this way you will not need to prick out the little plants and can grow the cluster of seedlings on as one rootball.
Growing in pots
Once the plants are well established they can be moved on as one and either planted outdoors where they are to grow or potted into larger pots and grown in a sunny spot on the patio.
The yellow-leaved form, ‘Aureum‘ is best grown in semi-shade to prevent the leaves from becoming ‘bleached‘ in the sunshine.
Otherwise, choose a site in full sun and in all cases well-drained, but moisture-retentive soil is essential. Mulching plants with a layer of fine grit can help to keep winter wet from around the crown (middle) of the plant.
Most other types can be propagated using cuttings in the spring, root cuttings in late summer or by dividing established clumps, also in the spring or the autumn.
Both oregano and marjoram thrives in a pot on a sunny, sheltered patio.
This is also the perfect way to grow the types which are not completely hardy in our climate since they can be very easily moved into a frost-free greenhouse, polytunnel or conservatory for the winter months.
If possible use a loam-based compost such as John Innes no 2 or 3 to pot your plants as this is better drained and able to sustain plants for longer.
After flowering, give plants a haircut to remove the spent blooms and feed with a liquid fertiliser.
Sweet marjoram O. majorana has been used for many medicinal purposes including colds and headaches and for rheumatism; also to aid sleep and to soothe frayed nerves.