Pot marjoram is one of the many herbs that belongs to the Origanum genus and so has a flavour not dissimilar to the Oregano used ubiquitously and moreishly in pizza. It forms a decorative mound of small green, soft, aromatic leaves over the summer and a mat in winter. The summer flowers are small and pinky purple, standing proud of the foliage which makes for a really pretty plant.
A must have herb
Pot marjoram works well in a potager because it doubles up as a useful culinary herb for flavouring oils and vinegars for basting or using in salad as well as being one of the main ingredients in the traditional bouquet garni while also being beautiful to look at. Its mounded habit is very pleasing en masse and it can be used instead of or in addition to chives as an edging plant around borders - herbaceous or otherwise. Pot marjoram lends itself to being grown in a pot for the look of the thing but also for its practicality: anyone will have the space to keep it by the kitchen door/on the balcony/in the window box and know there is a ready supply of fresh herbs over the summer. An accommodating plant, it needs the minimum of care and just asks for a liquid feed of fertiliser after flowering. Pots should be protected against frost over winter and all plants cut down to about 6 cm from the soil. Trim after flowering to prevent it becoming straggly and pick the leaves fresh whenever they're around. The leaves can be frozen but the flavour is best preserved by dunking several sprigs in oil or vinegar and leaving them to macerate to impart their taste.
- Height: 45 cm
- Spread: 45 cm
- Colour: green aromatic foliage, pink/purple flowers
- Flowers: Summer
- Uses: culinary, herb garden, border edging
- Spacing: 25 cm
- Scent: aromatic, Mediterranean taste
- Habit: mound forming in summer, mat in winter
- Life: hardy perennial
The Marjoram/Oregano debate
Oregano became marjoram when the Romans brought it to Northern Europe as a preservative and disinfectant. Ever since then there has been much confusion over nomenclature as the herb has been taken around the world so, for example the New Englanders took common marjoram to America where it became known as wild marjoram. But for some reason after the 1940s it became known as oregano, while we call Origanumn vulgare which grows wild in Britain wild marjoram and in the Mediterranean countries they call it oregano. Hmmmm! Pot marjoram is related to the sweet marjoram (Origanum hortensis) that was included in nosegays in Tudor times to ward off pestilence and disease.