Marjoram is popular with Germans, especially in sausages. The marjoram can season a lot more, many hearty German dishes and many Mediterranean dishes, and tender, fresh marjoram can also shine in gourmet cuisine. Reason enough to grow the marjoram in your own garden so that it is always fresh to hand. Find out below how to care for, harvest and dry marjoram.

Growing and location of marjoram

Marjoram comes from Asia Minor (the area around Cyprus and Turkey) and has long been adopted in all Mediterranean countries, where it has been in demand as a spice since ancient times. Later, the “Wurstkraut” began to be grown in the climatically not so spoiled countries of Europe, which is not always good for the seasoning (more on this below). Because marjoram needs warmth to develop its full aroma, once you have smelled fresh marjoram from Cyprus, you will know how much more aromatic the marjoram grown in warm countries is.

In its homeland, marjoram grows under rather barren conditions, but also likes to grow in the most nutrient-rich soil the area has to offer. Cyprus’ soil is considered to be quite fertile. So it grows in soil that we would rather call lean, sandy soil with a little humus is fine with it. The main thing is that there is enough sun – the sunniest location in the garden is just right, ideally also well protected from the wind. If a marjoram were banished to the penumbra with us, something would probably come out that tasted a little like grass.

No marjoram should have been grown at the site in the last season, it is self-intolerant. So self-indulgent that it is recommended to take a three to four year break from growing marjoram at this location. How are you supposed to do that? You don’t have any agriculture on your doorstep, do you? You don’t need to, because you don’t need to plant a whole bed with marjoram, you could probably only accommodate such a marjoram harvest at the next weekly market, or you can dry marjoram for the next few decades. It is better to only grow marjoram in one spot and move it a little further for the next year.

Marjoram’s need for warmth also determines when we sow it, marjoram also wants to be sown in warm soil. No matter where you live in Germany, it is best to wait until after the ice saints in mid-May to sow marjoram. Marjoram is sown superficially, it is a light germ; if wind comes up at the chosen location, you should fix the seeds to the ground with a very fine spray from the garden hose.

Prefer marjoram? If you could do that, you could harvest earlier, but that has to be done in a warm greenhouse. You can, however, do without it, as you will quickly see when you calculate the “path of marjoram” from sowing to harvest: You sow on May 15th. With a germination time of 10 to 12 days – we calculate two weeks to be on the safe side, because this germination time assumes a permanent soil temperature of 18 to 20 degrees – the seedlings should start growing at the beginning of June. It then takes about two to two and a half months for them to develop sturdy branches that you can harvest. That is then the beginning to the middle of August, a marjoram sown after the ice saints spends its main growing season in our earth when it is warmest.

Of course, that doesn’t say whether the marjoram will get enough hours of sunshine …

Growing annual or perennial marjoram

Therefore, in Germany, the real, wild form of marjoram is rarely grown, but the cultivated form of marjoram, Origanum hortensis. Which breeders (and most of the literature) claim is considerably more aromatic than the wild form. The Origanum hortensis is mostly grown and sold as an annual garden variety, and it should only develop its characteristic strong scent in a particularly sunny location.

The original wild form, the marjoram Origanum majorana, on the other hand, is perennial. The herb, also known as the winter major, is cut back in late summer and covered in the first winter, after which it should be winter-proof to minus 20 degrees. In return, it should develop a lot less aroma in our part of the world.

But that is not necessarily an argument for the German home gardener to choose the annual variety. Especially when you have fresh marjoram available from the garden, in the case of marjoram you are more likely to have to struggle with too much aroma than with a lack of it: A few leaves are usually enough to season a dish (and one more tastes good) penetrating). Then you could also opt for the perennial, more easily grown and cared for marjoram, of which one more leaf or stalk goes into the saucepan. Perhaps you also consume more of the countless secondary plant substances, which science can only name a tiny part, but which as a rule prove to be very useful for maintaining our health …

Pflege des Majorans

The actual care of the marjoram is no longer a secret, if it likes its location, it will grow all by itself.

You should certainly not let the newly germinating young plants dry out, if the herb is a bit older then it will survive a dry day. Then you have to make sure that the marjoram is not too moist, then the roots tend to rot.

You do not need fertilization at all, if the soil is very bad you could only add a little compost every now and then. Synthetic fertilizer is more likely not to get the marjoram, it is quickly overfertilized and then develops beautiful, large leaves with zero aroma.

If there is too much growth between the marjoram, you should rid it of this competition by weeding the bed once in a while.

Harvest marjoram

Before flowering, you can harvest a few leaves of fresh marjoram whenever you want to use it in the kitchen. Under strict “aromatic criteria” you should even use as much of the marjoram fresh as possible, in this form it is far more aromatic.

Most of the literature on marjoram says that you should complete the harvest before flowering. If you want to follow this recommendation, you will be able to harvest fresh for a good month after harvesting, until the flowers just start to open. Then you would have to quickly harvest the whole stems to dry them.

Nobody forces you to do this, however. First of all, it is not that the marjoram leaves become poisonous all at once as they flower. Before flowering they only have a higher content of essential oils, shortly before flowering this is highest. Secondly, it is also not the case that the marjoram blossoms are inedible; in professional cultivation, marjoram for drying is always harvested with leaves and stems, buds and flowers, simply the whole branch.

Rather, the following happens: The essential oil content is highest shortly before flowering because these essential oils migrate from the leaves into the flowers from now on. You have certainly heard of this phenomenon, if only in connection with perfume making, where jasmine and rose, orange blossom and lotus blossom provide the concentrated aroma in them.

Exactly the same thing happens with marjoram, so you can just let your marjoram continue to grow, in total the harvested aroma will remain about the same. And of course you can also cut the flowers separately to add an edible decoration to a special dish.

Whichever month you harvest, try to do it on a sunny day if possible, especially if you want to harvest larger quantities for preservation. If you rinse off the herbs in the morning with a fine spray, they will be nice and clean when you pick them up. You should not harvest until late morning, when the herbs are dry again, but before the midday heat, at this time the herbs have the highest aromatic content. You can use scissors or a knife, the main thing is that it is sharp, and during harvest you should only cut enough off the stems from time to time so that about half of the leaves are still on the remaining twig, then the plant can regenerate itself best.

Dry marjoram

To dry the marjoram you can harvest the whole stems at the same time of day and in the same way as described above. The best thing to do is to find the containers in which you want to store the dried marjoram later and cut the stems to the length that will fit in the storage containers. The storage vessels should ideally not let light through, so the aroma of the herbs is preserved for a long time.

The branches should then be hung upside down and in an airy space. How long the herbs have to dry exactly depends of course on the existing moisture content, with the type of harvest suggested above, the drying time should only be quite short, so that a maximum of aroma is retained. You should then check more often whether the herbs are dry, this could be the case if the herbs rustle when you touch them. You can now break through one of the stems, if you can no longer see or feel any traces of moisture at the break point, the herbs are dry enough for the storage containers.

A nice alternative to drying is soaking in oil, which is usually more recommended for Mediterranean herbs than freezing. All you need is a bottle of olive oil, take a little oil from it (or wait until you have used it), and then put as many branches of marjoram as possible in the bottle. Tweezers can help, the branches must be completely covered with oil. This mixture will now stand for a few weeks, you should shake the bottle once a day. If the aroma oil has passed the odor test, wipe the oil off with a wide-meshed cloth, wash the bottle briefly (or use another one) and pour the oil back into the bottle without the organic parts of the plant.


Marjoram is grown quickly, and fresh or freshly dried marjoram from the garden really has little to do with the stale dry mix that gives some bratwurst a penetrating, intrusive taste. If you are keen to experiment, you will have a lot of fun with the fresh marjoram from the garden.

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