By Avis Licht
It’s been confusing to a lot of people for a long time. What is the difference between Marjoram and Oregano? Not exactly a life changing question, but certainly one that (at least some) gardeners need answered.
The oregano tribe includes plants that are called both marjoram and oregano. Both are from the Mediterranean area and are attractive to bees and butterflies. Sweet marjoram (Oreganum majorana and O. hortensis) grow in zones 8-24. It has a mild flavor. You can use both the leaves and the flowers in cooking.
Grow all varieties in full sun with good drainage. You can plant most of the year from plants or propagate by division from older plants. If you live in a very cold climate, with snow and long lasting frosts, this plant can be grown indoors in pots on a sunny windowsill. Choose a compact variety if you grow it in a pot. ‘Country Cream’ or or ‘White Anniversary’ are good for pots.
As with other Mediterranean herbs, this one does not need much water or fertilizer. Gardeners often make the mistake of giving too much love to their plants. Herbs in particular do not need to have high levels of nitrogen in the soil, or too much moisture. These will dilute the flavor of the herb.
A beautiful form of Oregano is the variegated leaf, ‘Aureum’, ‘Aureum Crispum, or Oreganum variegatum. In the edible landscape it’s good to combine both qualities of beauty and practicality.
If you decide to grow your herbs in pots, you might consider using self watering planters. They have a reservoir at the bottom, that wicks up into the soil. It keeps the plant moist, but not too wet.
For those of us who can’t grow a house plant for the life of us, this is a definite must have. These planters, are also great outdoors. If you have a sunny protected south wall, you can grow many herbs outside, even in cold climates. It doesn’t hurt to try.