Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana) 甜马郁兰
Sweet marjoram is a shrubby tender perennial that grows to about 12 inches tall with wiry, red-brown stems and downy gray-green aromatic leaves. It produces tiny white flowers on clustered spikes in summer. Marjoram grows well in containers and inside as a kitchen herb.
How to grow
It is a zone 9 plant and is therefore grown as an annual in cold climates. It does well in a container and can be brought in for use during the winter. It hates winter wet and poor air circulation and likes a temperature of 70°F during the day and 60°F at nighttime. It likes a rather alkaline pH of 6.9, well drained to dry soil, and full sun. It grows quickly and should be pinched back often to remain bushy.
When growing from seed, sow it thinly and do not cover the seed, as it needs light to germinate.
Keep soil slightly moist during germination, it will germinate in 4 to 8 days. Temperature required for germination is 21 degree Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit). 12 to 15 inch spacing in rows about 12 to 18 inches apart.
Marjoram is cultivated for its aromatic leaves, either green or dry, for culinary purposes; the tops are cut as the plants begin to flower and are dried slowly in the shade. It is often used in herb combinations such as Herbes de Provence and Za'atar. It is also used in soaps, lotions and sachets.
The flowering leaves and tops of Marjoram are steam distilled to produce an essential oil that is yellowish in color (darkening to brown as it ages). It has many chemical components, some of which are borneol, camphor, origanol and pinene.