We’re always felt a bit coOriganum_vulgare_-_harilik_punenfused to on the subject of oregano verses marjoram, but I don’t feel too badly, because so are the botanists. Wild oregano (Origanum Vulgare) is the available plant that most closely resembles the stuff they put on pizza, though I am told the jars of oregano you buy in the market are really a blend of several different “Italian” herbs. Sweet marjoram has a milder flavor, and its botanical name is O. majorana or Majorana hortensis, depending on whom you talk to. The difference between the two plants is quite clear, though. Wild oregano is a big, sprawling thing that will make it through the harshest winter; sweet marjoram is a flower, more trailing plant which, though perennial, is not hardy except in warm climates. It has oval leaves and knot like nodes along stems, which is why it is sometimes called “knotted marjoram.” I grow wild oregano in the garden, mainly because bees and butterflies love its lavish display of pinkish flowers. For kitchen seasonings I am more apt to use my sweet marjoram, which does better as a potted herb than oregano. Moreover Oregano will grow in a pH range about between 6.0 (mildly acidic) and 9.0 (strongly alkaline) with a preferred range in between 6.0 to 8.0. The flowers are purple, 3–4 mm long, produced in erect spikes. It is sometimes called wild marjoram, and its close relative O. majorana is known as sweet marjoram.

 

How to Grow Oregano

Both oregano and majoram prefer full sun and light, well drained, slightly alkaline soil. Both benefit by being cut back, especially wild oregano, which should also be divided every few years after it becomes very woody. In addition to division, you can propagate from stem cuttings or from seed, though germination is fairly slow. Both oregano and marjoram have better flavor if cut just before they bloom. They dry very well hung upside down in a paper bag or in a dark, airy place. Crumble the leaves off the stems when they are completely dry.

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