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Tarragon: Care and Growing Guide

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How to Grow Tarragon (Estragon)

Tarragon, also known as tarragon, is a perennial herb that you may be surprised to learn is part of the sunflower family. It is a popular aromatic flavor, especially in French cuisine. With notes of anise and vanilla, it goes especially well with eggs, chicken, and fish.

There are actually two types of tarragon. French is more readily available and has a stronger flavor than the Russian variety. The French variety (subspecies Sativa) is the one that our advice focuses on.

The plant has long, light green leaves and can grow up to a few meters in height. A single plant will generate a generous amount of leaves to harvest.

Tarragon is native to moderate regions of Europe. It is hardy and easy to grow in a sunny or partially shady location in well-drained soil. It thrives in spring temperatures and does not do well in excessively hot climates.

Botanical NameArtemisia dracunculus (Sativa subspecies)
Common NameEstragon
Plant TypePerennial herb
Mature Size24 inches
Sun ExposurePart Sun/Part Shade
Soil TypeSandy, well-drained
Soil pHNeutral (6.5 to 7.5)
Bloom TimeSummer
Flower ColorLight green leaves
Hardiness Zones4 and above
Native AreaTemperate Europe and Asia

How to Grow Tarragon

Tarragon may not be the most attractive herb, but it is tasty, easy to grow, hardy, and resistant to drought.

French tarragon produces sterile flowers, so it cannot be sown from seed in your garden. You will need to buy a young plant or obtain a seedling from a friend or neighbor.

Planting in early spring will help ensure the best flavor, and it's best to make sure your tarragon doesn't get too much direct sunlight in hot weather. You will also need to select sandy soil that drains well.

Light

French tarragon, unlike many other herbs, is not a fan of direct sun in hot weather. Full sun is good if you don't live in a very hot location, but otherwise select a location that only provides morning or morning sun. Warm, rather than intense, heat conditions are what this plant does best.

Soil

Tarragon does not like wet conditions. It is a drought-resistant herb and needs light, sandy, well-drained soil for best growth. Rich, acidic, and moist soil will result in poor growth, rotten roots, and reduced flavor.

Water

The amount of water you water your tarragon will depend on the weather conditions and the maturity of the plant.

Young tarragon will benefit from watering every other day if it experiences prolonged periods of heat and drought. Ripe tarragon, however, should be fine with light watering every few days.

These plants can survive in dry soil and care must be taken not to overwater as this will decrease growth and flavor intensity. Although tarragon survives in little water, if left too dry it can affect leaf growth.

Temperature and humidity

This hardy plant is not too fussy about temperatures. It can still grow if a cold snap hits. The main thing is that tarragon does not like intense heat and sun and does not do well in environments with high humidity.

In very cold climates, it would be best to mulch around the plant in winter to help protect the roots when they die again and go into torpor.

Fertilizer

Tarragon does not need fertilizers to work well. The best flavor is obtained when it is planted in soil with few nutrients. If you are using any, a general-purpose variety should only be applied at the initial stage of planting.

Propagating Tarragon

French tarragon can only be grown by propagation or by purchasing an established plant. This herb does not bloom much, and when it does, the flowers are sterile. If you get a stem cut from an existing plant in late spring or early summer, you will see good success.

For best results, select a young stem and cut a length of about five to six inches. Remove the leaves from the lower third. The stem can then be placed in moist potting soil after dipping in rooting hormone.

It is also possible to use root division techniques. It is best done in late winter. You can cut the root in half and plant the division in fresh soil in containers or directly into the ground.

Harvesting

As a perennial herb, French tarragon can be harvested until late summer (typically May through late August). You just want to make sure you stop harvesting leaves at least a month before the first frosts arrive.

You can start harvesting when the stems are about 6 inches tall. Keeping the top of the plant trimmed during the peak of the growing season will help ensure that harvested leaves retain their best flavor and promote thicker, more generous growth.

The leaves are best used fresh, but they also work well when dry, as long as they are not left for too long.

Being Grown in Containers

Tarragon can be grown in containers, but it usually only works for about two to three years as the coil roots grow quickly and then you will need to replant in the ground. Make sure the selected container is generous enough to accommodate the spreading roots.

You should wait until early spring before transferring any potted tarragon.

Allowing potted plants to cling excessively to the roots before dividing and replanting them will diminish the flavor, so don't want them until they're too far away.

Enjoy This Video Tutorial About Planting Herbs

Source: Rainbow Gardens

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