How To Grow Tarragon

Tarragon, also known as the ‘dragon’ herb, is a popular tastemaker that is widely used in the French cuisine. Besides its culinary uses, it contains a variety of nutrients and essential oils which may be beneficial to your health. Although French Tarragon is by far the most popular variety, there are also the Russian ‘false’ Tarragon and the Mexican mint Tarragon.

Getting Started Growing Tarragon

Tarragon branches freshly harvested
Fresh harvest of Tarragon

Tarragon is a perennial plant that grows best in areas where summers are mild. It is very hard to grow from seed and plants are usually propagated through root division or stem cuttings. Although the Russian variety will have a higher succes rate, you’ll be better off buying young plants from the store.

Tarragon is best planted in the spring and will grow until late autumn or early winter, depending on the weather conditions. It can survive up till USDA zone 5 (United States Department of Agriculture hardiness zone), or even zone 4b when winter protection is provided.

To get started, plant the Tarragon 2 to 3 feet apart. It has a very robust root system that spreads rapidly. Therefore, consider reserving a dedicated spot for your plant or place it in a pot. It grows best in well-drained soil with a neutral PH value and prefers a sunny, but sheltered place in your garden. They could also be placed inside near a window, but make sure the plants get enough sunlight.

During the winter, Tarragon plants will go dormant. When this happens, cut the stems down to three inches. The next year, the plant will start to grow again. You can do this for 2 or 3 years, whereafter it is best to transplant part of the plant to a new pot. If this is not done, the plant will become root bound and the leaves will start to lose their flavor.

Harvesting your Tarragon

When your leaves are about 6 inches tall, you can start harvesting the leaves. For the best flavor, harvest the leaves in the morning or evening. When your plant is still young, start with the top leaves. Once the plants grows larger, you can start harvesting more leaves at the time by cutting your stem back to about 6 inches. This will allow the plant to direct its energy towards growing new leaves. . For the same reason, it is best to remove any flowers that might grow.

It is fine to freeze Tarragon for a later time. To store it in the fridge, put the your leaves in a glass of water or store it in a container wrapped in a moist paper towel. Or, of course, you can share it with your friends and family!

Culinary Uses

Tarragon leaves are widely used in the kitchen for its bittersweet flavor. It has a taste that is very similar to anise and licorice. A popular ingredient in the French kitchen, it is often found in vinegars, oils, marinades, or as a tastemaker in salads. It also goes well with fish, meat, or as part of a soup or stew and it sets off well against the flavor of tomatoes.

Health Benefits

Besides having a delicious taste, Tarragon also has several health benefits. It contains a variety of nutrients and essential oils that may be benificial to your health. It is an excellent source of vitamins, mainly vitamin A, B and C is rich in anti-oxidants and contains several essential oils. Tarragon is also a good source of magnesium and potassium, nutrients that are very beneficial to your heart and may help with high blood pressure. If you are suffering from indigestion (burping, hiccuping or flatulence), Tarragon may help settle down your stomach.

All in all, this herb is a very nice addition to your garden and is easy to maintain. Although it prefers sunlight and regular watering, it is a vigorous plant. It will likely survive even when you might forget about your plant, so Tarragon is a great choice if you are starting out growing your own herbs.