Botanical Name Artemisia dracunculus (Sativa subspecies) Common Name Estragon Plant Type Perennial herb Mature Size 24 inches Sun Exposure Part Sun/Part Shade Soil Type Sandy, well-drained Soil pH Neutral (6.5 to 7.5) Bloom Time Summer Flower Color Light green leaves Hardiness Zones 4 and warmer Native Area Temperate Europe and Asia.French Tarragon produces sterile flowers, so it can't be sown from seed in your garden.Planting up in early spring will help ensure the best flavor, and making sure your Tarragon doesn't get too much direct sun in hot climates is best.French Tarragon, unlike many other herbs, isn't a fan of direct sun in hot climates.A rich, acidic, moist soil will result in poor growth, rotting roots and a reduced flavor.Young Tarragon will benefit from watering on alternate days if you're experiencing prolonged hot, dry spells.These plants can cope in dry ground, and care should be taken not to overwater as this will diminish growth and flavor intensity.In very cold conditions, you would be best to put mulch around the plant in winter to help protect the roots when it dies back and goes into dormancy.You could cut the root ball in half and plant the division in fresh soil in containers or directly into the ground.By keeping the flower buds trimmed back during the peak growing season, this will help ensure that any leaves harvested will retain their best flavor, and it'll promote the most generous and bushy growth.Letting the potted plants become overly root bound before dividing and replanting will diminish the flavor, so don't wait until it's too far gone. .
How to Grow and Care for French Tarragon
sativa A delightful and easy herb to grow for the kitchen garden, French tarragon has an appealing flavor similar to sweet anise and licorice.It makes a fast-growing and attractive plant in containers or herb borders, and features upright growth, slender green and silver leaves, and a distinct, appealing fragrance.The fresh leaves are used in a variety of dishes, such as those with eggs, fish, mushrooms, tomatoes, and poultry, and are noted for their use in French cuisine and sauces.And although its chromosomal profile shows it to be a sterile derivative of the Russian variety, A. dracunculoides pursch, the two shouldn’t be confused.However, its use in the kitchen is limited due to its bitter taste and musty aroma – although people from the Caucasus countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia use it to flavor soft drinks, cider, and tobacco.Mexican mint tarragon, Tagetes lucida, is an unrelated perennial native to Mexico and Guatemala and also grows from seed, with germination and growth habits similar to that of marigolds.Hardy only to Zone 9, the foliage has a distinct and rich licorice flavor very similar to true tarragon – which makes it well-suited as a culinary substitute in regions with intense summer heat.In comparison, the French variety has a much fuller flavor than the closely related Russian type, and is considered by chefs and home cooks alike to be of superior quality for culinary purposes.The fresh leaves are used extensively with egg, fish, and poultry dishes, and veggies such as mushrooms and tomatoes.sativa is one of the first herbs to break dormancy, sending up shoots in late winter or early spring.According to herbalist folklore, it was later brought to France in the 14th century by Saint Catherine of Siena, and quickly spread throughout Europe where it was grown in monastic gardens.Plants reach a height of 24 to 36 inches with a 12 to 15-inch spread, and quickly form robust clumps via root runners.The small cream or yellow flowers are insignificant and seeds are sterile, with propagation achieved vegetatively through root division or stem cuttings.An outstanding feature is that frequent pruning produces vigorous branching for a steady supply of leaves throughout spring and summer.Tarragon is a “nurse” plant considered to be beneficial throughout the garden, and can be used in herb knots as well as flower and vegetable beds.Pests, such as flea beetles and whiteflies, dislike the fragrance and tend to avoid areas where it’s planted.It’s also well suited to container growth, and makes an attractive and fragrant addition to kitchen gardens and patio pots.Plant the divisions in containers filled with fresh soil or directly in the ground as outlined in the How to Grow section below.Growth is most active in the cool temperatures of spring, and plants will appreciate some afternoon shade in summer’s heat when hot, direct sunshine can cause them to sag.Continue to harvest or clip the stems regularly to maintain lush, branching growth throughout the season.In late fall, clean beds and containers of any plant debris to prevent harmful pathogens from overwintering.Before winter, mulch the crown with a two- to four-inch layer of leaf mold or straw to protect against freezing temperatures.In late winter before new growth emerges, remove any mulch, cut back any remaining stems to one inch, and top-dress with organic material such as well-rotted manure or compost.Transferred by wind, leaves develop brown, white, or yellow spots with a fuzzy gray mold on the underside.Ensure proper air circulation and water plants in the morning, so that leaves dry by evening.It appears as small white or yellow spots that form orange or red pustules, causing deformation and defoliation.Remove and destroy infected leaves, and ensure plant debris is cleared away before winter sets in.Transfer frozen stems to a resealable plastic bag and remove excess air before sealing and storing in the freezer.When dry, crumble the leaves into a glass jar with a tight fitting lid and store in a cool, dark cupboard.Create your own herbed vinaigrette for salads and vegetables – and be sure to add a pinch of dry mustard for an unforgettable flavor.Add fresh leaves to roasted chicken, fish en papillote, a frittata or omelet, or as a pizza topping.And for a unique and refreshing drink, add a sprig to a cool summer spritzer or vinegar shrub.
Growing French Tarragon
In an herb bed, it becomes one of a cook's resources to create a memorable meal, but for the gardener, the ingredient is less remarkable.That means that new plants must be produced from rooted cuttings in order to have the classic tarragon flavor.Grown as a clump-forming perennial in most of the country, French tarragon thrives in regions where winter provides a period of rest and summers are not too hot or too wet.French tarragon has a fleshy root system that prefers a loose, soil enriched with organic matter.If your soil is heavy and your climate hot and humid, you will have the best chance of success by planting in a container or hanging basket where it drains well and has good air circulation.If your container plant turns brown and looks dead in winter, even if it is in your house or greenhouse, cut it back and give it time.Like most herbs, French tarragon is delicious fresh, but for winter the leaves need to be preserved.French terragon is a traditional seasoning with eggs, poultry, salads, cheese, and fish. .
Don’t let its reputation for being tricky to master scare you off; growing tarragon is actually easy once you know a few secrets about it.Unlike other herbs that can quickly take over your garden, tarragon keeps to itself and rarely spreads beyond its boundaries.But that’s no reason to stay away from this French favorite, as tarragon is delicious when cooked with eggs, poultry, fish, and cheese.When started correctly, tarragon will produce great smelling leaves for up to five years, ensuring your dinners are anything but bland.This herb grows best in full or partial sun, though it might require some shade protection in especially hot climates.Though its flavor profile pales in comparison to French, Russian tarragon is still a great choice if you prefer your herbs to be mild.Because tarragon tends to have a low germination rate, this ensures you don’t waste your time planting seeds that will never sprout.For best success, move your sprouted trays of plants outside after the threat of frost has passed and the temperature is consistently above 55 degrees F.Not only does this keep your tarragon toasty, it also ensures that you can move it where needed to get the maximum amount of sunlight to truly thrive.The fleshy root of the French tarragon plant enjoys loose soil where it can really spread out, but good drainage is essential.Once established, tarragon needs little babying and can even thrive in less than ideal conditions, including poor soil and droughts.The best method is to let the soil dry between waterings to ensure the herb can flourish without risk of developing root rot.In order to protect your plant through the winter, you can cover it with a thick layer of mulch in the fall to ensure it doesn’t suffer from frost.The main disease that tarragon suffers are usually caused by too much water, like root rot and powdery mildew.Harvest tarragon in the early morning for peak flavor, and be sure to use garden shears to make neat snips on plant stems that don’t leave an opening for diseases to come in.However, its flavor is lacking compared to French varieties and takes a lot to add a strong taste to recipes. .
How to grow and care for tarragon
Tarragon isn’t a widely grown herb at home, but it is well worth it especially if you like French cuisine, for which it is a popular and traditional ingredient.Tarragon is a perennial, and one plant will give you masses of leaves to pick over several years.Tarragon needs a sunny, warm and sheltered position to do well and produce strongly flavoured leaves.When seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant individually into small pots and grow them on in cooler conditions – around 10°C (50°F) – until large enough to plant outside after the risk of frost has passed, after hardening off – acclimatise them to outdoor conditions – for 7 to 10 days.Mix in more organic matter with the excavated soil and fill in the planting hole.Water in well and apply a light dressing of a granular general feed over the soil.French tarragon is not completely cold hardy and may need winter protection by covering plants with a cloche, fleece or straw.If growing in containers, move to a sheltered position – even a shed or garage – when the plant has died down during the winter months. .
Master Gardener: Find tarragon you can grow in Southern California
Q: I am interested in growing French tarragon and have had difficulty finding plants locally.A: French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) is a perennial herb that is propagated only by rooted cuttings.Over fertilization with nitrogen can result in overly-lush vegetative growth and decreased fruit production and quality.Organic supplements such as aged steer manure or compost can provide nitrogen with less risk of overdosing.Zinc deficiency is more common, and is first evident as loss of color between leaf veins.Potassium deficiency will show as deep red leaves and stunted growth.If you don’t see any of these deficiency symptoms, I would advise a yearly application of compost, lightly dug into the soil surface. .
Meet the herb of the year, Artemisia
There are many Artemisias, including the perennial dusty millers, sagebrush, mugwort and wormwood used to flavor the potent potable Absinthe.French tarragon is a classic herb used in cooking, especially with chicken, fish, stews or vegetables.Occasionally under the right conditions, the leaves may have a couple lobes at the end closest to the stem.Most books list the species as “dracunculus,” meaning little dragon and pronounced “dra-cunk-u-lus.” The roots are a tangled mess that resembles snakes.However, we know for a fact the above species was given to Russian tarragon, the true plant found near the Caspian Sea.If you put a leaf in your mouth, it almost tastes like grass mixed with alfalfa, not something you want to cook with.Those who grow French tarragon have no problems using the leaves, even going out to the garden, pulling off a leaf and chewing it.That’s followed by a numbing action on the tongue, which might not be so bad if you have to swallow something horrible like nasty tasting medicine or beets.Remove your hand from your nose and you’ll be overwhelmed with the taste and aroma of the herb.While the plant is classified as a perennial, the biggest problem is an extremely wet soil during the winter.You can cut the plant back by one-third and harvest the leaves by the middle of spring in most areas. .
Growing French tarragon in USA
It is frost tender - which may be one of the reasons that it is not particularly widely grown - French tarragon is easy to grow but rarely sets seeds. .