When first determining how to grow tarragon, there are various types one must consider. There are three main types of tarragon, the popular French tarragon, (Artemisia dracunculus), the least desired Russian tarragon (Artemisia dracunculoides Pursch), and lesser-known Mexican tarragon (Tagetes lucida).
French tarragon is highly prized for its rich licorice-anise flavor. Russian tarragon flavor is not as robust and the least desired. The Mexican tarragon closely resembles the flavor of French tarragon and anise, but also with a touch of mint and cinnamon. Success on how to grow tarragon with preparation, planting, awareness of pests, awareness of disease, harvesting, and caring for tarragon is key for a healthy garden.
Each tarragon type prefers direct sunlight, well-aerated soil, and a well-drained environment. They all fare well in drought, but Mexican tarragon does best in southern US locations with drought, heat, and humidity. Russian tarragon grows to about 5 feet while Mexican tarragon grows as a 2-3 feet tall bush with small golden-yellow flowers. French tarragon, also called “a chef’s best friend,” grows 2-3 feet with a 12 inch to 15 in range and propagates from a parent plant. The Mexican and Russian tarragon types can both grow from seed. However, Russian tarragon labeled and sold as French “tarragon seeds” is common in many stores but incorrect.
Preparing the Beds
When considering how to grow tarragon, bed preparation is vital. Select a place with at least six or more hours of direct sunlight and a neutral pH (about 6.5-7.5pH). Make sure to clear the soil of weeds, sod, or any other impediments. You may want to blend in compost or fertilizer to the top half-foot of soil. Tarragon is prone to root rot and it is best to improve drainage and aeration at this point by adding organic matter to the soil.
- Choose a reputable plant nursery to select a French tarragon plant. Depending on your needs and location in the United States, Mexican tarragon is a good alternative which is planted from seed.
- It is best to plant during the summer to ensure increased vigor of the tarragon for winter.
- When adding French tarragon, make sure it does not have root rot- the main disease that affects tarragon.
- To grow several French tarragon plants from one parent plant, gently cut the parent plant at the bulb stem.
- Dig enough space for the daughter French tarragon plants and roots.
- Dig and add the tarragon plant, cover with soil and then water.
- If utilizing a tarragon seed, dig a shallow hole, add the seed, cover with soil, and water.
Caring for Tarragon per Season
If you want to know how to grow tarragon well, care after planting is crucial. Watering and irrigation is great for tarragon, but ensure the soil is not too moist and not in a flood area since it is prone to the disease root rot. In the winter, you may opt to protect the tarragon by adding mulch.
Pests and Possible Diseases
Tarragon is a great plant for the beginner and for established gardeners since it is very hardy all year. Tarragon does not really attract any pests but is prone to root rot. Root rot can severely damage the plant, but prevention with proper drainage and aeration can help in this issue.
The flavors and essential oils of tarragon are optimal when harvested in the early morning. It is also ideal to harvest after ensuring the plant is robust and has plenty of leaves to provide. In the case of Mexican tarragon, the five petal yellow-golden flowers can also be harvested and consumed.
The tarragon harvest is generally used immediately or stored for future use. Freeze tarragon sprigs in tightly sealed freezer bags. Additionally, hang and dry in a dark place, then crumble and place into tightly sealed glass jars to keep freshness and flavor.
Tarragon is a delightful herb to keep in any garden. Knowing how to grow tarragon is now part of your gardening arsenal. Tarragon is a hardy plant during the winter months and pests are of little concern. The flavor is highly revered and although French tarragon propagates from a parent plant, the flavor has become a staple in many kitchens. As long as tarragon is well cared for, a hearty plant will emerge.
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