French tarragon is a cold-sensitive perennial. Grow French tarragon from the division of established plants in spring or cuttings from new growth taken in summer or fall; over-winter French tarragon indoors until spring. Tarragon cannot be grown from seed.
Description. French tarragon is a sprawling perennial plant that grows from 12 to 24 inches tall. It has long stems and slender, spiky, dark green, aromatic leaves to about one-inch long. French tarragon grows and spreads slowly from tangled, underground rhizomes. It produces sterile cloves and cannot be grown from seed. Tarragon rarely flowers.
Yield. Grow one French tarragon plant per household
Site. Plant French tarragon in full sun or partial shade. Grow tarragon in well-drained, sandy loam. It will tolerate poor and nearly dry soil. It does not grow well in cold, wet, or compacted soil. French tarragon prefers a soil pH of 6.0 to 7.5. Tarragon does not grow well in acidic soil.
Planting time. Plant French tarragon cuttings or divisions on the average date of the last frost in spring. Cuttings from new growth can be planted again in summer or fall. Late planted tarragon should be over-wintered indoors until spring. Tarragon is half-hardy, meaning it sensitive to more than a light frost. Established plants can survive cold winters outdoors if protected with a thick layer of mulch.
Planting and spacing. French tarragon can only be propagated by divisions or cuttings. Tarragon seed is sterile. Root 6- to 8-inch stem cuttings in moist sand. Allow four weeks for stems to root. Set plants 18 to 24 inches apart; space rows 24 to 36 inches apart. French tarragon is low growing and naturally spreading; root division are easily taken at underground nodes.
Water and feeding. Keep French tarragon evenly moist until plants are established. One established plants require occasional watering; the ground can nearly dry between waterings. French tarragon is a light feeder; foliar spray plants with compost tea or a seaweed extract 2 to 3 time during the growing season.
Companion plants. French tarragon grows well with nearly all vegetables.
Care. Divide French tarragon every 3 to 4 years to keep plants growing vigorously. Mulch plants where the ground freezes; mulch after the first freeze so that later freezes and thaws do not push the plant up and out of the ground. A cold weather resting period will benefit tarragon. To over-winter plants indoors, pot up new plants in summer, cutting foliage to just above the soil. Place plants in a sunny window for winter harvest.
Propagation: Lift plants in spring and divide and plant new shoots.
Container growing. French tarragon can be grown easily in a container 12 inches wide and deep. Tarragon can be grown in hanging baskets.
Pests. Tarragon has no serious pest problems.
Diseases. Tarragon has no serious disease problems. Avoid planting French tarragon where water collects or where leaves are slow to dry. Tarragon is susceptible to downy mildew, powdery mildew, and root rot where the soil or plants stay wet.
Harvest. French tarragon will be ready for harvest 60 days after planting. Pick young, top leaves in early summer for best flavor. Cut back leafy top growth several times during the season to encourage the plant to bush out with new growth.
More tips at: Tarragon: Kitchen Basics.
Varieties. Russian tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus var. sativa) is coarse and bitter tasting, not recommended for cooking. Mexican tarragon is a species of marigold (Tagetes lucida).
Storing and preserving. French tarragon is best used fresh; wrap leaves in a paper towel and place in a plastic bag and kept the refrigerator for 2 or 3 weeks. French tarragon can be dried and frozen.
Use: flavoring, cosmetics, perfume
Common name. French tarragon
Botanical name. Artemisia dracunculus
Origin. Caspian Sea, Siberia