- botanical name: Artemisia dracunculus
- perennial zones 3-7
- height 2-3″
- spacing 18-24″ apart
- full sun tolerant, partial shade
- average, well-drained soil
- uses in garden: as a border, in containers, as an edging, fragrant
- use in creamy sauces, with fish, vinegars, and vegetables
French Tarragon is a delicately flavored herb reminiscent of mint and licorice that goes particularly well with fish, vinegars, and vegetables. It is delicious in creamy sauces and in combination with chives, garlic, and any lemon-flavored herb. The buttery French sauce, béarnaise, includes Tarragon. Fresh leaves are best, of course, but to save the leaves, freeze rather than dry because it will lose much flavor in the drying process. Find great Tarragon recipes here!
Tarragon is high in vitamin A, calcium, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, and thiamine.
Tarragon’s Latin name, dracunculus, means little dragon: in the Middle ages, it was used to treat snake bites. It is part of the large hardy, herbaceous family, Artemesia. Another well-known variety of the family is A. Absinthium, or Wormwood. This is known for its use in absinthe liquor. Many of the varieties are distinctly scented.
In the garden, Tarragon loves sunny, warm weather. Harvest whole branches, not just the individual leaves. Cut 3 to 6 inches from stem tips for use and to encourage branching. Flower stems should be removed to keep the plant productive. Tarragon prefers a loamy well-drained soil. Don’t over water. Protect your Tarragon plants from frost and damaging winter weather by adding mulch around each plant. Tarragon requires a lot of light, so it generally does not do well indoors.
Russian Tarragon seeds are also available. While slightly inferior as a culinary herb, it’s the only Tarragon which can be grown from seed. Purchase them here.
French Tarragon is difficult to propagate from seed.
Preferred method: take herbaceous cuttings rooting them in fine garden soil or other growing medium. Keep misted until well-rooted. Transplant outdoors when all danger of frost is passed. Space plants 2 feet apart.