Tarragon: How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Tarragon

Gardeners cultivate the Tarragon ( Artemisia dracunculus) at home with many egg, seafood, and poultry dishes. Its delicious, licorice-like aroma can also be used to infuse white wine vinegar. It is excellent when added to soups, sauces, and salad dressings. The leaves can be frozen or dried. However, fresh leaves are the most flavorful and aromatic.

An ancestor of the daisy plant family, French Tarragon is a gorgeous herb with small green leaves and soft gray-green flowers. Plants provide a smooth and beautiful texture to your garden’s borders and are very well adapted to indoor cultivation in pots. Tarragon can also be an excellent eggplant partner and will benefit other vegetables.

As with many other classic plants, Tarragon is a king with health benefits that include minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. The fragrant perennials range between 12 and 24 inches tall, are half-hardy, drought-tolerant, and typically need winter-time protection.

Funny Fact: It is said that Tarragon aids digestion, and when used as a tonic, it’s believed to help ease arthritis, rheumatism, and toothaches.

Botanical Name: Artemisia dracunculus (Sativa subspecies)

Common Name: Tarragon, estragon

Family: Asteraceae

Plant Type: Perennial herb

Hardiness Zones:4 to 9 (USDA)

Sun exposure: Full sun to partial shade

Soil TypeSandy, well-drained

pH of soil:6.5 to 7.5 (Neutral)

The time to reach maturity:40-60 days from transplant

Height:12 to 24 inches

Spacing18 24-inch spacing

Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Harvesting Tarragon

  • For the most authentic flavor, select French Tarragon
  • Seeds, not starts, will yield the most effective results.
  • Outside, Plant after the risk of frost. It prefers full shade to partial shade and compost-enriched soil.
  • Fresh leaves are harvested 6-8 weeks after transplanting
  • Generally, it is free of disease and insects; however, ensure you water them carefully to prevent the growth of mildew and root rot growth.

Tarragon Plant Care

Tarragon is a food herb with glossy, slim leaves and a savory flavor. It is easy to cultivate resilient, challenging, and drought-resistant. It’s the French cultivar is one most often used for cooking.

It is often utilized in French cuisine due to its ability to give the freshness of spring and a touch of class to dishes such as salad dressings, sauces, and chicken and fish.

Fresh Tarragon is usually only available in colder climates in spring or summer. It is possible to locate it in big chain stores and farmers’ markets since it’s not as widespread in the same way as other herbs, such as cilantro.

It’s also possible to see it at your local farmer’s market in the spring or the beginning of summer. It is always best to plant your herbs to access them whenever you want and enjoy the freshest flavor and scent.

Because the blooms that grow on French Tarragon are sterile, it isn’t possible to grow them from seeds inside your backyard. Purchasing an early plant or asking a family member or neighbor to cut a piece is necessary.

The ideal moment to start planting Tarragon is during the springtime, especially at the beginning of spring. In hot climates, you must be careful not to place the Plant in sunlight for extended durations of time. Also, you should pick a sandy, well-draining soil.


Contrary to other herbs, Tarragon does not like direct sunlight in an area with high temperatures. Full sun is a good option for those who live in moderate climates. Otherwise, you should choose a spot that receives dappled light or early in the morning. The species thrives under warm conditions rather than scorching temperatures.


Excessively moist conditions do not favor the growth of Tarragon. It can endure dry spells but does best when planted in sandy, light, and well-drained soil.

The Plant won’t develop well when the soil becomes abrasive, acidic, and damp. The roots will begin to rot, and the taste will diminish.


To determine the frequency and quantity it is necessary to rinse your Tarragon, You must first consider your Plant’s maturity level and the conditions outside.

If you’ve experienced dry, hot conditions for a prolonged period, ensuring you water the young Tarragon plants each day will allow them to flourish. The simple act of watering once every few days is sufficient for mature Tarragon.

Before you begin the watering process, examine the top inch of soil. If it’s moist, it is not necessary to water it. However, you should water your tarragon plant in case you notice that it’s dry. If it’s dry, then water it.

While plants like these can tolerate drought-prone soils, it’s vital not to overwater, as this can reduce growth and increase flavor intensity.

Although Tarragon can thrive without moisture, too much drought can hinder the growth of leaves.

Temperature and Humidity

Temperatures aren’t a massive problem for this Plant that is hardy. Even when a cold snap occurs, it will continue to expand. But Tarragon cannot do well in extreme temperatures, sunlight, and high humidity.

If the Plant dies in winter and goes into dormancy, the roots will be shielded from freezing temperatures by putting mulch on the Plant.


Fertilizer isn’t required for Tarragon’s success. Planting it in soil with low nutrients produces the most delicious taste, so it is appropriate to utilize a general-purpose variety only during the initial plant stage.

Types of Tarragon

There are three significant types of Tarragon offered:

French Tarragon: The ideal option for culinary use and is well-acknowledged.

Russian Tarragon: This version has a less pronounced taste than French Tarragon. It is advised to use it as quickly as possible since it loses its flavor as it ages. It creates more leaves, which taste great in salads.

Spanish Tarragon: The flavor of Spanish Tarragon is more intense than Russian Tarragon but less so than French Tarragon. It is used to make tea and can be used for medicinal purposes.

What Does Tarragon Taste Like?

People tend to either love or dislike Tarragon based on their preference for the taste of licorice. It tastes more than anise since it has a smoky flavor.

It’s got hints of mint, vanilla, pepper, and even eucalyptus, distinguishing it from other food items that taste similar to licorice, like fennel.

On the other hand, the French variety is delicate and brings all the flavors of France to create a soft and refined herb.

How to Use Tarragon in Cooking

Tarragon is used extensively in a wide variety of French recipes and is frequently called the ‘king of herbs’ in France because of its ability to elevate any dish because of its fresh spring-like flavor.

The herb is among the four herbs that comprise the French mixture of fine herbs. It’s composed of parsley, Tarragon, chervil, and Chives. It’s the basis of French food preparation.

It is an excellent ingredient for many dishes like eggs, fish, chicken dishes, stews, and condiments for salads like Bearnaise sauce and cheese. It is a great ingredient to use, both dry and fresh, and adds the perfect delicate flavor to cook most recipes.

If using fresh Tarragon, use it raw or add it near the final cooking stage, as its flavor gets bitter when cooked for too long. Tarragon dried is often used at the beginning of recipes. However, its weaker taste doesn’t provide the same impact as fresh.

Cooks can utilize fresh Tarragon in various ways, such as in sauces, salads, and even potato and chicken salads. It’s great to use as a garnish or even slicing into salads. Tarragon is also a great herb to flavor vinegar.

It can be incorporated into various sauces, like pesto or Aioli. It is an excellent addition to tuna and salmon. Mix this with olive oil, then drizzle it over the roasted vegetables.

How to Plant and Grow Tarragon

Site Preparation

French Tarragon needs full sun and partial shade. It also requires rich, well-drained soil and frequent irrigation. It is often unable to thrive because the ground is too moist or acidic. Growing it outside in a sunny garden or window pots with adequate drainage is possible. Find out more about gardening in containers here.

How to Plant Tarragon

New plants must be created from cuttings with roots or purchased as nursery stock from the local garden shop. French Tarragon cannot be developed from seeds.

Buying plants marked “French tarragon” ensures you have the finest selection to cook with. Russian varieties that can be grown from seeds are readily available. However, they’re not very weedy and don’t have essential oils and an intense flavor.

Plant in the garden after all risk from frost has gone. Plants fade back to their root during winter and return in the spring. Plants should be spaced about 2 feet apart and mulch well using compost or animal manure that has been well-rotted.

It is likely to be successful in propagating the Plant if the stem is taken from an already-established plant in the late spring or early summer.

Pick young stems and cut them about 5 to 6 inches long to achieve optimal results. Cut off the lower third of the leaves after the branch is dipped in a nutrient that stimulates root growth and then placed in moist potting soil.

Root division techniques may also be employed. The best time to perform this is late fall or early spring. The root ball can be split in half, then each half planted in new soil in containers or the ground.

Because of its short life span as a perennial plant, Tarragon must be divided every three years to keep it growing for your garden.

Please read our article on the cultivation and propagation of plants. Click here to find more information about how to propagate the Tarragon.

Harvesting and Storage

Harvest tarragon 6-8 weeks after transplanting outside. Take care when handling plants because they can bruise easily. Take a bite in the morning; the dew is dry. This will give you the most taste.

The leaves are best enjoyed fresh but can be kept dried or frozen in the True Liberty(r) Turkey Bags. These bags are unique and help preserve herb harvests with all the flavor and aroma stored inside.

It is also possible to put the Tarragon stems in small glasses of water and then set them on the counter for around one week. It is recommended to store the herb to keep it for more extended storage.

Fresh Tarragon can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks when it is washed, patted, placed in an adsorbent paper towel, and placed inside an airtight container. Fresh Tarragon can also be frozen for as long as five months.

To dry the herbs, tie the cuttings in small groups and hang them upside-down in a well-ventilated, dark room. Once dry, store the stems and leaves in airtight containers for storage. The leaves will turn brown in this process (watch our instructional video on drying Herbs on this page). Make sure to crush or grind them before using.

Dried Tarragon can last a year if stored in a sealed container and a dark, excellent location.

Note: Fresh Tarragon can be preserved using white vinegar, preserving its flavor longer than drying.

Seed Saving Instructions

True Tarragon produces no seeds. Divide mature plants in spring or cut the root tips any time during the gardening season.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases for Tarragon

A variety of insect pests doesn’t afflict Tarragon, but it is susceptible to diseases of plants like downy mildew, powdery mildew, and Rhizoctonia (root decay). To stop these fungal diseases, Plant in areas with an airflow and adequate rain on sunny days so the leaves can dry out by the evening.

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