How to Grow Tarragon the Dragon

It`s known as the dragon to many gardeners and just like its name, how to grow tarragon can be a bit of a mystery. In fact, to the general public the herb itself seems to have been forgotten.

Tarragon in planterTarragon

A Forgotten Herb

I think so anyway! When I mention tarragon to family and friends they draw a blank. If they do happen to have heard of it they more likely than not have never tasted it which is a shame.

I absolutely love the taste, and as a young woman would often pick up a tin of chicken and tarragon soup in the supermarket as I never got sick of the stuff. But now it has faded a bit into the background despite its distinctive aniseed aroma and bitter sweet almost minty flavour.

French tarragon (the more widely used kind) is sterile. That means the flowers if they do manage to develop will not produce seed. Some plant and seed suppliers say they have 100% French tarragon seeds. How is this possible if the flowers are sterile. There seems to be an air of mystery surrounding this herb.

What I want to know is why are the flowers sterile? Is the species a hybrid? I have searched for a direct and simple answer but have not come across any suitable explanation yet. When I do I will update this page.

How To Grow Tarragon
By Root Division

Here is a step by step method on how to grow tarragon from an existing plant. Far better to do it this way than to buy seeds, plant them and wait forever for the flowers to appear. That would be like planting a feather and hoping it would grow a hen. Hmmm?

  1. Buy a French tarragon plant and let it grow in a pot or in the garden for the first year.
  2. It will die back in late Autumn. Cut back the old dead stems and cover over with a mulch. This can be gravel, straw, bark or one of your choice.
  3. March is normally the beginning of Spring when the shoots will appear but my tarragon sprouted at the end of January which was very unusual. Anyway when it does sprout and you want more separate plants, dig up the rhizomes (tubers) and divide them.
  4. Plant them in a well drained sunny spot about 12 to 18 inches apart.

How To Grow Tarragon
From Stem Cuttings

Stem cuttings are another way to propagate new plants but on this site we want to keep it simple, so root divisions is the best option. But if you feel you would like to take the leap then here is how you do it.

  1. Cut a good stem from a healthy parent plant but not a new shoot. strip the leaves about 1 inch from the cut end and scrape off a few patches for roots to develop.
  2. Next cut off the top of the stem to reduce the cutting to about 4 to 5 inches long.
  3. Remove most leaves just leaving a few.
  4. Fill a pot with a good general potting mix and push the patchy end down 1 inch into the mix. Press down lightly but not compactly.
  5. Really water it until it`s soaking and the rest is history. Your cutting should take a few weeks to grow roots.
  6. When you see new leaves beginning to appear, plant out in a sunny spot in the garden or re-pot into a larger pot for patios, balconies and gardens.

Why A Dragon?

No it has nothing to do with Bruce Lee and his culinary tastes. Tarragon has the reputation of having such twisted roots that they look like a dragons tail or a serpent. On the other hand there are the myths and legends that tell of the strange beliefs that tarragon could cure the bites of snakes and other dragon-like creatures.

  1. HerbHints
  2. How to Grow
  3. French Tarragon

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