Growing tarragon is one of the easiest garden tasks there is… as long as you don’t start it from seed. It will produce a good-smelling, good-looking and good-tasting plant for up to five years and is commonly used to season many foods as well as vinegar and sauces.
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Tarragon is grown primarily from cuttings. Only the less familiar Russian tarragon can be grown from seed, and its taste is nowhere near its French counterpart.
For the more popular French tarragon, get cuttings from a mature plant to root in potting soil (see snapshot below for details), or simply buy a plant from the nursery.
If you decide to try Russian tarragon from seed, start the seeds indoors a few weeks before the last frost date, and then transplant outdoors after danger of frost has passed.
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Tarragon will benefit from some compost in the spring to encourage growth. It needs plenty of sun but can suffer in late summer if it gets too hot. If you live it a hot climate, give it some shade during the hottest months.
Until plants are established, they will need consistent watering (don't let the soil dry out), but once they’re good and strong they'll need very little.
As the plant starts to flourish, pinch back long shoots to encourage a bushier plant, and pinch off flower heads before they bloom to encourage better leaf production.
In very cold climates, you may need to cover your tarragon plants during the winter.
Tarragon can be harvested as needed any time after the plant begins to grow. Leaves should be harvested before the plant blooms.
Approximately every two years, it's a good idea to dig the plants up and divide them to maintain a healthy plant that continues to produce well.
Tarragon should be dried or frozen for storage. To dry, tie bouquets with string and hang them in a warm dry place.
Once dried, remove the leaves from the stems and place them in an airtight storage container. To freeze, wash stems and remove leaves. Freeze leaves whole in plastic bags.
The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Tarragon. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.
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