It’s best to start growing tarragon from cuttings or French tarragon plants purchased at the nursery or on Amazon.com. True French tarragon cannot be grow from seeds.
To be successful growing tarragon, sunshine and soil that can be drained properly are vital. Tarragon does not like soil that is too wet or acidic. During very hot days, the plant likes a little bit of shade. The most ideal growing spot is somewhere that gets full sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. Or if you live in an area that isn’t too hot, full sun all afternoon can be tolerated. If you are planting it in a pot, be sure to give the plant it’s own container, as it can be easily overgrown by more aggressive plants. Tarragon is winter hardy but just be sure to water sparingly and make sure to move the container into an area that is free of frost or indoors.
Tarragon has a shallow root system so if you’re weeding around the plant, take care not to disturb the roots.
You can also grow tarragon indoors if you have a window that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. To plant tarragon indoors, use a pot that is at least 10-12 inches deep so that the roots have room to grow.
You must divide the tarragon every three to four years or the roots will overgrow each other and choke the plants so they can’t get the proper nutrients.
Originally from southern Russia and western Asia, the herb Tarragon is a perennial plant that can grows up to 2-3 feet. It has long, narrow leaves that are very delicate. With it peppery flavor, Tarragon can enhance the flavor of many foods. It’s a refreshing herb, but not too overpowering. It goes well with foods such as fish, pork, beef, chicken and many vegtables. Tarragon is also wonderful in many cream sauces, herbed butters, vinegars and soups. Chop leaves very fine to extract the most flavor.
There are two main varieties of tarragon – French and Russian. French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus sativa) is definitely the variety that you want for cooking. The Russian variety of tarragon has a much milder flavor and is hardier than French tarragon and lacks the essential oils. If you are looking for the plant at the nursery, be sure to select a French tarragon plant.
You can begin harvesting about 6-8 weeks after planting your tarragon plant. Tarragon leaves picked in the middle of summer are the best for freezing. The leaves to bruise easily so handle gently with harvesting. It’s best to cut only the top third of the stems, especially for cooking.
To store, wrap the leaves in a paper towel and put it in a plastic bag in the fridge. If stored this way tarragon leaves will last about 2-3 weeks. If you don’t plan to use the leaves in 2-3 weeks, they can be frozen. Tarragon does not dry well, so use it fresh in summer recipes and use it frozen during other times of the year.