Tarragon: the perennial herb in your own garden
The spicy tarragon is available in different varieties. We present tarragon from cultivation in your own garden to use in the kitchen.
The aromatic herb is particularly popular in Italy and France [Photo: ElenVik / Shutterstock]
Tarragon ( Artemisia dracunculus ) belongs to the Asteraceae family . This means that the perennial herb is related to the dandelion ( Taraxacum ), for example. The characteristic bloom appears in a yellow-green hue from May to June. When grown in beds and under favorable conditions, it can grow up to 150 cm in height – in just one year. Because the herb, which is native to Siberia and Asia, is cut off towards winter. The commercially available stripped or fresh tarragon is mostly grown in the Netherlands or the Balkans. The spicy herb, which is characterized by a fine note of anise, is particularly popular in Italian and French cuisine. Three different types of tarragon are mainly grown – Russian, French or German tarragon. In the following, you will find out which preferences the individual tarragon varieties have and which properties make them up.
Growing tarragon: the aromatic herb in your own garden
The tarragon prefers a sunny, but sheltered location. He can also cope with partial shade and occasional drought does not bother him, as long as he does not dry out completely. Basically, a moist, yet permeable and nutrient-rich soil is ideal for the perennial herb. Waterlogging, on the other hand, should be avoided. If this is the case, you can work sand into the soil, for example, to loosen it up and promote its permeability.
Tarragon feels good in the bed, but also in the pot [Photo: Michal_R / Shutterstock.com]
Tarragon can also be grown in a tub on the balcony and terrace. So that it can be watered frequently according to its needs, you should choose a sufficiently large planter from the start.
Especially in the pot but also in the bed, the tarragon benefits from the use of nutrient-rich, well-water-storing soil. Our Plantura organic universal soil is such a soil that is also produced peat-free and protects the tarragon from waterlogging thanks to its loose structure with wood fibers.
How tarragon can be propagated depends on the variety. The Russian tarragon ( Artemisiadracunculus var. Inodora ) can be propagated by sowing. This takes place in March or April. Then the seeds are first grown in a preculture in the house and planted outdoors from May. However, it is not absolutely necessary to grow young plants indoors. The seeds of the Russian tarragon can also simply be sown outdoors from the end of April. It should be noted, however, that tarragon is a light germ and the seeds must therefore not be covered with a substrate layer.
Tarragon can also be propagated from seeds. [Photo: Anna-2118 / Shutterstock.com]
The French tarragon ( Artemisiadracunculus var. Sativus ) and German tarragon ( Artemisia dracunculus cv.), On the other hand, cannot be propagated via seeds because they do not develop any. Therefore, these two varieties are propagated either by dividing a plant in spring or by cuttings. The cuttings are cut in summer and, when the air humidity is high, put in a nursery box with a transparent cover, for example. As soon as the first roots form, the cuttings are slowly accustomed to an environment with lower air humidity by gradually removing the cover of the nursery box longer and longer.
We also have detailed step-by-step instructions for growing tarragon for you.
Watering and fertilizing
Especially when the tarragon is grown in a pot, it must be carefully watered. Under no circumstances should it dry out completely. That is why it has to be watered occasionally if it has been planted in the bed, especially because the tarragon only develops a very shallow root system and therefore cannot reach the deep water reserves in the soil.
Tarragon also needs a permeable substrate in the pot [Photo: illustrissima / Shutterstock.com]
A well-fertilized substrate should be used in the pot culture. During the main growth period up to June, it is advisable to add watering occasionally every three to four weeks. If the tarragon is planted in the bed in May, the soil can be prepared with compost or mainly organic organic universal fertilizer to ensure that the tarragon is supplied with nutrients.
Which plants live in the immediate vicinity of the tarragon can already determine the success of the daisy family. Thyme ( Thymus vulgaris ) is beneficial near the tarragon, but it does not get along well with dill (Anethum graveolens).
The small yellow tarragon flowers stand in panicles [Photo: Iva Villi / Shutterstock]
In autumn, tarragon is cut about 5 to 10 cm above the surface of the soil. To overwinter the tarragon, the plant is covered with rice, leaves or fir branches to protect it from the cold. Plants that are cultivated in pots should be placed indoors during the cold season or wrapped in garden fleece. Even if the German tarragon, which is somewhat more robust than the other two varieties, should still be protected from frosty temperatures. This also makes it easier to sprout in the following spring.
Tarragon: Three varieties with different properties
Within the species, three different tarragon varieties can be distinguished, which are primarily found in the home garden.
- Russian tarragon ( Artemisia dracunculus inodora )
The Russian tarragon is relatively undemanding and could also cope with poorer, barren soils. It is cultivated less often, because its bitter note does not suit everyone's taste. However, it is the only variety that can be easily propagated from seeds.
- French tarragon ( Artemisia dracunculus sativus )
The French tarragon is the most intense in the characteristic tarragon aroma. It is used in the traditional Bernaise sauce and can withstand temperatures down to -10 ° C. Since it does not form seeds, it has to be propagated by division or cuttings.
- German tarragon ( Artemisia dracunculus )
The German tarragon is the most robust of the three varieties. It tolerates winter temperatures best, but has to be propagated using cuttings as it does not develop seeds.
The seeds of Russian tarragon are easily available in stores. However, if you want to propagate the other two types of tarragon yourself, you must have access to an appropriate plant. However, the varieties to be propagated by dividing and cuttings are available in well-stocked specialist shops and in nurseries.
Harvest and store tarragon properly
To enjoy the tarragon, the leaves or young shoots are simply removed. Harvesting is possible all year round, but it is best to do it before flowering. With the onset of flowering, the content of flavoring substances and consequently the aroma of the tarragon decreases. The shoots are simply cut off in a length of up to 30 cm. However, the whole plant should never be harvested at once. Regular harvesting can delay the flowering of the tarragon and thus extend the period in which the aromatic material can be harvested.
Tarragon can be dried in small bundles after harvesting [Photo: Dani Vincek / shutterstock.com]
The tarragon can be stored in different ways. So you have your aroma available all year round.
- Freeze the tarragon
If the leaves are plucked from the stems after harvest, they can be filled into ice cube molds and frozen with a little water. The tarragon ice cubes are available in handy portions at any time for months and can be used easily and conveniently.
- Dry tarragon
Tarragon can also be dried, but then it will lose a little of its aroma. In addition, only the plucked leaves should be dried, as otherwise the aromas will accumulate in the stems, which cannot be used.
- Put in tarragon
Whole shoots of tarragon can also be soaked in oil. The best way to do this is to use a virgin olive oil. It is important that the shoots are completely surrounded by olive oil, otherwise mold will quickly develop. The oil absorbs the aromas of the tarragon and can be used for seasoning or cooking. The tarragon drives should pull through in the oil for two weeks. You can do the same with vinegar.
You can find out more about the correct harvest and storage of tarragon here.
Tarragon: use in the kitchen and as a medicinal herb
Tarragon is particularly popular in French and Italian cuisine. The light aniseed aroma is ideal for seasoning, for example meat dishes or egg and cheese dishes. The aromatic French tarragon is part of the classic Bernaise sauce. Tarragon can also be cooked at the same time – the aroma is not reduced by cooking, as is the case with other herbs. Sometimes it is recommended that when seasoning with tarragon only this herb is used for seasoning and not combined with other herbs. Everyone has to test for themselves whether this makes sense.
Dried tarragon is ideal for Mediterranean dishes [Photo: Brent Hofacker / shutterstock.com]
Tarragon is not only used in the kitchen, it is also said to have an effect as a medicinal herb. It generally stimulates the digestion of heavy foods and promotes appetite. Furthermore, it should counteract mild toothache.
However, the use of tarragon has been criticized for several years due to the ingredient estragole. This is because it is suspected of causing cancer. However, you have to consume quantities that are far higher than those normally used for seasoning. Nevertheless, pregnant women in particular are advised not to eat dishes refined with tarragon.
You can find more medicinal plants from your own garden and their healing effects in this article.