TarragonThis delicate perennial plant is found in many French dishes. Used as a seasoning for chicken, fish, or to add oil or vinegar. Fragrant tarragon leaves are best used fresh as they lose their flavor when dried—best grown in warm climates.
True French tarragon cannot be grown from seed, but this variety, called Russian tarragon, has its merits and advantages. Its faint, slightly bitter anise flavor is good for a fresh salad or herbal vinegar. It is used as a medicine because scientific studies show that it is beneficial for regulating insulin and lowering blood sugar, purifying the blood, treating headaches and dizziness, and as a mild sedative. Russian tarragon is also easy to transplant and has steady growth, making it more affordable than the tender French tarragon. The English word for tarragon comes from the French word for "little dragon" in connection with the ancient belief that this plant can heal the bites of poisonous snakes. Tarragon was utterly unknown to ancient civilizations, and the first mention of its presence in the Western world dates back to the 16th century. The Arabic botanist and pharmacist Ibn al-Baytar from Spain recommended it as a breath freshener, a vegetable herb, and a remedy for insomnia.
How to Grow Russian Tarragon from seeds:
- Sowing: Plant the seeds indoors about a month before the last frost, sowing thinly to the surface. Set the temperature to 65-70 degrees F away from direct sunlight until germination. Transplant seedlings 24-30 ″ apart when frost-free. Tarragon grows best in dry or well-drained soil, in full sun or light shade. Direct seeding is possible but somewhat tricky due to the tiny seed. This herb attracts butterflies and bees and also repels harmful insects and deer. Tarragon can be grown from cuttings or split roots, although growing in a container is not recommended due to the size and growth of the plant.
- Plant Spacing: 24-30″.
- Growing of Russian Tarragon: Tarragon fully reveals its flavor when left in dry soil and abundant sunlight. Mature plants tolerate drought very well. Over-watering can lead to root rot as well as fungal infections. Keep the plant trimmed to improve plant growth.
- Russian Tarragon Soil Requirements for: Grows well in dry soil.
- Russian Tarragon Seeds Days to Germination: 14 days.
- Light Preference of Russian Tarragon: Full Sun.
- Life Cycle of Russian Tarragon: Annual, Tender Perennial
- How and When to Harvest Russian Tarragon: Fresh leaves should be harvested as soon as the plant reaches 6 inches in height. It is best to gather in the morning when there is no dew. Whole stems or the entire plant should be trimmed slightly above ground level to encourage new growth. To dry entire stems, cut and tie; hang upside down in a dry, dark place for about two weeks. You should cut the leaves off the stems and store them in a cool, dry place.
- Russian Tarragon Days to Maturity: 70-80 Days.
- Russian Tarragon's Seed Saving: Small green flowers should appear in the fall. If the growing season is too short, the plant may not have time to produce seeds. When they start to ripen, harvest them individually as they begin to develop mature seeds, which will look almost like black dust. Carefully gather the heads, spread them out to dry away from direct sunlight, and then shake them lightly to remove the seed. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place.
- Common Names: Tarragon, Estragon
- Latin Name: Artemisia dracunculus
- Species Origin: Widespread in the wild across much of Eurasia and North America
- Life Cycle: Annual, Tender Perennial
- USDA Zones: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
- Seeds per Ounce: 200,000
- Sunlight: Full Sun
- Height: 30-60 Inches
- Color: Green
- Bloom Season: Blooms Late Summer, Blooms Early Fall
- Uses: Culinary, Medicinal, Aromatic