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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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French Tarragon

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Post  kingsup 5/17/2023, 7:20 am

Hello Mid-Atlantic,

I've read that French Tarragon is only grown from starter plants and not seeds. I can't find any in local nurseries (only Mexican & Russian).

Does anyone near Silver Spring or Rockville Md have a large plant of French Tarragon that they'd be willing to separate a clump of French Tarragon for me to have?



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Post  Scorpio Rising 5/17/2023, 9:26 pm


I did not know this…I am not a friend of tarragon therefore not sure what I can offer you…however

I did look this up on my Amazon page and it looks like they have French Tarragon plants….so I would think either Amazon or a local vendor would be able to do it!
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Post  Hip2B 5/17/2023, 9:45 pm

Hi David,

I have French Tarragon, however I don't think it would be in great shape by the time it arrived if I sent it to you.
A friend gave me a clump from her garden last year. I keep growing notes on all my herbs, fruit, veg and medicinals, so I can help you with some information:

TARRAGON - FRENCH (Artemisia dracunculus) – Fragrant, strongly flavoured half-hardy, herbaceous perennial with narrow lance-shaped leaves on slender stems. 40 - 100cm high and 30 – 100cm wide. Fast growing with an upright and spreading growth habit. Native to Southern Europe, quickly forms robust clumps via root runners. Upright growth with slender green and grey / silver leaves and a distinct, appealing fragrance. The small cream or yellow to green flowers appear in spring and summer and attract bees. Good in rock gardens, courtyards, borders and pots. Full sun to part shade position. Protect from winds and winter frosts. Moist, well-drained, neutral to slightly acidic soil. Amend the soil with a shovelful of organic material like mature compost and / or well-rotted manure. Add some landscape sand or pea gravel to improve drainage if needed. Dislikes very rich soils. Apply an organic controlled-release fertiliser in spring and autumn or fertilise with liquid seaweed fertiliser. Overwatering can cause root rot. Allow the top inch or two of soil to dry out before watering. Over-watering will diminish the essential oils and therefore the taste. Drought hardy.
Suitable for cold temperate, warm temperate, arid and semi-arid climates. Not suited to areas with high humidity due to its susceptibility to fungal conditions. Becomes dormant and disappears in winter, reappears from a woody rhizome in late winter or spring. After the leaves have yellowed in autumn, cut the stems back to 7.5 – 8cm. Be sure to mark where it is planted so you don’t dig it up by mistake. In cold areas with heavy frosts, mulch with straw in autumn to protect the roots through winter. Once cool weather sets in, plants will die back and go dormant.
Remove flower stems for best growth. Tip prune regularly to encourage a dense habit. Frequent use of the plant will provide natural tip pruning. Leaves can be picked any time. If cutting stems, leave at least a third of the stem for regrowth. Plants can be sheared back to about 15cm in November through to mid-December, to encourage branching and a new flush of growth. Continue to harvest or clip the stems regularly to maintain lush, branching growth throughout the season. Harvest until mid-April, or when the lower leaves start to yellow.
Pests, such as flea beetles and whiteflies dislike the fragrance and tend to avoid areas where it’s planted.
It is also thought to improve the flavour and growth of certain crops and makes an excellent companion for solanum spp. crops such as eggplant, tomatoes, and capsicums.
Cultivation by seed is very difficult because it rarely sets viable seed. If seed is produced, it tends to revert to the inferior Russian variety of tarragon. Propagate by root division in late winter or spring, or semi-hardwood cuttings in spring or summer.
It is a good idea to replace the plant every 2 -3 years by tip cuttings or division. If dividing in early spring, wait until new growth is about 8cm high. Every two to three years in late spring, dig up the whole plant, prune off the top and replant individual pieces into fresh soil with well-rotted manure and compost, otherwise the root system tends to strangle the plant.
For cuttings, cut stems 7 – 20cm long, cutting just below a leaf node. Remove the leaves from the lower third of the stems. Dip the cut and stripped ends in hormone powder or gel (optional). Fill small pots with seedling mix. Insert the stems about 5cm deep and gently firm the soil around them. Water lightly. Place the pots where they will receive morning sun or dappled sunlight, but not direct, afternoon sun. Keep moist, not saturated. Best planted at soil temperatures between 10 - 25 degrees Celsius. Roots form in 3 – 4 weeks. Ready for transplant in 4 – 6 weeks.
When planted in healthy soil, tarragon doesn’t really require fertiliser, however a high nitrogen fertilizer, can be applied once in spring if required. Cease any fertiliser applications at the beginning of autumn and through dormancy.
To reduce the chance of fungal diseases, avoid wetting the leaves when watering and allow adequate airflow.
Downy mildew is caused by oomycetes, microbes that love humid environments and cause plant collapse. It is transferred by wind. Leaves develop brown, white, or yellow spots with a fuzzy grey mould on the underside. Remove and destroy infected leaves promptly. Ensure the soil is well-draining and spray with neem oil to prevent infections. A copper-based fungicide can also be used.
Powdery mildew is caused by a fungus that attacks leaves, causing them to brown and die. It appears as a white or grey powdery fungus and is spread by wind and water. Remove and destroy infected parts and spray with neem oil. Ensure proper air circulation and water plants in the morning, so that leaves dry by evening.
Rust is caused by a fungal parasite on the leaves. It appears as small white or yellow spots that form orange or red pustules, causing deformation and defoliation. Spores are transferred by wind or splashing water. Remove and destroy infected leaves, and ensure plant debris are cleared away before winter sets in. Give plants adequate air circulation and avoid splashing water on the leaves.
Leaves can be harvested as soon as the shoots are about 15cm tall. French tarragon can be harvested year-round when not in its dormancy stage. Harvest by cutting the stem back to 10 - 15cm, cutting just below a leaf node.
15 – 50cm plant spacing. Harvest in 30 – 40 days.   **SFG spacing 1 per grid  
Culinary and Use:
Pick leaves when young for best flavour. The best taste is when the herb is picked and used immediately. The leaves can be stripped by pulling a stem from top to bottom between your thumb and forefinger.
Stems and foliage can be used whole or chopped. Aromatic leaves have a sweet liquorice or anise-like flavour. Can be overpowering in large amounts.
Goes well with fish, pork, beef, poultry, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and most vegetables. Good in sauces (especially creamy ones), soups and stews. Combines beautifully with any dish containing eggs or mushrooms. Add to hot dishes just before serving, as heat diminishes the distinctive flavour.
Popular in condiments like mustard. Used to flavour drinks, pizza, sour cream, yoghurt, salad dressings herb butters, and herb crusts for fish and poultry. Can be added to salads and sandwiches or used to garnish soup. Blend with cream cheese as a tasty spread for bread or crackers.
Perk up tomato dishes or a toasted tomato sandwich with a layer of fresh leaves.
Can be added to vinegar - stuff a jar with fresh tarragon leaves and stems, pour a really good white wine vinegar over the top and leave to stand on a sunny windowsill for about a month, shaking every few days. Strain the vinegar into a bottle, add a fresh sprig of tarragon and use the vinegar right through winter (when no fresh tarragon is available) to make salad dressings and marinades or just sprinkle over vegetables or meat.
Store in the fridge for up to 5 days - rinse the stem and leaves with cold water, loosely wrap them in a damp paper towel and store in a plastic bag to help retain moisture. Alternatively, place stems in a small glass of water.
Leaves can also be frozen. Pack them in a one-inch layer in a freezer bag and squeeze out the excess air before freezing.
Dried tarragon can be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for 4 – 12 months - hang bunched stems upside down in a cool, dry, shady spot until completely dry. Crumble the leaves into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
Medicinal Use:
The plant parts that grow above the ground are used to make medicine. Tarragon is used to treat digestion issues, heart health, poor appetite, water retention, toothache, menstruation issues and to promote sleep. Tarragon essential oil fights Staph infection and E. coli. Tarragon contains 0.3% to 1.0% essential oil. The principal component of Tarragon essential oil is methyl chavicol.
Tarragon has been found to help improve insulin sensitivity and the way the body uses glucose. A 7-day study in animals with diabetes found that tarragon extract lowered blood glucose concentrations by 20%, compared to a placebo.
A 90-day, randomized, double-blind study examined the effect of tarragon on insulin sensitivity, insulin secretion and glycaemic control in 24 people with impaired glucose tolerance. Those who received 1000mg of tarragon before breakfast and dinner experienced a marked decrease in total insulin secretion, which can help keep blood sugar levels balanced throughout the day.
While not scientifically proven, tarragon may help with sleep issues like insomnia. The French have traditionally used tarragon as an insomnia remedy for years. Some herbalists suggest having tarragon tea before bed to calm the nervous system and encourage a restful sleep. Add one teaspoon of fresh leaves to one cup of hot water.
Insufficient sleep has been linked to poor health outcomes and can increase the risk of conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Sleeping pills or hypnotics may lead to complications, including depression or substance abuse. The Artemisia group of plants, including tarragon, has been used as a remedy for poor sleep. In one study of mice, Artemisia plants appeared to provide a sedative effect and help regulate sleep patterns. Due to the small size of the study, more research is required on the use of tarragon for sleep — particularly in humans.
The oils in tarragon trigger the body’s natural digestive juices, making it an excellent digestive aid, not only as an aperitif, helping to spark the appetite, but also to digest food properly. It can assist the digestive process from beginning to end, starting with saliva excretion in the mouth, to production of gastric juices in the stomach, to peristaltic motion in the intestines. This is largely due to the carotenoids found in tarragon. The Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences at the University College Cork, Ireland examined the effects of herbs containing carotenoids on digestion. Results showed that they “contribute to the intake of bio-accessible carotenoids,” which in turn improves digestive health.
Tarragon may increase appetite by reducing leptin levels. Loss of appetite can occur for various reasons, including age, depression or chemotherapy. Untreated, it can lead to malnutrition and a decreased quality of life. An imbalance in the hormones ghrelin and leptin may also cause a decrease in appetite. Ghrelin is a hunger hormone, while leptin is a satiety hormone. When ghrelin levels rise, it induces hunger. Rising leptin levels cause a feeling of fullness. One study in mice examined the role of tarragon extract in stimulating appetite. Results showed a decrease in insulin and leptin secretion and an increase in body weight. The findings suggest that tarragon extract may help increase feelings of hunger, however results were only found in combination with a high-fat diet. Additional research in humans is needed to confirm this.
Research suggests that tarragon extract can help to reduce blood sugar levels in animals and people with insulin sensitivity. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that when consumed before meals, participants displayed significant reductions in total insulin secretion, helping to normalize their blood sugar levels.
Tarragon has long been used to treat pain in traditional folk medicine. A 12-week study of 42 people with osteoarthritis examined the effectiveness of the dietary supplement Arthrem (which contains a tarragon extract) and its effect on pain and stiffness. Individuals who took 150mg of Arthrem twice daily saw significant improvement in symptoms compared to those taking 300mg twice daily and the placebo group. Researchers believe that the lower dose may have been more effective because it was tolerated better than the higher one. Studies in mice found Artemisia plants to be beneficial in the treatment of pain.
There is an increasing demand for food companies to use natural additives rather than synthetic chemicals to preserve food. Plant essential oils are one popular alternative. A study examined the effects of tarragon essential oil on Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli (two bacteria that cause foodborne illness). Iranian white cheese was treated with 15 and 1,500 µg/mL of tarragon essential oil. Results showed that all samples treated with tarragon essential oil had an antibacterial impact on the two bacterial strains compared to the placebo. Researchers concluded that tarragon may be an effective preservative in food such as cheese.
Tarragon is often used in the Mediterranean diet. The health benefits of this diet, including heart health, are related to the food and the herbs and spices that are used.
Tarragon may decrease inflammation. Cytokines are proteins that can play a role in inflammation. A study in mice found a significant decrease in cytokines after tarragon extract consumption for 21 days.
Tarragon encourages Menstruation. Some women who have suppressed menstruation find tarragon to be helpful. It is promoted by herbalists to encourage menstruation and help maintain the overall health of the female reproductive tract, however there is no scientific evidence for this. To be safe, don’t overdo it or take tarragon supplements if you are pregnant or nursing.
Tarragon relieves tooth pain due to its high levels of eugenol, a naturally occurring aesthetic. Traditional herbal medicine has utilised fresh tarragon leaves as a home remedy for toothache relief throughout history. The ancient Greeks are believed to have chewed the leaves to numb the mouth. Tarragon can also help decrease sore gums.
Tarragon fights bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus (the cause of Staph infection) and Escherichia coli (E.coli). Boils, impetigo, food poisoning, cellulitis and toxic shock syndrome are all examples of diseases that can be caused by Staphylococcus bacteria. Some kinds of E. coli can cause diarrhoea, while others cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, pneumonia, and other illnesses. The essential oil of tarragon has proven antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. A 2012 study published in the Iranian Journal of Microbiology highlights that not only can tarragon essential oil kill dangerous bacteria, it is an excellent choice as a natural preservative, especially in cheese.
**SFG spacing 1 per grid  
Propagation: Root Division August, September, October, November (equates to last month of winter right through spring for you).
Semi-hardwood cuttings September, October, November, December, January, February (equates to spring and summer for you).
I'm a cold climate grower as far as Australia is concerned, equating to zone 9A in the USA I believe.

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Post  sanderson 5/18/2023, 12:41 pm

Hip2B wrote:Hi David,

I have French Tarragon, however I don't think it would be in great shape by the time it arrived if I sent it to you.

I'm in a dry hot Zone 9B and grewn tarragon from seed when I first started SFG. It then grew as a perennial for a handful of years. I tried to start some from seed this spring and failed, so I bought a start from a nursery labeled French Tarragon.

I only use it as a dried herb with fish so my needs are low.


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