Tarragon

The strongly aromatic, slightly aniseed flavoured leaves of perennial tarragon are ideal chopped and added to salads, fish, egg and chicken dishes. The leaves can be used to infuse white wine vinegar and it is an essential flavouring a buttery béarnaise sauce. There are two main types of tarragon; French tarragon, which is strongly flavoured and preferred by foodies; and Russian tarragon, which has an inferior flavour.

Jobs to do now

  • Check for rust
  • Harvest
  • Water
  • Plant

Month by month

Sow

French tarragon does not set viable seed, so buy young plants in spring and either grow in large pots filled with gritty compost or plant in a sunny, sheltered spot with well drained soil.

Grow

Keep plants well watered, especially those growing in pots, to prevent a check to growth.

Pinch off any flowers for a constant supply of leaves.

Plants die back to ground in winter. If you live in a cold area or have an exposed garden, protect plants with horticultural fleece. Raise containers off the ground with pot feet or place in a cold greenhouse or front porch.

Plants will remain productive for two to three years, but will eventually run out of steam and need replacing.

Plant

Pot grown plants can be planted out from mid spring onwards into fertile, well-drained soil in a sheltered, sunny position.

Harvesting

You can harvest tarragon from late spring to early autumn.

Snip off the shoot tips, then strip the leaves with your fingers.

The leaves are best used fresh, but can also be dried and stored in air-tight containers for use in winter.

Recommended Varieties

Common problems

Powdery Mildew
Powdery Mildew

Appears as a white powdery deposit over the leaf surface and leaves become stunted and shrivel.

Remedy

Keep the soil moist and grow in cooler locations.

Rust
Rust

A common fungal disease of many plants that can be recognised by orange, yellow or black spots or blisters that form on leaves, along with pale and distorted stems. Leaves can fall and in severe cases, plants will eventually die.

Remedy

Dig up badly infected plants and dispose of to prevent the spores spreading to other plants. Carefully check plants before buying to ensure they are healthy and show no signs of disease.

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.