Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough

Tarragon highly favoured by chefs


Regarded as one of the culinary world’s finest herbs, French tarragon is known for its delicate aniseed flavour. Use in chicken, fish, shellfish, rice dishes, omelettes, salad dressings and sauces.

Tarragon can be dried by hanging cut sections in a paper bag in a dark, warm place.


When to sow: Indoors before the last expected frost

When to transplant: September to November

Position: Full sun

Harvest: 12 weeks Good for pots


French tarragon rarely sets seed. Seedlings, divisions and root cuttings can be planted in spring. Softwood cuttings can be taken in summer and planted in the garden or – in frosty areas – kept in pots to overwinter under shelter. Autumn root cuttings can also be taken and kept under cover in frosty areas for planting out in spring.


To start from root cuttings, dig up undergroun­d runners and place 8-10 centimetre-long pieces with a growing node into small pots of 50:50 seed mix and perlite. Or take softwood cuttings from growing tips, strip off lower leaves, dip into rooting hormone and insert into pots as above. Place in a warm, well ventilated spot. Mist often but don’t overwater.

Plant into your garden or larger pots when cuttings are well rooted. Or dig up clumps that are 3-4 years old and divide into 3-4 sections. Replant in garden (60cm apart) or pots (use a large pot).


French tarragon doesn’t like humid conditions. It does best in light, freedraini­ng soil with shelter from frost and full sun. In hotter areas, give it afternoon shade. Plants will tolerate light frost if sheltered, mulched or covered with frost cloth in winter.


This column is adapted from the weekly e-zine, get growing, from New Zealand Gardener magazine. For gardening advice delivered to your inbox every Friday, sign up for Get Growing at:

Although perennial, plants are best renewed or divided every three years as they are not vigorous growers and their flavour diminishes.

Harvest by picking leaf tips from establishe­d plants regularly (not young ones or you risk killing them) throughout the growing season to keep plants compact. They can flop if they grow tall.


French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculu­s) is the best to grow for flavour. If you can’t find French tarragon, look for Spanish tarragon (Tagetes lucida), which is actually a member of the marigold family but has a similar aniseed flavour.


Whitefly and red spider mites can affect plants in summer. Blast off with your hose or spray with soapy water.

 ?? ?? Tarragon is regarded as one of the culinary world’s favourites.
Tarragon is regarded as one of the culinary world’s favourites.
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