French tarragon plant: Care and benefits

 

Know in one minute about French tarragon plant

  • French tarragon is an evergreen, popular aromatic herb.
  • It grows in well-drained sandy soil with full sunlight and high humidity.
  • Watering only when the top few inches of soil are dry. 
  • Mulching is necessary to protect the root from cold and rotting. 
  • Easy to propagate by stem cutting and root division.
  • Toxic for dogs and cats.
  • This plant also fights against infectious bacteria and improves immunity.
  • This herb is effective in reducing pain, inflammation, and blood clotting.
  • It helps to treat obesity and related dysfunctions.
  • Tarragon helps to treat depression, stress disorders, and anxiety.
  • It may help in the prevention or management of diabetes and diabetic neuropathy.
  • Tea of tarragon is very effective in relieving both insomnia and hyperactivity symptoms.

Introduction

French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus (L.) var. sativa) is a popular aromatic herb, belonging to the family Asteraceae (Compositae). French tarragon plant should not be confused with Russian tarragon because both differ dramatically in their aroma and flavor. Russian tarragon’s stem is longer (4 to 5 feet). The leaves were similar in shape but larger and coarser, and it had no or less intense flavor. French tarragon has glossier leaves, licorice or anise or vanilla flavor which is famous in French cuisine. It can be consumed in fresh or dry form with fish, chicken, egg, also infused with vinegar to acidify sauces and pickles.

Common name

Estragon, dragon sagewort, or German tarragon 

Geographical distribution

This plant is native to southern Russia in the area of the Caspian Sea (1).

Botanical description

Growing season

Summer

Height

French tarragon has bushy, branched stems that grow up to two to three feet tall. 

Leaves

The leaves are shiny, slender, slightly twisted, and dark green in color. 

Flower

The plant will occasionally produce small, greenish-white flowers that are sterile.  

Bloom time

Summer (2).

French tarragon care

Common problems with this plant are its weedy look but its leaves are flavorsome, easy to grow, hardy, and drought-resistant. You just have to follow some basic rules such as:

1. Soil

This plant requires well-drained, sandy, loamy, light, and low in nutrients soil for best growth. A rich, acidic soil will result in poor growth, rotting roots, and a reduced flavor. 

2. Light

French tarragon plant needs plenty of bright sunlight (5–6 hrs/day) and also does well in a partially sheltered position. 

3. Water

Irrigate only when the top of the soil becomes dry and allows the soil to dry out between watering. Excess water or over-watering may cause rotting of roots. 

4. Fertilizer

French tarragon plants are friendly and easy growing so doesn’t require a lot of nutrients. The best flavor is achieved when it’s planted in low-nutrient soil.

5. Temperature and Humidity

This plant doesn’t like intense temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit and high humidity.

6. Mulch

To protect the root from cold, this plant needs mulching around the base of the plant. This process keeps the moisture near the surface of the plant and to discourage root rot.

7. Pruning

Prune the French tarragon plants in early spring are necessary to remove old leaves, encourage new growth, and keep branches strong.

8. Harvesting and Storing

French tarragon (young stem tips and leaves) can be harvested as needed throughout the season.  To obtain the best flavor it should be used fresh within a day or two. However, to remain the flavor of dried leaves it should be kept in airtight containers at room temperature

French tarragon plant propagation

French tarragon rarely flowers thus it produces a small amount of seed which are sterile and does not germinate. This plant is easily propagated by stem cuttings or the root division method in spring. 

Make sure to cut the stems which are six to eight inches long and gently separate the roots that cause the least damage. Remove leaves from the lower third of each stem and dip the cut end into rooting hormone.

Next plant it in a pot with potting soil which is evenly warm and moist until roots form. This plan can live for at least 3 or 4 years, but will eventually need replacing

French tarragon toxic to cats or dogs

Tarragon essential oil contains estragole and methyl eugenol which is toxic to cats and dogs. These compounds may cause vomiting and diarrhea to them.

French tarragon plant medicinal value or health benefits  

  1. This plant is used in folk medicine for the treatment of cough, cold, fever, pain, amenorrhea, and dysmenorrheal.
  2. Intake of French tarragon helps to encourage the growth of white blood cells that boost the immune system (3).
  3. This herb is effective in reducing pain, swelling in the joints, and increasing the ability to handle the pain (4).
  4. The presence of coumarin compounds in tarragon leaves inhibits the clotting of the blood (5). 
  5. It fights against different bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa Shigella (RSHI), Listeria monocytogenes, and Escherichia coli by damaging its cell wall (6).
  6. Intake of tarragon improves glucose utilization and prevents fat accumulation thus delaying the development of obesity-related risk factors. (7). 
  7. Ingestion of tarragon is beneficial to treat nerve damage that can occur with diabetes due to long-term high blood sugar levels (8).
  8. Tarragon contains flavonoids that help to treat depression, stress disorders, and anxiety (9).
  9. Tarragon tea made by adding dry tarragon to boiling water is very effective in relieving both insomnia and hyperactivity symptoms (10).

Q&A

Is French tarragon perennial or annual?

Tarragon is perennial (in a hot climate) but is often grown as an annual (in the temperate zone). In winter, this plant takes a rest (dried or frozen) and starts a new fresh plant every spring. 

Where does tarragon grow best?

This plant requires a sunny, warm, and partial sheltered position to obtain the best flavor. It is cold-resistant, heat-resistant, and drought-tolerant and can be growing in a sunny window or planted outside.

Does tarragon need full sun?

Yes, this plant needs plenty of bright sunlight (5–6 hrs/day) and also does well in a partially sheltered position. 

Does tarragon come back every year?

Depending upon the climate or growing zone, it is a perennial plant that produces leaves over several years (3-4 years).

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