How to grow and care for tarragon

Popular in French cuisine, tarragon has a mild anise flavour that pairs beautifully with fish and chicken. Rarely available fresh in grocery stores, growing your own is the best way to ensure you’ll have this useful herb on hand when your need it.

What you need to know about tarragon

Name: tarragon, French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)

Height: 40cm

Foliage: herbaceous perennial with narrow lance-shaped leaves on slender stems.

Climate: cold temperate, warm temperate, arid/semi-arid climates. Not suited to areas with high humidity.

Soil: well-drained soil.

Position: full sun to part shade.

Flowering and fruiting: N/A

Feeding: apply an organic controlled-release fertiliser in spring and autumn.

Watering: minimal watering over winter, increasing as the weather warms and the days become drier. In pots, daily watering will be required throughout summer.

Close up of lonth tarragon leaves

Appearance and characteristics of tarragon

French tarragon is an unusual leafy herb with a short growing season. Sprouting in spring, tarragon grows during the warmer months before dying down again when the cool weather arrives in mid–late autumn. Grown from cuttings in early spring, potted plants are available from mid-spring, but get in quick, as stocks are usually limited.

French tarragon’s anise flavour lends itself to fish and chicken dishes, and is also a wonderful flavour in salad vinaigrettes. The long slender stems and fine foliage is easy to use whole or chopped, and is an important component of French cuisine.

Uses for tarragon

A seasonal herb, tarragon is ideal in pots, where it can be displayed when in leaf, and protected from accidental digging when it is not. Lanky and not overly ornamental or structural in the garden, tarragon is a purely culinary herb grown for its flavour. Be sure to test the fresh herb on the tip of your tongue—if it tingles, you’ve got the real deal.

How to plant and grow tarragon

  1. Plant in full sun or part shade in a soil enriched with compost and decomposed manure.

  2. If growing in pots, choose a deep pot that will accommodate the prolific roots for several years.

Select a premium organic potting mix and position in an area with morning sun and afternoon shade. 

Caring for tarragon

Being a short-lived perennial, tarragon requires very little maintenance, however plants should be replaced every 2–3 years. 

French tarragon prefers average watering, though pots will require daily watering throughout summer. Avoid wetting the foliage, as this can lead to fungal problems. Fertilise in spring with an organic controlled-release fertiliser for herbs and other edibles.

How and when to prune tarragon

Harvest regularly to encourage new growth and to keep plants compact. At the end of the season, cut to the ground and place a stake next to your tarragon to mark the area, protecting your plants against accidental digging.

Diseases and pests

In humid areas, plants will succumb to fungal disease. Avoid overhead watering and allow adequate air-flow around plants or grow in pots. In humid areas you could also try Mexican tarragon (Tagetes lucida).

How to propagate tarragon

  1. French tarragon does not produce viable seed, so can only be propagated by tip cuttings in early spring. These should be taken every 2–3 years to replace plants and keep them productive and healthy.

  2. Take a cutting approximately 7–9cm long. Pinch your finger over the lower half of the cutting and run it downward to remove the lower leaves.

  3. Dip this cut end in root hormone or cutting gel and insert into a pot filled with cutting mix. Repeat until you have at least 4–6 cuttings.

  4. Water regularly. The cutting should be ready to be transplanted into an individual pot in 4–6 weeks.

If you like this then try

Chervil: another popular French herb and ingredient in French cooking.

Chives: a milder form of onion suited to French cuisine.

Mexican tarragon: a herb with a tarragon-like flavour, but better suited to humid areas. 

Start planting today

Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!

How to build a garden bed 05:37

Planting & Growing How to build a garden bed Transform your outdoor area by learning how to build a garden bed. It’s easy to do, just follow our step-by-step guide.

variety of indoor plants

Planting & Growing Discover 12 plants that are the best for indoors Striking foliage and stunning colour isn’t just reserved for the garden. There’s a wide variety of indoor plants you can use to bring colour and life to your home explains Bunnings Greenlife buyer Katrina Gatt.

Person planting spinach 03:11

Planting & Growing How to grow vegetables Watch our step-by-step guide and find out everything you need to know about how to grow fresh vegetables in your garden.

Person trimming the hedge with battery shears 01:28

Planting & Growing How to trim hedges Hedges are an excellent way to add shape to your garden. Here are a couple of tips to effectively trim and maintain a hedge.

Person putting on protective edging on the raised garden bed 01:38

Planting & Growing How to build a raised garden bed Building a raised garden bed is a simple project you can do yourself. Learn how to build a raised garden bed with this guide from Bunnings Warehouse.

Person adding compost and manure to the soil 02:01

Planting & Growing How to improve sandy soil Good soil is the foundation for any healthy garden. We can show you how to improve sandy soil to retain more nutrients and water.

succulents 02:01

Planting & Growing How to plant and care for succulents Succulents come in a huge range of colours, shapes and sizes, will grow just about anywhere and don’t need much looking after, making them a plant that’s perfect for even the most novice gardener. If you’re new to succulents, here are some tips from...

Person cutting the corrugated edging 03:08

Planting & Growing How to install garden edging Garden edging can help to make your garden beds look neat and tidy. We’ll show you how to install plastic or corrugated garden edging around your garden.

hydrangea

Planting & Growing How to create an allergy-friendly garden If you suffer from hay fever or other allergies, then being out in the garden can, at times, be less than enjoyable. But there are some steps you can take to create an allergy-friendly garden so you can spend more time gardening and less time sneezi...

pot

Planters How to choose the right plant pot Pots are a great way to add colour, interest or texture to your outdoor space. Tuscan Path’s Elaine Foster shares her top tips on how to choose the perfect pot.

sunflower

Planting & Growing How to plant and care for sunflowers Sunflowers are a great way to add colour to your garden, and they’re easy to grow and care for. Bunnings Greenlife buyer Katie explains the basics of how to grow sunflowers and shares some tips on how to care for them.

orchid

Planting & Growing How to care for orchids Orchids are a low-maintenance flower that can be grown indoors or outside in a protected location. And, with a little care, they will provide you with lots of colour.

paint

Guides & Projects How to upcycle almost any piece of furniture with paint Rather than throwing out old household items, you can restore them with paint. It’s a quick, easy and affordable way to give anything from furniture to fences a new lease on life. Learn how to paint and prepare different surfaces to get the finish y...

DIY balcony and courtyard garden

Planters D.I.Y. balcony and courtyard garden Even if your outdoor space is limited to a balcony or courtyard, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on having a garden. The team at Tuscan Path, who have been supplying pots to the Australian marketplace for over 40 years, share some ideas on how ...

 kitchen benchtop materials

Benchtops & Cabinets A guide to kitchen benchtop materials The perfect benchtop will add style to any kitchen. It’ll also see the most action, so choosing the right benchtop for your kitchen – and budget – is an important decision explains Bunnings Kitchen Designer Ben Carey.

Top of the content