I've actually got THREE Tarragon plants. One spindly one which survived the mildest winter we've had in years (usually they actually survive better than that) and two new ones I bought this year. None of them are doing particularly well in my garden and when I think of it, I've never grown the kind of lush plant that my daughter in Vancouver can grow in a pot (and she doesn't even like Tarragon). Doesn't seem fair!
Anyway, does Tarragon need a milder climate to really do well? Any tips for improving its performance in an Ottawa garden?
Ann, I grow tarragon well here in zone 5a in the northern Catskill Mountains in NY state. You don't say where your tarragon is located - full sun, good drainage? My French tarragon enjoys excellent drainage in a raised bed. It dies back to the ground each year, but in spring it pops right up and grows beautifully. It has full sun and gets a good amount of water, although the soil drains very well.
Quoting: does Tarragon need a milder climate to really do well?
The answer is no. It really dislikes our heat and humidity although this summer is the first time I haven't managed to kill a small tarragon plant off. It has not grown well because it doesn't receive a lot of sun ~ I believe. It does sit in a "high and dry" spot and I am hoping to keep it thru winter so perhaps it will be sturdier next year.
I think it has quite good drainage where it is, but maybe I need to move those three little plants to three different parts of the garden and see if I can find the right place. Full sun might be a challenge though as my garden is getting progressively shadier. Maybe a pot on the patio would be the best idea.
I've never had tarragon survive. But a good substitute is Mexican Mint Marigold. The leaves smell just like tarragon and I used it in a chicken dish and it was great. They also make pretty yellow flowers.
Tarragon is iffy for me as well, although two plants survived last winter and will hopefully be strong enough now to become staples in the herb garden. I also grew one plant of Mexican Tarragon (Tagetes lucida). Both the flower and leaves smell like anise. Haven't tried them in cooking, but I do intend to dry the leaves. I have read that a tea made from the leaves is relaxing, and the dried leaves are a smokable euphoric. Haven't tried either as yet, still enjoying the flowers. I am harvesting the seed if anyone is interested in any.
Ann, it has taken 3 years for my tarragon to start really doing well, and I'm barely warmer in winter than you. When I lived in Asheville, a zone and a half warmer, it flourished from the get-go. I wouldn't give up on yours yet.
I bought two plants about four years ago, planted them in very poor soil next to the driveway and so far they both have come back every year (zone 5a also). This is one of the few spots in our yard that gets a fair amount of sun, so that might be the deciding factor. One of them does very well, the other is struggling a bit -- but I think that has more to do with the fact that my mother ran over it a couple of times!