Difficulty growing Tarragon well

Ottawa, ON(Zone 5a)

Hi folks,

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?


Middleburgh, NY

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.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

OK, time to find a good place for another little "pocket garden"... sounds like good drainage is the key! Thanks

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

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.

Ottawa, ON(Zone 5a)

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.

Conneaut, OH(Zone 5a)

I have had mine in the ground for several years.This is the first year it really took off.Maybe it takes awhile to establish itself? Edge

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

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.

Thumbnail by bariolio
Ottawa, ON(Zone 5a)

I might look for that. All my tarragon in the garden died and the newest one which is still in a pot is looking pretty sad. I'm thinking I don't have enough sun left for it to do really well.

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

And now that I notice that you are living in Ontario, you might look at the growing conditions for MMMarigold! It grows well in Houston but not sure about cold hardiness. Good luck!

Cedarhome, WA(Zone 8b)

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.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

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.

Houston, TX(Zone 8a)

French tarragon flourished in upstate New York (Fingerlakes); but I've never had any survive here in Texas. :( I love it though so I'm just gonna consider its an annual here.

Millbury, MA(Zone 5a)

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!

Ottawa, ON(Zone 5a)

Maybe that's what I need to do - plant them along the driveway where it's hot and dry.

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