French Tarragon and its total Lifespan

ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)May 26, 2008

Would like to know how long the French Tarragon lasts outdoors when planted in zone 6. Last year, I bought what was supposed to be French T, but was not, as it had almost no taste or smell. I left it to die out, and this spring it shot up new green shoots. I pulled the clump up, as it wasn't to my liking. I bought some French Tarragon plants from Richters this year, just 3, and they are quite small. I want to plant two outside in the same place as the other poor tarragon was growing, and put the third plant I got, into a 6 inch pot, so I can bring it indoors for the winter. Several years ago, I was given a free French Tarragon plant and left it outdoors, but in a pot. It was taken indoors before any frosts, and had died back once the winter set in. I kept it on a window sill above my kitchen sink. I kept watering it all winter and the following spring about 8 new shoots started to sprout up. Once they were big enough, I cut into the root mass and seperated the clump into 3 pieces. Two were planted outside, and the third was left in the pot. They all survived the seperation quite well. The SECOND year (spring), none of the French tarragon had shown any signs of life, neither the outdoor plants, nor the one in a pot for the indoor winter. I read someplace where these only have a two year lifespan, but how would they survive and create new plants, if they had only two growing years? You can't start these from seeds, and rooted cuttings might be possible, but there again they would have to be new cuttings every two years. Correct me if I am wrong.

My thyme, started from seeds indoors, from last years spring planting is now got a few small flowers. It survived quite well here. I'm hoping to plant some of the Tarragon near it, but want to be able to see it survive without having to buy new plants every two years if possible..

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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

I've tried overwintering tarragon outdoors a few times with poor success. The plants either didn't come back at all or came back as puny stunted things that didn't get a chance to survive the next winter since they were gone by fall. I don't know about its lifespan but from my experience I would say that it isn't very cold-hardy and/or long-lived.


    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 4:32PM
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Ken, my French tarragon lives for many, many years. The only time I have ever lost one during the winter was our year with voles! Danged things. I have one circle planted with French tarragon in the center and thyme around the perimeter. Have another bed with roses and French tarragon. And then, a bed of nothing but French tarragon. I don't mulch the crowns for winter, just leave them be and they seem very happy. how much snow cover do you get where you live? I haven't tried bringing tarragon inside for the winter, don't know how they fare like that.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 6:27AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

The location where the old tarragon that DID survive was next to my thyme plants, which were started from seeds I bought last year, and its now flowering. My original tarragon was not the real thing as it had no real taste or smell. It did send up new shoots this spring, but was all pulled due to it being a fake. Snow here can be 2-3 feet in bad winter. Very close to the glass greenhouse the snow will melt first because the glass walls of the greenhouse because of the sun and the heating up inside. As mentioned, I tried both indoor and outdoor tarragon to see if it would survive a winter. The only one that did survive was the single pot I had on my kitchen window sill over the first winter months, and was quite a surprise to me, as it had looked like it was completely dead. That second fall, the one still in the pot never came back the following spring.

Voles here destroyed every single crocus and tulip bulb, as well as several iris roots. I used to have about 500 bulbs that showed up in spring. Now, I only have a few paperwhites, and a couple of other bulbs. Because I grow some saffron crocus, I decided to put down a metal acreen as a shield below the planted bulbs, as well as a gritty substance that is supposed to irritate the diggers.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 8:48AM
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I have a French Terragon that is 5 plus feet tall and growing. I dies down in winter and comes back to rapid and very quick life by Spring. It is French Terragon and like yours, it also does ot have much pungency to it, but once picked and sit for a while it develops a lovely aroma.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 5:52AM
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My French tarragon has the definite pungency to it and right away. I can't overwinter saffron crocus - I have to winter over in pots. The snow cover often helps tarragon make it through the winter. It always dies back to its roots, but quickly comes up in the spring. Ken, if you are ever in my neck of the woods (southwest of Albany NY), stop by and I will give you a start of my tarragon!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 8:07AM
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karen_b(6a s.c. PA)

Correct me if I'm wrong but French tarragon is supposed to taste like anise? Is a perennial herb, that will die back after the first hard frost. I am always thinning it and drying it for salad dressings. I have the parent plant, which is over 5 yrs old, in full sun. Last year I took a rooting and planted in my home herb garden which doesn't get what one would call full sun, it just started showing up in the garden...I think it's going to make it. If not I'll just dig out another root from the parent.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 12:58PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Yes, the French tarragon does have an immediate and noticeable taste and smell. The Mexican or Russian type I was sold, had no flavor or smell, even after it was dried. I was hoping to add some sprigs to some white balsamic vinegar, but after finding it bland, decided not to bother. Tarragon is a little like cilantro, you either like it, or hate it. They are two distict herbs, and both are unique in flavor and aroma. I don't detect any hint of anise in mine, but do smell some anise in basil.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 1:30PM
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You probably planted Russian Tarragon. That doesn't smell or taste like French Tarragon. Unfortunately, this stuff comes backs and is very vigorous. I suggest pulling it out.

You're right, French Tarragon cannot be propagated from seed, only cuttings or division.

French Tarragon is cold sensitive, but it is a perennial. I live in Victoria BC, the so-called banana belt. My Fr.Tarragon is peeking up above the soil line now (April 19).

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 6:55PM
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Can I start a cutting from grocery store tarragon? Whats the best method? Will it need rooting hormone?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 1:02AM
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opal52(z7b GA)

I started some from fresh tarragon I bought at the Farmer's Market. I had to wait until they had bundles of it that had what is equivalent to stem cuttings. Much of the time, the fresh tarragon is small tip cuttings which I think would not work well. Also, buy it when it is as fresh cut as possible. I used rooting hormone, placed the stem cuttings in moistened perlite and put a plastic bag around the whole thing. I misted the cuttings daily. Took about three weeks for roots to start forming.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 5:25PM
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i have several french tarragons roughly 10 years old, it does root fairly well from cuttings... in general i would not suggest misting cuttings every day... as long as the rooting medium is moist you should be ok just keeping them covered with a dome or a bag... in my experience too much direct surface moisture on cuttings can lead to stem rot at the surface.

another important consideration with cuttings is keeping them out of very bright light...fluorescents work well, anything brighter less so. ymmv.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 4:47PM
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