Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) is a perennial herb that is prized for its aromatic, flavorful leaves. This herb is a member of the daisy family and is native to central Asia.
Today we’ll look at everything involved with growing tarragon from cuttings.
The tarragon plant is a perennial with stocky, wooden stems that produce robust and flavorful sprigs of tarragon. You’ve likely used this herb while cooking before, or at least ate a dish that included tarragon. Smells and tastes like licorice!
But how do you start?
While growing tarragon from seed is certainly an option for most varieties (except for Russian tarragon), growing tarragon from cuttings can be an interesting experience and doesn’t even require you to own a tarragon plant.
Quick disclaimer: the more common types of tarragon are: Russian, Mexican and French. Tips for propagating, caring, and growing will vary depending on the variety. For the purpose of this article, the information will be applicable to all three for the most part.
Can tarragon be grown from cuttings?
Yes, tarragon can be grown by cuttings, also known as propagating tarragon. Propagating simply means producing a plant that is identical (genetically speaking) to its parent by means of dividing, taking cuttings, etc.
Some plants are more difficult to propagate than others, but with tarragon, a little patience and plant care will result in your very own little tarragon bush!
Today, we’ll discuss how to grow tarragon from cuttings.
How to grow tarragon from cuttings
To grow tarragon from cuttings, you’ll need:
- A small pot (3″ is good with good drainage) or growing area with some potting soil
- Rooting hormone (optional)
Before we get into the specific steps, it should be noted that growing tarragon from cuttings is a lengthy process. Depending on the strategy taken, it could take as long as a year until you can harvest and eat from your new tarragon plant.
Step-by-step on how to propagate tarragon
Here’s a rundown of everything involved with growing tarragon from cuttings.
1. Get a hold of some tarragon!
To start, you’ll need some tarragon cuttings of course.
If you are growing your own tarragon, simply cutting off some healthy, non-flowering sprigs of tarragon will do. No need to cut off full branches — sprigs that are 4-6″ long will be great.
It’s recommended to choose stems that are mature, but not “woody.”
If you aren’t currently growing tarragon and don’t know of anyone who is willing to share theirs, most grocery stores or farmers’ markets sell packs or bunches of fresh tarragon. While it’s certainly preferable to cut sprigs straight from a plant, some fresh sprigs of tarragon that are purchased should be fine to get started.
2. Strip leaves off the bottom 2″ of the tarragon sprig
Once you have a tarragon sprig, strip off the leaves on the lower end of the stem — you’ll want about 2″ of the bare stem, which will serve as the base for future roots!
If you are ready to propagate the sprig right away, cut the tip of the sprig at a 45-degree angle. This will ensure some fresh exposure to the center of the sprig.
3. [Optional] Dip the stem into a growth hormone
At this point, you have the option of dipping the sprig’s bare stem into a rooting hormone.
Using a growth hormone is optional, especially when it comes to tarragon, which you’ll likely be consuming down the road. In some cases, it may be necessary for healthier roots, but in many cases, you can get by without it.
If you do want to use a growth hormone for a faster and healthier root system, you can purchase either the powder or gel form at your local garden center. Then, simply dip your stem into some water and tip into the growth hormone.
When propagating tarragon with a rooting hormone, keep in mind that most hormones (whether in powder or gel form) will require you to wait until a full year before consuming any part of the plant.
4. Start the root structure
If you choose to start the plant with a growth hormone, you can plant the stem in a potting soil mix to ensure that it has good draining. Since these are just little sprigs at this point, planting them in a small pack or pot is preferable. This will allow you to move the plant around if needed.
Some gardeners will use what’s called a dibble stick to poke a hole in the soil mixture and then place the stem in the hole. This probably isn’t necessary for tarragon, but it can be used.
If you aren’t using a growth hormone, you’ll want to establish a root structure before planting in soil. To do this, you can place your tarragon plant in a glass of water, with the 2″ of bare stem fully submerged.
After 3-4 weeks you should start seeing roots sprouting out of the stem.
Once you have some mature roots, the plant is ready to plant in potting soil! Make sure the sprig’s stem has good contact with the soil so that the root system can grow immediately into the soil.
You can mist the plant at this point and continue to mist it lightly over the coming weeks.
Do this when the soil temperature is between 60-70 degrees Ferineheit. If you plant too early the sprigs may not take root and planting too late may result in a plant that struggles to take off due to the heat (tarragon is a cooler weather-loving herb).
5. Wait 6-8 weeks for the maturing plant
Depending on what time you are propagating, the time it will take to root up and grow will vary. Typically, after 6-8 weeks you’ll start seeing some indicators of growth.
It’s best to store your tarragon plant in a warm, humid area. If you have a greenhouse, this climate is perfect! If not, you can achieve the same effect by putting a plastic bag over the plant and container. Depending on the outside climate that you are growing in, keeping the plant outside may be good enough.
If you notice that the leaves start to turn yellow after a few weeks, it may be due to transplant shock (much like us humans, plants don’t like sudden change). In this case, simply trim off the yellow leaves and prepare for more growth.
6. Care for your new tarragon plant!
Now that you have your plant started, its time to start treating it like any young plant you would purchase at a greenhouse or growing center. Make sure the tarragon plant gets plenty of sunlight, and water (keeping the top level of soil damp is great!) and care is going to be crucial.
Eventually, the tarragon plant will outgrow its original pot and you can plant this perennial directly in the ground for tarragon for years to come!
When planting the tarragon in its final spot, space the plants so that they have a few feets in between each plant. Tarragons love to spread into bushy plants so they’ll need some room for that.
Cut back Tarragon throughout the season. Tarragon grows back great!
Tarragon will come back again in the spring in most climates. This will differ depending on the type of tarragon you are growing (Mexican tarragon loves the heat and will be different).
Summary: growing tarragon from cuttings
To summarize, tarragon is a great herb to try growing from cuttings!
To propagate your tarragon, you can follow these steps:
- Get a hold of some tarragon (either from an existing plant or from your grocery store)
- Strip off leaves from each stem’s bottom 2″
- Dip the stem in a growth hormone and plant in potting soil (optional – see step 4 for an alternative option)
- Place the stem in a glass of water for a few weeks until mature roots have grown before planting
- Store the stem and pot in a humid climate and water occasionally for 6-8 weeks
- Care for your new tarragon plant.