Skip to main content

What you need to know about growing tarragon indoors 

If you’re starting your indoor gardening journey, herbs are some of the easiest plants to grow inside your house or apartment. One easy-care herb that’s a pantry staple is tarragon, or Artemisia dracunculus sativa. Tarragon leaves yield delicious licorice and anise flavor, which makes the plant a versatile cooking herb. It’s perfect for flavoring vinegar and oil and also pairs well with chicken and fish. One advantage of growing tarragon is that it has the most flavor when it’s fresh as opposed to when it’s dried, although you can also air dry it for future use. Luckily, tarragon isn’t too high maintenance as a houseplant. While it grows best during late spring to early fall, it’s possible to collect harvests indoors all year-round with proper care. 

Tarragon on cream cheese and salmon

Understanding the different types of tarragon

There are three different types of tarragon: French, Russian, and Mexican. The French variety is the kind you’ll often hear about in recipes, although all three are edible. Russian tarragon is very hardy, although it does tend to lose its flavor as it matures. While nurseries often sell it, most people will keep it as an ornamental plant rather than use it as a flavor enhancer. And last but not least, there’s Mexican tarragon, which is technically a marigold plant. It’s not only easier to grow than the French kind but also has a stronger flavor profile. 

Related Videos
Person potting herbs

Planting tarragon indoors  

To grow tarragon indoors for cooking, start with a whole plant or a cutting. Finding and sowing seeds, especially for the French variety, can be a challenge since the plant rarely flowers and has limited seed production. Use a terracotta or clay pot that absorbs excess moisture and prevents your plant from getting root rot. Because tarragon has fragile roots, you want to disturb the root ball as little as possible by getting a planter that’s wider and deeper than your nursery pot. Well-draining potting mix soil should work well for tarragon — you can also add sand for more drainage. 

Caring for tarragon plant indoors 

Growing French tarragon in a container isn’t impossible if you pay special attention to your plant. You won’t need to water your tarragon too often since overwatering can cause the fine roots to rot. Allow the top few inches of your plant to dry out before you thoroughly soak it. If you don’t want to risk overwatering your plant, you can always water it from the bottom — tarragon especially doesn’t like to be overwatered. In terms of lighting, tarragon generally enjoys bright indirect light six to eight hours a day, so keep it by a window that receives a lot of light or give your plant supplementary grow lights. That said, it can still survive in diffused lighting situations — direct sunlight may actually scorch and cook your tarragon! As for fertilizing, tarragon isn’t a heavy feeder. Working nutrient-rich soil into the growing medium should be sufficient, but you can also feed your plant diluted fish fertilizer at the beginning of spring when you water it. 

While tarragon is relatively low maintenance, you need to keep it warm. Tarragon doesn’t do well in the cold, which is why many gardeners who live in colder regions will bring it indoors during the winter to protect it from frost. It’s a perennial herb in Zone 4 and warmer, preferring moderate temperatures to thrive. 

Pests and diseases aren’t usually problems for this herb. Tarragon’s aroma usually deters pests from hanging around it. Occasionally, you may have to deal with whiteflies or spider mites. However, a strong stream of water and an application of neem oil should take care of these unwanted pests. 

Tarragon on table
Dani Vincek/Shutterstock

Pruning tarragon indoors

If you’re growing tarragon indoors, pruning is a must since the plant can grow up to three feet tall. Not only should you harvest it for cooking, but doing so will keep your plant from getting too leggy or falling over. And, of course, pruning leaves and flowers will help your plant grow back fuller and more lush. There’s no need to get any special tools — scissors or pruning shears will get the job done as long as they’re clean. One perk with growing tarragon indoors is that you won’t need to pull any weed growths, as this usually only happens outside with pollinators. 

Growing tarragon indoors may seem intimidating at first, but it’s definitely a doable endeavor. You don’t even need to start it by seed — begin caring for tarragon as a cutting or potted plant. As long as you give your tarragon well-draining soil and sufficient light, you’ll be enhancing your dishes with its delicious flavors before you know it. 

Editors' Recommendations

Use these tips to start a successful indoor vegetable garden this winter
Want to grow veggies indoors? Here's how to do it in winter
A container gardening display

Come fall when the growing season ends, a lot of gardeners will spend the winter prepping and thinking about what they want to grow next spring — all the while lamenting how they miss having fresh veggies and herbs around during the colder months. That doesn't have to be the case, though. You can easily grow some of your favorite veggies indoors, even without a greenhouse.

Although you can't grow everything, and the indoor harvests are often smaller, you’ll be able to have enough that you can still enjoy the feeling of preparing and eating something you grew. What's more, you can even use these tips and tricks to grow fresh veggies year-round if you don't have the outdoor space for a traditional garden!

Read more
Grow these herbs for Halloween to make your celebration even spookier
Spook up your Halloween with these easy-to-grow herbs
A bundle of fresh mugwort

Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve, is a night that means many things to many people. For kids and their parents, it’s a night to dress up in fun or scary costumes, walk around town, and get candy. For others, it means also dressing up in costumes and going out to parties with friends. It can mean haunted houses and scary movie marathons.

For the superstitious, it’s a night to be wary of and to be careful not to cause disturbances between that which we see and that which we feel. And for the powers that be — the witches, the warlocks, and the gardeners — it’s a time to head out to our Halloween herb gardens and celebrate the bountiful harvest that awaits us.

Read more
Wondering how much water a plant needs? Here’s what you need to know
Tips on how much water to give your plants and when
Person watering a plant box

It's common practice for plant owners to water their plants on a schedule, doing it at the same time every day or every week. There's nothing wrong with following a plant watering schedule, but a set schedule may not provide the best care for your specific plants. After all, plants vary widely in what they need to grow, so not all your plants will need the same amount of water at the same time. In fact, the same plant might need different amounts of water from week to week!

Like people, every plant is unique and has its own needs. This is the first thing to keep in mind when it comes to watering your plants. Let’s go over how you can set up a watering schedule while still meeting the needs of each leafy (or spiky!) friend.

Read more