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. 

Person potting herbs
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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

Stacey Nguyen
Stacey's work has appeared on sites such as POPSUGAR, HelloGiggles, Buzzfeed, The Balance, TripSavvy, and more. When she's…
The best Christmas herbs to grow to infuse the Yuletide spirit into your home
Your guide to choosing and growing delicious and fragrant holiday herbs
Sprigs of Christmas herbs next to holly and twine

Towering trees and bold poinsettias aren’t the only foliage plants that tell you it's time for the holidays. When it comes to channeling the Yuletide spirit, festive Christmas herbs and spices are great for brewing teas, garnishing dishes, and infusing the home with aromatherapy to counter holiday stress. If you’re wondering what kinds of herbs are hardy enough for the holiday season and how you can grow and use them, we’ve got you covered. 

Perhaps the most famous holiday herb of them all is peppermint, which is beloved for its fresh and cooling taste. We love a striped candy cane as much as the next person, but you can definitely go straight to the source if you don’t have much of a sweet tooth.

Read more
Here’s how often you should be fertilizing your indoor plants
Here's what to know about fertilizing indoor plants
A person laying out all the materials to fertilize a houseplant

Many people use fertilizers to make up for poor soil or to give plants a boost right before blooming or fruiting. Using fertilizers in outdoor gardens can be fairly simple, but what about indoor plants? You can usually use the same fertilizers for both indoor and outdoor gardens, but that doesn't mean using them in the same way.

Indoor plants have less soil, so you might wonder if they need a different amount of fertilizer or a different fertilizer schedule. If you're asking, "How often should you fertilize indoor plants?" -- we have answers.

Read more
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