Tagetes lucida. AKA Winter Tarragon. This cousin of the marigold is a heat loving plant that may survive as a perennial in Zone 8, but it’s just as well treated as a half-hardy annual. Start Mexican Tarragon seeds indoors and transplant the seedlings out in May. The toothed, strap-like leaves have a pleasant anise scent, and the petite yellow flowers are edible. Try adding some leaves to a salad mix, or chop some and add it to tuna salad, potato salad, or pasta. The flavour balances beautifully with black pepper, lemon, and pear. We became fans of this herb during our field trials, where it grew with enthusiasm. (1185 s/g)
This fast-growing member of the marigold family can be started indoors or by direct sowing in the garden. Learn more about how to grow Mexican tarragon in the useful guidelines below.
Season & Zone
Season: Warm season
Exposure: Full sun
Sow indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost (late February on the coast), or direct sow 2 weeks before last frost (mid-March on the coast). If starting indoors, just cover the seeds with vermiculite and provide a soil temperature of 21-25°C (70-75°F). Seeds should sprout in 4-14 days at that temperature.
The seedlings are somewhat prone to damping off. As a precaution, just cover the small seeds with vermiculite, water from below, and provide ventilation in the room. Space plants in the garden 30-45cm (12-18″) apart.
Pinch the growing tips to encourage branching. Edible flowers are borne in abundance once the summer heats up. This fast growing herb requires little care, but it does appreciate good drainage.
Pick leaves and flowers to steep as tea or as a substitute for traditional tarragon at any time during the summer. A yellow dye can be created from the flowers of this plant. The dried plant was traditionally burned to repel insects.
More on Companion Planting.