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When tarragon is referred to by its species name without mentioning the cultivar or variety, it is generally Russian tarragon. Not to be confused with French tarragon, Artemisia dracunculus var. sativa, considered superior for cooking. Both tarragons, however, are edible and medicinal. Eating it can pose problems for dogs, cats, and horses. Russian tarragon is hardier (both taller and wider) than the French and can be grown from seed, whereas French tarragon cannot. You can direct sow the seeds in the spring after the last frost has passed and the soil has warmed up, but it’s generally recommended to start them indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost. Sow thinly on the surface. Germination usually occurs within 2-4 weeks; thin as needed and transplant outdoors after the last frost, when they’re about 3 inches tall. Note that while stratification is not strictly necessary, it can significantly improve germination rates and increase the chances of success. To stratify, refrigerate in moist paper towel for 2-4 weeks.

Artemisia dracunculus, Russian Tarragon

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