Tarragon Companion Plants | Good and Bad

Some herbs are equally ubiquitous in both the home garden and the spice cabinet — e.g., basil, oregano, thyme, and sage. But tarragon, with its unique anise-like flavour and easy-to-grow nature, is far less common than it should be! 

This aromatic herb isn’t just great to grow on its own, with such a tame growth habit and pungent smell, there’s a long list of tarragon companion plants to choose from, making it extremely versatile to grow.

In this article, I’ll share the best tarragon companion plants and explore some of the benefits of adding this herb to your garden.

What Is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is a horticultural practice that involves growing different species of plants together in a single space. This method has been used for centuries — maybe millennia — to improve crop yield and garden health.

One of the main benefits of companion planting is pest control. Certain plants produce chemicals that repel harmful insects, reducing the need for pesticides. 

For example, marigolds produce a compound called alpha-terthienyl that suppresses nematodes in the soil. Herbs like tarragon deter some pest insects just by emitting a strong aroma.

The root systems of different plant species vary in depth, so companion planting can lead to better nutrient access within the soil. Legumes, such as peas and beans, are particularly beneficial as they have a symbiotic relationship with bacteria in the soil that lets them ‘fix’ nitrogen from the atmosphere.

Companion planting can also improve pollination. Some plants, like those in the carrot family, attract beneficial insects which enhance pollination of nearby crops.

Another benefit of companion planting is the efficient use of space. Combining crops with different growth habits – e.g., a tall, sun-loving plant with a short, shade-tolerant plant – can make the most of limited garden space.

Best Tarragon Companion Plants

Tarragon is generally low-maintenance and can be grown in most home gardens. It’s a perennial herb that thrives in full sun or light shade. One of the most important things to keep in mind when growing tarragon is its preference for sandy, well-draining soil. 

Once established, tarragon is very drought-tolerant. It rarely competes with neighbouring plants for resources like sun or moisture (but can grow a bit wild if left to spread).

Knowing which plants grow well alongside tarragon can help optimize your garden space and improve biodiversity. Here are my favourite companions for this aromatic herb.

Fruit and Vegetables

Eggplant: Tarragon may be a natural deterrent for pests that often target eggplants, such as aphids. Try planting tarragon around your eggplants to act as a protective barrier. Remember that eggplants also need plenty of sun, so be careful not to overshadow them.

Tomatoes: Pairing tarragon with tomatoes supposedly offers two benefits: it enhances tomato flavour and repels unwanted pests. Though there’s currently no research to support these claims, it doesn’t hurt to experiment with this plant combo.

Peppers: Peppers and tarragon share similar environmental needs – full sun and well-draining soil — and will naturally grow well together. Since peppers are closely related to eggplants and tomatoes, you can expect similar benefits from this pairing.

Cucumbers: Planting tarragon nearby may benefit cucumbers by deterring pests and promoting healthy growth. Keep in mind that cucumbers are vining plants and need room to spread, so there should be ample space between them and your tarragon.

Pumpkins: Some gardeners report that pungent herbs like tarragon deter common squash pests. Given pumpkin vines’ sprawling nature, consider planting tarragon at the edge of the bed to avoid overcrowding.

Strawberries: There’s a chance that tarragon could reduce the number of pests that attack nearby berries. Strawberries need plenty of room to put out runners and new plants. With that said, there’s little chance of your strawberries choking out a herb like tarragon.

Carrots and Parsnip: Tarragon can mask the scent of neighbouring root crops from pests like the carrot root fly. I recommend spacing out these vegetables so the carrots and parsnips have lots of room to develop without competition.

Beets and Turnips: While these root vegetables typically like a bit more water than tarragon, they greatly appreciate the same loose, sandy soil. Beet and turnip foliage also stays relatively low to the ground and won’t compete for sun exposure. 

Asparagus: Asparagus and tarragon can make a good pair in the garden, especially if you’re interested in establishing a perennial vegetable bed. Take time to choose the best location for each crop — they’ll hopefully be growing in that chosen spot for years to come!

Onion and Garlic: These plants might deter certain pests that bother tarragon, and vice versa. Garlic has been shown to alter the nutrient content of crops grown in the same bed.

Herbs

Rosemary: The strong scent of Rosemary is said to protect tarragon and other nearby plantings from pests. Both herbs have similar needs in terms of sun and soil, making them ideal garden neighbours. Plant them in individual pots to prevent competition between the root systems.

Parsley: When planting parsley with tarragon, I make sure to give each plant enough room to spread out and grow without crowding the other. This can help prevent fungal diseases caused by poor air circulation and will allow both herbs to grow to their full potential.

Lavender: Lavender is an excellent herb whether you intend to use it as a culinary herb or an ornamental. It’s one of the few herbs that prefer even drier conditions than tarragon, but you shouldn’t encounter any problems as long as the soil drains well. And, according to Oregon State University, planting lavender may draw more bumblebees to your garden.

Lemon Balm: Lemon balm is another herb that pairs well with tarragon. However, it can be quite a vigorous grower, so I keep it in a separate container near the tarragon to prevent it from taking over.

Sage: I’ve found sage to be a great companion for tarragon, mostly because they both have similar sunlight and soil needs. Sage will also attract tons of pollinators and beneficial insects to your herb bed if allowed to go to flower.

Chives: Chives, like onions and garlic, are a type of allium. This herb gives off a pungent, sulfuric odour that deters many pests. While planting chives with your tarragon won’t prevent all pest damage, it should make a noticeable difference!

tarragon and other herbs

Lemon Thyme: Lemon thyme is another somewhat uncommon herb that does quite well with tarragon. They have similar growing requirements and may benefit the rest of the garden by repelling certain pests.

Flowers and Ornamentals

Marigolds: Companion planting Marigolds is an excellent choice for many herbs and vegetables, including tarragon. They may act as a trap crop for pests and can even suppress harmful nematodes in the soil. Just make sure to give both plants enough space to grow.

Nasturtium: Nasturtium and tarragon are a great match. Nasturtium distracts aphids and other pests that would likely go after the tarragon. Plus, its edible flowers add a bright splash of colour to the garden!

Calendula: Calendula, also known as pot marigold, has bright flowers that attract pollinators and predatory insects like lacewings and hoverflies. It tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, including those preferred by tarragon.

Bearded Iris: Bearded irises prefer well-drained soil and full sun, much like tarragon. They won’t compete with tarragon for space but may produce fewer blooms if the foliage is shaded out.

Rudbeckia: These plants, also known as black-eyed Susans, attract tons of native insects and birds. They’re very easy to care for and tolerate a number of different soil conditions.

Sedum: Like tarragon, sedums thrive in full sun and sandy, well-drained soil. Consider using low-growing sedum varieties as a ground cover to suppress weeds and provide shelter for beneficial insects.

Phlox: When companion planting with tarragon, space your phlox so that it has room to grow without crowding your tarragon. Garden phlox’s tall, bushy growth provides a striking contrast to tarragon’s wispy form. Alternatively, fill the space around your tarragon with creeping or woodland phlox.

Butterfly Weed: This particular variety of milkweed is a magnet for butterflies — hence the name. Before adding butterfly weeds to your garden, be sure to take the mature size into account. It works best as a backdrop.

Blazing Star: This wildflower is known for its tall, purple-pink flowers that attract all kinds of native pollinators. At around 4 feet tall, it makes an excellent backdrop for naturalized landscapes.

Anise Hyssop: Anise Hyssop is best known for its aromatic leaves that smell like liquorice (similar to French tarragon). The purple flowers attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, which can help improve the health of your herb and vegetable garden overall.

What Not to Grow with Tarragon

Most culinary herbs make great tarragon partners. But there are a few exceptions.

If you plan on growing moisture-loving herbs like basil or cilantro, it’s probably best to plant them in a different part of the garden. Trying to cultivate all of these herbs in the same soil will result in waterlogged tarragon or parched basil and cilantro.

Tarragon spreads through underground runners and, if left to its own devices, can become invasive in some regions. Even so, it won’t stand a chance against more aggressive herbs like mint

Other plants to avoid growing with tarragon include anything that requires damp soil and/or heavy shade. There’s just no getting around the fact that these plants have very different cultural needs than tarragon.

If you have enjoyed this article, here’s a link to Cilantro Plant Growth Stages that you may also enjoy.

Citations

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.