One of my favorite must have herbs (I am supposed to be
telling you about my absolute favorite, but I actually have two – you’ll have
to wait to see what the second one is!) is Tagetes lucida also known as Mexican
Mint Marigold, Texas Tarragon, or Sweetscented Marigold.
Visually, this is a
beautifully shaped plant growing 3- 4’ tall and wide. It is a nice glossy green
herbaceous perennial that is hardy to 7b (although we might have to replant
after our extra-cold winter this year, but I promise you this herb is worth it,
if you do!).
Tagetes really likes full sun, but like most plants in our
climate, will take some afternoon shade. When planted in full sun on a hot day
you will get to experience one of my favorite attributes of this plant: when
warm it exudes a beguiling sweet scent somewhat reminiscent of mace or hot spiced
sugar. The leaves have a sweet flavor similar to French Tarragon (which doesn’t
like to grow here so much), but with a bit more anise. The leaves, best used
fresh, can be used to make teas, chopped and placed in salads, added to chicken
salad (my favorite go-to use of this herb is to add it to store-bought chicken
salad for a quick dinner fix), breads, soups, or wherever you would normally
use French Tarragon.
One more bonus: the plant gets lovely golden yellow
flowers in late summer that can be dried and used for crafts (the flowers are
also edible, but don’t have much flavor, just visual appeal).
doesn’t freeze (ha!) you can share with friends by dividing the root ball in
spring. Texas Tarragon does not like wet feet it is best to give it good
drainage and medium water. Once established, Tagetes lucida is drought tolerant.
Come visit me in the
herb garden and I’ll tell you more about my favorite plant!