Cutting back tarragon in fall?

(Question)

I planted tarragon this year. it did very well. Now it is no longer growing but is a bit of a bushy mess, with straggly stems and large woody stems as well.  Should I cut it back now? If so by how much?

 

(Answer)

What a lovely herb to have in your garden!  Granted, it does get straggly, but the flavor of the leaves is amazing, even late in the season.  Your plant may be French tarragon (or the less desirable Russian tarragon).  Either way, once the above-ground growth has been killed off by frost, you can prune the plant to the ground.  Mulch it to protect it from the cold and it should return year after year.   The Utah State University Cooperative Extension has a terrific publication, French Tarragon in the Garden, which provides lots of information on how to care for the herb.  By the way, if your plant is not French tarragon, I suggest you purchase a few plants next year – try it –  the flavour is lovely.  And Texas A&M University has an article you may be interested in – The Three Tarragons: French, Russian and Mexican.