Smith County Master Gardener
Tagetes lucida really is a true marigold, but one that can be eaten. A perennial herb, that is nearly evergreen except in the coldest winters and a fair substitute for French Tarragon, which melts in our heat. Often called Texas Tarragon (we claim any plant that is happy here), this little marigold provides leaves for a delicious tea, a tarragon substitute, and bright golden flowers to drench our herb gardens with sunshine.
Growing up to 3 feet tall, but easily kept shorter, Mexican Mint Marigold is a fun little herb to have. I love gathering a handful of its leaves and a handful of peppermint leaves for a delicious tea.
I have served it hot and cold and it is delicious. I enjoy drying the leaves and flowers so I can make the tea all winter. Float a few flowers in a cup of hot tea and enjoy the aroma and the taste. I can't say how well it substitutes for French Tarragon, because I do not use tarragon, but others say it is a good one. Mexican Mint Marigold can be grown outside all year as long as winter drainage is good or grow it in a pot.
The plant grows upright in full sun and makes a lovely container plant. It needs all day sun. It will grow in shade, but becomes floppy and blooms little.
Mexican Mint Marigold is not the drop dead gorgeous plant that knocks your socks off, but in late fall it is lovely and it does provide a flavorful tea as well as a tarragon substitute.
Dee Bishop is a Smith County Master Gardener. She writes about plants in the Tyler Rose Garden.