Do you like marigolds? Whether you answered yes or no, you will love this one.
Tagetes lucida, better known as Mexican mint mari-gold or Texas tarragon, provides a big splash of color in our herb gardens in the Heritage and IDEA gardens in the Tyler Rose Garden.
Texans have a very difficult if not impossible time growing French tarragon, but this little marigold makes an excellent substitute. Native to Mexico, this marigold is a real trooper, taking our heat and humidity without a sigh.
Plant Mexican mint marigold in a very well-drained site with regular water. Like many herbs, if it gets too much fertilizer or too much shade, it will flop. A single plant of Mexican mint marigold, grown properly, is a real beauty.
At about 2 feet tall and as wide with bright green foliage, it makes a statement all summer in the herb garden. In fall, when it bursts forth into bloom with its myriads of small bright golden yellow flowers, it screams, "Here I am!"
Use the leaves as a tarragon substitute or make steep a few leaves with a tea bag for a delicious cup of hot tea. In fall, throw in a few blooms to float in your tea, it looks lovely and adds even more flavor and color.
In summer, I love to steep a handful of Mexican mint marigold leaves and a handful of peppermint leaves in hot water for 10 minutes, mix with a half gallon of cold water and one-half cup sugar or sweetener. Serve over ice for a most refreshing beverage on a hot summer day.
If you need to spruce up a fall salad, throw in a few blossoms for color and a sweet anise taste. I always dry some of the little flowers to save for special use in winter and spring.
Regardless of whether you use the herb in place of tarragon or in tea, you are sure to enjoy the beauty of this little plant.