How to Grow Shiso

Productive Plant Profile – Shiso

Full Sun  |  Part Shade  |  Edible Leaves  |  Attracts Bees and Insects  | Suitable for Pots

Botanical Name: Perilla frutescens

Family:  Lamiaceae

Common Names:  Shiso, Japanese Perilla, Summer Coleus, Beefsteak Plant

Origin:  Shiso is native to the mountainous regions of China and India.

Description

This Japanese culinary herb is a very aromatic plant with both deep purple (red) and green varieties.  The leaves are serrated and attractive.  The flowers attract bees and butterflies and the foliage is ornamental and highly fragrant through summer and autumn.

Cultivation

Shiso is an annual to 80cm high, and prefers a sunny open position in moist, fertile, well-drained soil.  Once it becomes established, pinch out the growing tips to create a bushier growth habit with more leaves.  It is not very drought tolerant and requires extra water in very hot weather.

Propagation

The seeds germinate at 20 – 22°C and are best sown in spring and summer.  The plants are annual and not frost hardy, so they need to be replanted each spring.

Flavour Profile

Shiso is related to mint and has unique vibrant flavour (a mix of mint, basil, liquorice, anise, cinnamon and ginger).

Culinary Uses

Its frilly young leaves are added to salads, used to wrap sushi, served with sashimi or tempura, and as an ornamental garnish.  The leaves are also used to add colour to pickles and preserved ginger.  The seeds are an essential part of the famous seven spices of Japan, originating over 300 years ago in Kyoto.

Other Uses

Shiso leaves (with a squeeze of lemon) make a delicious herbal tea that has anti-inflammatory properties and has been traditionally used to treat colds, flu and coughs, to stimulate appetite, and to relieve nausea, hayfever, and dermatitis.

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