Attractive leaves with earthy, aromatic flavor.
Make your edible landscaping pop with this stunning two-toned shiso, also known as perilla. The deep green leaves have dusky burgundy undersides and an earthy-yet-aromatic flavor reminiscent of star anise, mint, and even cumin. Shiso features prominently in many Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Thai cuisines; its versatile flavor profile means it can be used in both savory and sweet dishes from pickles to desserts. Bushy habit, as beautiful as a decorative coleus.
NOTE: Shiso can be aggressive in some locations. Here in zone 6A in NY's Hudson Valley we haven't had trouble with this variety being invasive, but the states of NJ, PA, VA, WV, MA, TN, KY, and DC do have P. frutescens listed on their states' invasive species registries, so if you live in one of these states, please abstain from growing this plant. For other locations, we recommend diligently deadheading the flower spikes before they're able to set seed and self-sow - and, of course, using the delicious leaves with abandon!
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Direct sow in late spring after danger of frost has passed, or start indoors in early spring, by pressing seeds into the surface of the soil, and keeping soil moist but not wet until seeds have germinated. Light aids in germination. Ideal germination temperature is around 70 degrees F. Shiso performs best in full sun and fertile, well-drained soil with regular water. Pinch back growing tips regularly to prevent flowering and to encourage shorter, bushier plants with more leaves. Pick leaves as desired for fresh use throughout the season.
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