How to grow perilla

Shiso perilla, better known as shiso in Japanese, tai to in Vietnamese and kkaennip or ggaenip in Korean, is one of those herbs that, if you know of it, you rave about and have myriads of recipes, including one for mojitos. I am experimenting with shiso soda as we speak. To everyone else it’s the herb that looks like nettles you’ll have tasted perhaps as tempura or wrapped around a fancy bit of sushi.

But it is far more than a garnish and once you get a taste for it, you may find you want a ready supply, so it makes sense to grow your own. If you don’t fall in love with its taste, you will with its looks. It’s a very handsome plant.

There are two main types of perilla: Perilla frutescens, the standard red and green forms, and P. frutescens var. crispa, which is the curly purple-leaved form often used in bedding displays (the Victorians were very fond of it).

Perilla frutescens var. crispa. Photograph: Alamy

The green form is more flavoursome and the one most widely used in cooking. The taste is hard to pin down – it is in the mint family and there’s definitely a strong note of that, as well as coriander, basil, cinnamon, anise, something a little perfumed and a hint of citrus. It’s odd and not like anything else, but it is quickly very addictive.

The red and purple forms are traditionally used in pickling where it tinges everything a violet hue, including umeboshi, the Japanese sour plum pickle. Saying that, the baby leaves of these make a delightful garnish and it’s worth growing them as a microleaf for this reason.

Perilla frutescens. Photograph: tc397/Getty Images

If you want large leaves, though, you’ll need to give them space, 30cm each way between plants, and both green and purple forms will do best in full sun, well-drained soil and can happily be grown in a pot – just keep pinching out the growing tips.

Soaking the seed for four to eight hours before sowing speeds up germination. Perilla needs to germinate in damp conditions at around 20C so it’s best started off in a heated propagator with either a propagator lid or a clear plastic bag to keep in moisture.

It also needs light to germinate, so cover it with the bare minimum of compost or surface sow. It should be up in 14 days and you can prick plants out at three to five leaves. Perilla is not frost hardy, so plant out well after any threat. Mature leaves can be harvested eight weeks after sowing and you’ll be able to continue to harvest all summer.

Perilla Shiso Care – How To Grow Perilla Shiso Mint

What is a shiso herb? Shiso, otherwise known as perilla, beefsteak plant, Chinese basil and purple mint, is a member of the Lamiaceae or mint family. For centuries, growing perilla mint, or shiso, has been cultivated in China, India, Japan, Korea, Thailand, and other Asian countries but is more often classified as a weed in North America.

Perilla mint plants are often found growing along fences, roadsides, in hay fields or pastures and are, hence, more often termed a weed in other countries. These mint plants are also quite toxic to cattle and other livestock, so it’s no wonder why shiso is considered more of a noxious, undesirable weed in some area of the world.

Uses for Perilla Mint Plants

Prized in Asian countries not only for its culinary uses, the oil extracted from these mint plants is also utilized as a valuable fuel source, while the leaves themselves are used medicinally and as a food coloring. The seeds from the perilla beefsteak plant are also eaten by people and as bird food.

Perilla mint plants (Perilla frutescens) may also be grown as ornamentals due to their erect habitat and green or purplish-green to red serrated leaves. Growing perilla mint also has a distinctive minty aroma, especially when mature.

In Japanese cuisine, where shiso is a common ingredient, there are two types of shiso: Aojiso and Akajiso (green and red). More recently, ethnic food markets in the United States carry many perilla mint plant products from fresh greens, oil, and condiments such as pickled plums or plum sauce. Perilla added to condiments not only colors the product but adds an antimicrobial agent to pickled food.

Oil from perilla mint is not only a fuel source in some countries but has recently been found to be an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and is now sold as such to health conscious Western consumers.

Additionally, perilla mint plant oil is used similarly to tung or linseed oil and also in paints, lacquers, varnish, inks, linoleum and waterproof coating on cloth. This unsaturated oil is slightly unstable but is 2,000 times sweeter than sugar and four ti eight times sweeter than saccharin. This high sugar content makes it a great candidate for alcohol production for consumption, but more usually used in the manufacture of fragrances or perfumes.

How to Grow Perilla Shiso

So, sounds intriguing, yes? The question now then is how to grow perilla shiso? Growing perilla mint plants are summer annuals which do best in warm, humid climates.

When cultivating perilla, its downfall is its limited seed viability in storage, so store seeds at lower temperatures and humidity to improve the storage life and plant before they are a year old. Seeds for perilla plants can be sown as soon as possible in the spring and will self pollinate.

Plant perilla seedlings 6 to 12 inches apart in well-drained but moist soil with full to partial sun exposure or direct sow them in well-drained soil and lightly cover. The shiso seeds will germinate rapidly at 68 degrees F. (20 C.) or even a little cooler.

Perilla Shiso Care

Perilla shiso care requires a medium amount of water. If the weather is exceedingly warm and humid, the plants’ tops should be pinched back to encourage bushier, less rangy plant growth.

Flowers of the growing perilla mint bloom from July to October and are white to purple, attaining their maximum height of 6 inches to 3 feet tall before dying off during the coming frost. After the first year of growing perilla mint plants, they will easily self-seed in successive seasons.

How to grow Shiso from seed. Shiso is a strongly flavoured member of the mint family. Its leaves have a tangy flavour of cumin, mint, nutmeg, and anise combined. In stature it resembles a large basil plant, and the cultivation is very similar to growing basil.

Perilla frutescens var. crispa
Family: Lamiaceae


Season & Zone
Season: Warm season
Exposure: Full sun
Zone: Not frost hardy.

Start indoors in early spring (mid-March on the coast), or direct sow outdoors in late spring, once night time temperatures are steadily above 8°C (45°F).

If starting indoors, use equal parts sterilized seed starting mix to perlite. Mix well and add to seed trays with domes. Use bottom heat from a Seedling Heat Mat to maintain a soil temperature of 20°C (70°F). Seeds should germinate in 7 to 14 days. Be careful not to over-water, particularly once seeds have germinated, as the seedlings are prone to damping off. Remove the dome at germination, but maintain bottom heat until seedlings are large enough to pot on into larger containers.

Alternatively, direct sow outdoors into well-drained garden soil. Seeds should germinate in 14 to 20 days.

Shiso does best in full sun to partial shade, in fertile, well-drained soil. Allow transplants to become established, and then grow as you would basil — pinch growing tips regularly to produce bushier plants with more leaves. Water regularly, more so in hot weather. If growing in containers, mix equal parts potting soil and composted fine bark. Orchid bark works well.

Pick leaves as needed throughout the summer, and harvest the flowering tops in late summer. As autumn approaches, harvest the seeds for planting next spring.

Green Shiso Cress

Known as Shiso cress also the Beefsteak plant as well as Perilla mint, this Japanese herb is easy to grow at home. In fact it can be little to easy.

Two varieties are available, a green which is known as Aojiso and red which is known as Akajiso, to us they taste they same, like a spicy, minty, basil. Both have frilled leaves when mature.

The botanical name is Perilla frutescens, it is a very useful herb, however if you let it go to seed, you may well have a little more Shiso than you bargained for.

How do you use Shiso cress?

Traditionally Shiso is used in both Japanese and Korean cooking. It is commonly used with fish, especially sushi, where it is said to have a sort of preservative or medicinal property. Also used in pickles where the red variety add colour.

You can grow them from seed as sprouts, and to us this is the best way.

It can also be used in salads, as a tea especially a cool drink. It can also be dried and used as a seasoning.

Red Shiso – Akajiso

How to grow Shiso cress

  1. You can grow Shiso cress from seed or seedlings. Seeds are fairly easy to germinate as long as you surface sow them and keep them moist. They do need light to germinate.
  2. Seeds can be sown directly, if growing from seedlings, be careful not to disturb the roots when transplanting.
  3. The best time to plant it is from autumn through to late spring. Sequential sowing of seeds each month will ensure a continuous supply.
  4. We suggest watering with a liquid seaweed fertiliser every two weeks. Make sure that the soil does not dry out, although this is not much of a problem in winter to spring.
  5. You can grow Shiso cress in containers. And this is a great idea so you can more readily control the self seeding nature of the plant.

To Buy Shiso cress, try the following nurseries

In South Australia try
KALLINYALLA NURSERY – Phone: 0428822725.
Shaen St Port Lincoln, SA, 5606

KLEMZIG GARDEN CENTRE – Phone: 08 8369 0338
32 O G Rd Klemzig, SA, 5087

In Victoria try
MT EVELYN GARDEN CENTRE  - Phone: (03) 9736 1162
126 York Rd, Mount Evelyn VIC 3796
Excellent range of herbs and vegetables, full range of general nursery lines, pots and garden statues

AJS BULLOCK NURSERY – Phone: 03 9890 3162
48 Cosier Dr Noble Park, VIC, 3174

ACORN NURSERY – Phone: 03 5141 1900 673
Canterbury Rd Surrey Hills, VIC, 3127

AUSSIE GOLD PLANT NURSERY – Phone: 03 5428 7929
126 Amess Rd Riddells Creek, VIC, 3431

In New South Wales
Try BERRIMA COTTAGE NURSERY – Phone: 02 4877 2929
28 Old Hume Hwy Berrima, NSW, 2577

BALCONY IN BLOOM – Phone: 02 9905 2462
10 Green St Brookvale, NSW, 2100

ANNANDALE GARDEN CENTRE – Phone: 02 9660 0874
36 Booth St Annandale, NSW, 2038

5366 Elizabeth Dr Bonnyrigg Heights, NSW, 2177

Shiso is a member of the mint family. It strongly resembles a large basil plant. Shiso leaves have the tangy flavor of cumin, mint, nutmeg, and anise combined. There are two main types: green and red. Green shiso can be added to salads and is used wrapped sushi or chopped into hot and cold noodle dishes. Red shiso is a bit more bitter flavored; it’s used in cooked dishes and pickling.

Get to Know Shiso

  • Botanical name and family: Perilla frutescens is a member of the Lamiaceae—mint family.
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Type of plant: Shiso is tender an
  • Growing season: Summer
  • Growing zones: Shiso grows in Zones 1-11 as a summer annual.
  • Hardiness: Shiso grows best in warm to hot climates in partial shade; it does not tolerate cold; it is not frost hardy.
  • Plant form and size: Shiso is a bushy mass that grows 18 to 36 inches tall and resembles large basil or coleus.
  • Flowers: Shiso has insignificant lavender, pink, or white blooms on spikes.
  • Bloom time: Shiso blooms in late summer and early fall.
  • Leaves: Shiso has broadly oval, textured green or reddish-purple leaves with a metallic sheen.

How to Plant Shiso

  • Best location: Plant shiso in full sun or light shade; in hot summer regions grow shiso in dappled sunlight.
  • Soil preparation: Plant shiso in compost-rich, well-drained soil. Shiso prefers a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Shiso will grow in average soil.
  • Seed starting indoors: Sow seed indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last spring frost. Seeds will germinate in 7 to 21 days at 70°F. To improve germination, soak seeds in water for 24 hours before sowing. Grow shiso indoors in bright but indirect light. Keep seedlings away from blowing warm air. Avoid soil too damp; seedlings can be killed by damping off fungal disease.
  • Transplanting to the garden: Transplant seedlings out to the garden after all danger of frost is past.
  • Outdoor planting time: Sow shiso seed outdoors after all danger of frost has passed in spring and nighttime temperatures are warmer than 45°F.
  • Planting depth: Set seed ¼ inch deep but do not cover; seeds require light to germinate.
  • Spacing: Space shiso plants 10 to 12 inches apart.
  • How much to plant: Grow 4 to 6 shiso plants for fresh use.
  • Companion planting: Shiso roots spread via rhizomes; be careful that shiso roots do not impede the growth of other herbs.

How to Grow Shiso

  • Watering: Keep the soil just moist; established plants will grow in slightly dry soil but will thrive in soil that stays just moist.
  • Feeding: Side dress shiso with compost tea or a dilute solution of fish emulsion every 3 or 4 weeks during the growing season.
  • Care: Pinch back growing tips to keep the shiso bushy. Remove flowers before they open to keep the plant from going to seed and self-sowing. Keep the planting bed free of weeds which can compete for nutrients and moisture.
  • Container growing: Shiso is a good choice for container growing. Choose a container at least 6 inches deep and wide.
  • Winter growing: Shiso is a tender annual that will not grow outdoors in winter. Grow plants in pots indoors in winter. Place plants in a bright window or grow under fluorescent lights.

Troubleshooting Shiso

  • Pests and diseases: Shiso is commonly free of pests and diseases.

How to Harvest Shiso

  • When to harvest: Harvest leaves and flowers whenever you need them for fresh use. Start harvesting leaves after the plant is 8 inches tall or taller.
  • How to harvest: Snip leaves and flowers with a garden pruner or scissors.

Shiso in the Kitchen

  • Flavor and aroma: Shiso has a cinnamon-curry scent and flavor and distinctive minty aroma.
  • Leaves: Toss fresh shiso leaves into green salads or fruit salads. Add fresh leaves to Japanese and Asian dishes; use leaves as an outer wrap for sushi. Add leaves and flowers to soups and fish dishes. Leaves can also be pickled with raw fish.
  • Culinary companions: Shiso has a distinctive taste and aroma which is a flavoring match for Japanese cuisine. Depending on the variety, the flavor may include hints of mint, cinnamon, clove, citrus, cumin, cilantro, and basil.

Preserving and Storing Shiso

  • Refrigeration: Wrap leaves in a damp paper towel in and place in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper; leaves will store for 2 or 3 days.

Propagating Shiso

  • Seed: Shiso readily self-seeds. Let the plant flower and save seeds after flowers dry in autumn.

Shiso Varieties to Grow

  • ‘Aojiso’ has green leaves.
  • ‘Akajiso’ has red leaves.
  • ‘Atropurpurea’ has dark purple leaves.
  • ‘Crispa’ has ruffled, crinkled bright green leaves.

Also of interest:

How to Grow Mint

How to Grow Thyme

How to Grow Oregano

How to Grow Parsley

How to Start a Herb Garden

Growing Herbs for Cooking

Green Perilla or Shiso seeds (Perilla frutescens)

Perilla is a lovely plant both as an ornamental and as a food plant. Ornamentally it is grown for its interesting leaves which are crinkly and deeply veined making them stand out if used in a flower bed. Since it can reach 4 feet in height it makes a good back border plant. It is very aromatic and the slightest touch will set off the scent, so don’t plant it too close to your deck unless you love the smell. It’s a tough plant, it does very well in hot sunny locations but can also thrive in some shade. It needs very little maintenance once established and as an ornamental its pretty drought tolerant. More water is needed if you want to harvest the leaves.
Wildlife don’t eat it. Deer and rabbits avoid it. Since it requires short days to flower it produces blooms late in the fall when most other plants have ceased blooming. This makes it ideal for gardens that encourage wildlife as it is a source of nectar when there is little else available. Honey bees, native bees and butterflies flock to the flowers.
There are two major kinds red and green. Each have their own particular aroma and flavor but the basic appearance is mostly the same.

Description of Green Perilla (Perilla frutescens).
Perilla is hardy to zone 8 (some say 10) In these zones and higher it can be grown as a perennial. In zones above 8 it is grown as an annual. Green perilla is a very attractive plant with bright to mid green leaves up to four inches long. The leaves have a heavily serrated undulating border and are deeply veined and wrinkled giving them an interesting texture. The plant develops several tall bushy stems with luxuriant leaf growth that can reach 3 feet in height, more if conditions are really favorable. In late summer tall flower spikes arise from the ends of the branches. These can be over a foot long and are covered with small almost tubular flowers that are white to pinkish or mottled with pink. They are not very showy but the butterflies and native bees love them. The plant is grown mainly for its interesting foliage.
Green perilla or true shiso is a very aromatic plant. The aroma is strong and even just moving the stems will create a strong scent in the air. The flavor is hard to describe. It is a combination of cinnamon, anise, basil and some say cloves with a hint of citrus all wrapped into one. It’s pretty strong: even chewing a little off one leaf can be enough for some people.

Plants similar to Perilla
Perilla looks rather like an overgrown nettle or a coleus plant. It is a member of the mint family – as are the others – so the appearance is understandable. Some of its common names reflect this resemblance however its not a mint and not a coleus or a nettle.

Location and Care of Perilla.
Both green and red perilla are pretty tough plants. They can survive in bright hot sunshine but will also do quite well in semi shade. They will grow in almost any soil type that is well drained. Do not do well in heavy clay or waterlogged soils. Do not need any fertilization but add some organic material to the soil before planting and this should be enough. Once established the plant is fairly drought tolerant and can go some time without water. However if leaf production is required for food some water is needed: a soaker hose at the base of the plants is ideal. For prolific leaf growth some water every day is best; for ornamental use twice a week should be sufficient unless there is very little rain.

If bushy plants are desired pinch off the tops to encourage branching. Flowers can be pinched off if leaf production is desired. If allowed to flower, cut flower stalks when finished to prevent self seeding. Plant will seed prolifically if allowed.
The plant requires short days to flower so provides flowers late in the year when many other plants have ceased flowering. This is ideal for many insects and especially honey bees which love the plant.

Growing Perilla from seed.
Can be sown directly in the ground or started indoors for earlier production. Seeds germinate best around 20 C (68 F).
Sowing outdoors. Prepare bed and surface sow the seeds. They may be very lightly covered if desired. For information about growing with few weeds see herb bed preparation.
Starting indoors Seed is fairly large so sowing in individual pots or cell flats is recommended. Surface sow or only lightly cover seeds. See general growing instructions for more detailed information.

Harvesting Perilla (Perilla frutescens).
Leaves can be harvested once the plants reach a foot in height. Pinch out the tops of the plant to encourage the plant to bush out. This produces more leaves. Young leaves tend to have a less spicy flavor while older leaves have more bite. Whole branches can be removed if more leaves are needed.
If drying for later use, take whole branches of leaves just before flowering when the flavor is at its peak. Cut the whole stems, bunch and hang upside down in a warm dry dark space until dry. Then strip the leaves from the stalks and store in air tight containers in a cool dark place to retain the flavour as long as possible.
If harvesting seed use a large bin to collect whole branches at one time.

Edible Uses of Perilla (Perilla frutescens).
This plant is extremely popular in Japanese and Korean cooking where the leaves are used fresh or pickled to flavor rice, fish, soups and vegetables as garnish and as an onigiri wrap. Chopped they are used in stir fries, tempura, tofu, with cold noodles and salads. It is used by many Japanese when preparing Western dishes as a substitute for sweet basil.
Seedlings are added to salads, older leaves are used as a garnish or flavoring in many dishes. The older leaves are also salted and used as a condiment for tofu and as a garnish for tempura; it also makes a nice pesto. They are one of the ingredients in ‘Shichimi’ or ‘seven spice’ mixture. Leaves from purple/red cultivars are used to color preserved fruits especially pickled plums. The seeds are preserved in salt or are used as a spice in pickles, tempura. miso and crushed and added to mustard. Apparently the seeds of the red variety are preferred for this.
Essential oils extracted from the plant are also used as a food flavoring in candies and sauces.

Medicinal Uses of Perilla (Perilla frutescens)
Virtually all the plant is used in Oriental medicine. It is considered a warming herb and has a lot of different properties. The leaves are used to treat colds, chest stuffiness, vomiting, abdominal pain, lung infections, influenza prevention and many others. The juice of the leaves is applied to cuts and wounds. The seeds are used internally in the treatment of asthma, colds and chills, nausea, abdominal pain, food poisoning and allergic reactions (especially from seafood), bronchitis and constipation.
The crushed leaves rubbed onto the skin serve as an insect repellant; it is reported to be especially effective against ticks
Perilla Oil is obtained by pressing the seeds of perilla, which contain 35 to 45 percent oil. It is most commonly used in Asia where it is valued more for its medicinal benefit as it is a very rich source of omega-3 fatty acid.

Other uses of Perilla.
The oil is also

Growing Kkaenip / Sesame / Perilla Leaves

I grew 깬잎 for the fist time this year. I ordered them on line from the Kitazawa Seed Company and received them in the mail. I understand that they like warmer weather and plenty of sun.

I just cast them on the ground in my garden and made sure they were just covered by the dirt (approx 1/4 inch). I planted them in late June and they sprouted in about 1 to 2 weeks (I should keep better notes).

I have a few left in my garden as of today and I have brought a few into the house in pots to see if I can keep them going through the winter. I am thinking about installing a grow light because I don’t get much sunlight. I saw another of Maangchi’s readers used a greenhouse to start the seeds as well.

Mine got to be a little over a foot tall and about 6 to 8 inches wide so you’d need a pot that would handle a plant of that size. For soil, iwould just use some regular dirt with a little peat moss to loosen it up and a little bit of composted cow manure for fertilizer.
Good luck!


How to Grow Perilla Plants

Gardener’s HQ Guide to Growing Beafsteak Plant, Purple Mint, False & Wild Coleus

Members of the Perilla plant genus are half hardy annuals that can reach up to 60 cm (2 feet) in height.

They have a bushy nature, and are usually grown for their attractive foliage.

Perilla plants bloom in the summer and carry tubular flowers of white atop long stems.

Some of the common names for Perilla include False Coleus, Shiso, and Beefsteak Plant.

Perilla Magilla by Photogirl7.1; creative commons.

Perilla leaves by Matsuyuki; creative commons.

Perilla Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Beafsteak Plant, Purple Mint, Wild Coleus, Shiso, Japanese Basil.
Life Cycle: Half hardy annual.
Height: 20 to 24 inches (50 to 60 cm).
Native: Asia.
Growing Region: Zones 3 to 10.
Flowers: Summer.
Flower Details: White. Tubular. Usually grown for its ornamental leaves.
Foliage: Purple, green. Nettle-like. Deltoid. Toothed. Variegated.
Sow Outside: Surface. Following the last frost. Spacing 12 inches (30 cm).
Sow Inside: Use peat pots. Germination time: two to four weeks. Temperature 70°F (21°C). Three months before expected last frost. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.
Requirements: Full sunlight or light shade. Good drainage. Dry soil. Pinch tips. Propagate: stem cuttings.
Closely Related Species: Bugle; Painted Nettle; Hyssop; Dead Nettle; and English Lavender
Miscellaneous: The plant is a member of Lamiaceae, the mint family and has many culinary uses. It is a commonly used ingredient of many Japanese and Korean dishes.

Perilla Care and Growing Video Guide

How to Grow Beafsteak Plant and other Perilla Plants in the Garden

When growing outdoors from seeds, then sow the Beafsteak Plant (Perilla) on the surface following the last frost of spring.

Perilla plant species are able to grow well in both sunny and lightly shaded areas. Ideally the soil should be fairly dry.

If growing Perilla species in the greenhouse first, then start the process about 2 to 3 months in advance. The seeds should take from two to four weeks to germinate in the light at 18 to 24°C.

Once ready transplant the young Perilla seedlings to about 30 to 35 cm apart (after the last frost).

Caring for Perilla Plant

Perilla plants are easy to grow; as soon as they reach about 15 cm pinch the growing tips back to encourage bushiness.

The plants can take over the garden so you may like to deadhead the flowers before the seeds have a chance to set.

If you require more Perilla plants then propagation can be had by taking cuttings, or they can be easily grown from seed.

Perilla plant

Perilla plant growing herbaceous‎ of the genus Perilla, and also known as Shiso, Perilla annual plant used for the edible leaves and also as ornamental plant, leaves can be colorful, grow in temperate climate and growing in hardiness zone 3-11.

Leaves are in deltoid shape with serrated edges, the color can be green or purple, can be also in the upper side green and down purple.

Perilla flower

Flower small that grow on stalk in inflorescence, the inflorescence can be green or purple

Perilla for sale – Seeds or Plants to Buy

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Perilla plant Perilla plant care Growing Perilla plant Perilla plant leaves

How to grow Perilla growing and care:

Slightly acid soil

What is the best way to start growing?
Plant / Seedling / Seed

Is it necessary to graft or use vegetative reproduction?

Difficulties or problems when growing:
Sensitive to high temperature

Planting season:

Pests and diseases:

Pruning season:

How to prune:
No need to prune, unless using the leaves or design

Size of the plant?
0.5-1.2 m, 20-48 inches

Growth speed in optimal condition:
Medium growing

Water requirement:
Average amount of water / Big amount of water

Light conditions in optimal condition for growing:
Full Sun / Half Shade

Is it possible to grow as houseplant?

Growing is also possible in a planter /flowerpot / containers:

Blooming information

Bloom season:
Summer / Autumn

General information about the flower
Small flower that grow on stalk in inflorescence, the inflorescence can be green or purple

Thinning the bloom:
If not using the seeds recommend to thinning

Pollination is done by:
Bees, fly

Grow from seeds

Sowing requirement:
Short life seeds, need to soaked on water for 12-24

Saving seeds until sowing:
Cold, dry place

Sowing season:
Spring after the frost

Planting spacing:
30 cm

Depth of Sowing:
1-1.5 cm

Conditions for seeds germinate:

Watering requires for Seeds:
Average amount of water

Germination time:
7-30 days

Condition of seedling:
Moist, full sun

Do the seeds require burying?
No, but better to save the seeds in cold place

Edible leaves

Leaves harvesting season:
Spring / Summer / Autumn

How to harvest the leaves?
Recommend to trim the with the branch

Information about leaves:
Serrated edges, the color can be green or purple, can be also in the upper side green and down purple

Uses of Perilla leaves:
Cooked, stir fry, quiche, salad

Scientific name:

Perilla frutescens

Blooming Seasons

  • Autumn flowers
  • Summer flowers

Edible Parts

  • Edible leaves

Culinary Uses

  • Cooked
  • Eaten raw
  • Salad

Flower Colors

  • Green flower
  • Purple flower


  • Mediterranean Climate
  • Subtropics Climate
  • Temperate Climate

Harvest season

  • Autumn Harvest
  • Spring Harvest
  • Summer Harvest

Leaf color

  • Purple leaf

Ornamental parts

  • Ornamental leaves
  • Ornamental plant

Plant growing speed

  • Average growing plants

Plant life-form

  • Annual plant
  • Herbaceous

Plant uses

  • Colored leaves
  • Edible plants
  • Ornamental plants

Planting season

  • Spring Planting

Plants sun exposure

  • Full sun Plants
  • Part shade Plants

Watering plants

  • Big amount of water
  • Regularly water

Hardiness zone

  • Hardiness zone 10
  • Hardiness zone 11
  • Hardiness zone 3
  • Hardiness zone 4
  • Hardiness zone 5
  • Hardiness zone 6
  • Hardiness zone 7
  • Hardiness zone 8
  • Hardiness zone 9

SEED TO SEED: KKAENNIP aka Korean Perilla

perilla frutescens var. frutescens

We love asking people what plant reminds them of home, of family, of their people. For many Koreans and Korean-Americans, that plant is kkaennip.

This domesticated species of perilla has been cultivated within Korea since the mid-Jeulmun age (around 3500-1500 BCE). This era is considered to be a time when wild species of various plants were more formally tended to and developed within the peninsula. Other primary crops domesticated around the same time include millet, various chenopods, and adzuki beans.

This large leafed variety, as it was continually cultivated, became morphologically distinct from weedy relatives, which include Aka Shiso (the red variety of shiso, popular in Japanese cuisine), and Dol Deulkkae (“Stone Perilla” a smaller wild species ).

Kkaennip is also called deulkkae. Kkaennip refers to the leaves, while deulkkae usually refers to the seeds which were used as an oil crop before sesame was widely cultivated. It is still used as a cooking oil. Deulkkae literally means “wild sesame” which can cause confusion because it bears no relation to proper sesame (sesamum indicum). It is also debated whether deulkkae and kkaennip are two distinct species of perilla. Based on some research and many conversations/debates, it seems as though while there may be distinctions in various landraces developed by farmers, where some varieties yield more seeds, or seeds with higher oil content, they are genetically the same. I did grow a variety of “white perilla” once which did seem as though it was selected for seed production, and the leaves were not as delicious. For the most part, much of the seed available for perilla will be for leaf production.

Considering this long history, it is no wonder that this plant is so truly beloved. It is distinctly beautiful and the flavor is inimitable, which is why for many Korean-Americans, it is the plant we relish being able to grow for ourselves. The good news is it’s quite easy to grow, especially when you take some time to get to understand this very special plant.

Some facts to start: Kkaennip is a day length sensitive plant, meaning it grows vegetatively with the lengthening days starting around the spring equinox. When the days shorten and the nights are getting longer, it readies itself to start to flower and then develop seed. This is generally called the plant’s “critical photoperiod”, which marks the amount of night time hours needed to induce flowering. So, while some plants begin to flower after they have amassed enough energy to form a fruit (tomatoes), or when they are stressed and “bolting” (cilantro), kkaennip will not begin the process to shift from forming leaves to forming flowers until it has the right amount of night time hours. This typically happens around the full moon preceding the fall equinox. You will notice that instead of a new pair of leaves forming at the apical meristem of the plant, there will be a small white set of four “petals”, which will extend and become a flower raceme. In addition to this, flowers will form at each axial bud. It’s a lot of flowers! This is important to consider when planning your planting. You want to plant early so the kkaennip can grow as much as possible before flowering. The more vegetative growth it forms, the more surface area to photosynthesize, which means it can make vigorous seeds! It also means that this plant prefers temperate regions. In day neutral areas close to the equator, I’m not sure what will happen.

BEST PLANTING TIME: March-May. Though it is pretty hearty, too much and too severe of frost can kill it when it’s young. Here at the farm in Sunol, I seed it outdoors in early April around the Pink Moon. You can get a head start indoors and seed it a month or so before your last frost date.

Getting started:

Prepare a nice seedbed. Kkaennip needs light to germinate, so you want your planting area to be nice and friable. If you’re starting them indoors, it’s best to broadcast the seed into trays (like an open 1020 tray), because it’s easier to maintain an even moisture, which is critical.

Broadcast the seed on the surface. Gently tamp it in with your hand or a rake. You don’t want to bury the seed too deep, but you want it to be nestled in the soil. Birds really love the seeds so take this into account! The keys to high germination are light and consistent moisture. I use a spray bottle to keep the surface moist without overly saturating the bed itself.

Ok, so your seeds have germinated! They generally take about a week to sprout. Here’s what they look like when they do:

If you are starting your seeds indoors, the best time to pot them up into larger containers before setting them in your field is when its first set of true leaves have properly formed:

At this point, the plant is starting to photosynthesize, the roots are healthy but not too tangled, and it recovers quickly and seamlessly from transplanting. They are vigorous growers, so we give them 3″ pots to get established for the next two weeks or so.

So now you have some really cute baby plants. If you seeded them directly into the bed, keep an eye out for slugs. They love kkaennip as well and can mow down a whole stand over night. Sadly, the only thing that really works on slugs is vigilance. I put beer out which is an effective trap, and only irrigate early in the morning. You can transplant seedlings into the field once two leaf sets have formed.

At this point, the plants are quite self-reliant! Most people who have had trouble growing kkaennip report having trouble with germination. which hopefully you will not have.

Its fertility requirements are not too intense. We don’t even generally amend with compost, so long as your soil has sufficient organic matter content. Once the plants have four leaf sets or are about a foot and a half tall, we mulch in order to retain moisture. Water is essential. While not too fussy, inadequate moisture will cause some suffering. It’s ok if the leaves droop a little at the height of the day, it’s just trying to avoid transpiring water. But make sure that at the end of the day, the leaves are perked up again. If you notice sagging leaves that are starting to look wrinkly, it’s definitely time to water.

To harvest, you can either trim individual leaves from the bottom up, or trim at a node to encourage branching. A node is the point on the stem above each leaf set. In the photo below, the node is marked by a red dot. You will notice a tiny pair of leaves growing in the elbow between the stem and leaf. This is known as an axial bud. If you trim right above there, the plant will redirect energy to grow from those elbows, growing now two stems. The axial buds will take over as the primary growth point. If you seeded heavily, rather than thinning when the plants are super small, you can let them grow and then prune them back in this fashion. They don’t generally suffer even when they are crowded, though it mostly causes the plant to lengthen between nodes in order to access sunlight. If the plants are given more space, they will be bushier and a little heartier. We recommend about 8″ on any side between plants for optimum growth.

So now you are enjoying your fresh kkaennip leaves and the beautiful golden glow the plants contribute to your garden. Around August, the plants will be preparing to flower in order to make seeds. At this time, you may want to reserve a few plants that you allow to grow big and stop trimming from. These plants can be for your seed stock. The key thing to think about now is which of your plants look most vigorous and display the growth habit you wish to preserve in the following generation. Does one plant strike you as particularly beautiful? Does one plant have larger leaves? Or deeper purple coloring on its undersides? Let these plants develop as much biomass as possible so that all the energy accumulated by photosynthesis can be transferred to the seed.

One day you will notice something different happening at the apex of each plant. Instead of a baby pair of leaves forming, you will find the beginning of a flower raceme. It looks like this:

What looks like a series of intricately folded papers will gradually extend and lengthen into a raceme of small white flowers:

Each flower produces four seeds. The plants are generally self-fertile, but can cross with other perilla varieties. When pollination occurs, the white petals fall off, and the seed matures. If you look at the picture above you can see that the flowers mature from bottom to top. As the seed reaches maturity, the base of the flower will swell. The flowers look like little bells, and when the mouth expands, the seed has generally reached maturity. The seeds do not ripen at the same time, so you want to harvest when the majority of seeds have fully grown. We have so many birds on the farm, that once mature, we cut the plants at the base, and dry in a shaded area. This lets the seeds dry down so that we can store them. We have gotten the highest quality seed by allowing the plants to hang and dry, and then threshing them by smacking the dried plants with a stick onto a tarp or into a paper bag. This makes the driest, largest seeds fall out, leaving the less mature smaller seeds in the plant. Although you could wrangle each seed from the nutlet, harvesting seeds in this manner selects for the highest quality.

Once threshed and winnowed, the seeds should be gray or brown colored. The ideal storage for them is in an opaque envelope in a cool dry place. It seems as though light can effect the seeds’ longevity, in addition to exposure to moisture or temperature fluctuations. Perilla is notorious for decreased germination in the second year after storage. We did some experiments and found that keeping them in sealed packages completely deprived of light resulted in nearly perfect germination even with two year old seeds. Our seeds are stored in sealed foil envelopes in a closet that remains evenly cool.

In short. specs for growing kkaennip:

Sun: Full to partial. Increased sunlight can affect thickness and coloring of leaves.

Plant after threat of frost has passed around the spring equinox during the waxing moon.

Moisture: Moderate. Intermittent watering recommended over deep watering with prolonged period of drying out.

Spacing: 8″

In closing, I asked an older Korean friend once why she thought Koreans came to love kkaennip so much. How did it become so representative of a people? She responded in true ajumma fashion by saying, “Why do we love kkaennip? That’s a weird question! We were born to love kkaennip”. And with that, she left. And so with her words, I’l leave you to fall in love with kkaennip!

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