Shiso plant: tasty Asian mint relations

The shiso plant is a staple food in Southeast Asian countries. Shiso can be used in a wide variety of dishes, from cold noodle dishes to hot ramen, from desserts to drinks. You can even bread and fry it for delicious vegetable tempura.

Whether you eat lots of Asian plants at home or not, shiso (also called perilla mint) is a good herb for your garden. It contains antioxidants, vitamin A, iron and calcium and with its beautiful flowers it can attract many pollinators to your garden. The plant is heat tolerant and just a little picky about soil quality, which makes it a relatively easy plant to grow for beginners.

Shiso is also known as the beef steak plant because its pinkish-red leaves are said to look like ground beef. It is also called rattlesnake herb in some areas because, if allowed to sow itself, this plant can occupy an area, just like other plants in the mint family.

Let's find out how to grow this delicious mint relative so you can grow it at home!

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Brief instructions for care

The Shiso plant is a popular addition to herbs or salads abroad. Source: jsutcliffe

Common name (s) Shiso, perilla, beefsteak plant, perilla mint, purple mint, Chinese basil, Joseph's fur, rattlesnake herb
Scientific name Perilla frutescens
Days to harvest 60-70 days
Bright Full sun, partial shade
water 1 inch a week, keep the soil moist
floor Loose humus, rich in organic matter
fertilizer Optional all-purpose fertilizer
Pests Aphids, cutworms, flea beetles, leaf rollers, spider mites, whiteflies
Diseases Bacteria wither, steam, downy mildew, rust

Everything about Shiso

Colorful shisoVariegated Shiso is both green and red. Source: monicamüller

Shiso is scientifically known as Perilla frutescens and has several nicknames. The plant belongs to the mint family and looks like a large basil plant. It has a minty taste, but also tastes of coriander, basil and anise in combination with cloves and cumin. It has a distinctive taste that you are sure to fall in love with.

Perilla frutescens comes from East Asian countries and is therefore so popular in Asian cuisine. Only the leaves are used for cooking, as the stems are covered with tiny hairs. The plant is also used in traditional medicine to treat a wide variety of health problems, including anxiety, asthma, colds, flu, headaches, and many more ailments.

The plant can grow to be 1-3 feet tall and the leaves can grow up to 10 inches long. Like other mint plants, it can spread quickly and occupy an area if you don't prune it. It has a distinctive mint aroma that you will smell while handling the plant, which makes the job pleasant.

The plant is ideal for growing in USDA zones 10-11, where it's perennial, but you can grow it annually in zones 2-9 if you keep it in a sunny spot and protect it from cold temperatures. It grows well as a container plant so you can bring it indoors in winter so it will grow year round.

Types of Shiso

There are several types of Shiso to choose from. They all have distinctive looks that will enhance your garden, so consider growing several of them!

  • Red Shiso: Red Shiso is Perilla frutescens var. Crispa and has a slightly different taste than Perilla frutescens. Perilla frutescens var. Crispa has a light cinnamon flavor and purple leaves with a flat surface. It is used to color and flavor a dish called umeboshi, a type of pickled plum.
  • Ruffled Red Shiso: The curled red shiso is similar to the red shiso, but has a curled surface instead of a flat one.
  • Green Shiso: Green Shiso is the classic: flat surface and the expected minty basil taste.
  • Curled Green Shiso: Ruffled Green Shiso is the curled version of Green Shiso.
  • Two-tone shiso: Two-tone shiso has a flat surface and is both red and green with green on top and red below.
  • Colorful shiso: Variegated Shiso is both red and green, but can be either color on either side.

Shiso. plant

The best time to plant shiso is spring. Start indoors 8-12 weeks before the last frost date. Begin outdoor sowing in the spring or plant the transplant outdoors if there are no signs of frost and temperatures stay above 7.2 ° C (45 ° F).

You can plant shiso almost anywhere when it's sunny. It works well right in the ground, in containers, and raised beds. Keep in mind that it is considered invasive in many places. So, if you don't want to risk the plant occupying an area of ​​your garden, a container might be best. Shiso grows best in full sun, but can withstand a little shade, so a sunny location with other plants is suitable.

To plant the seeds, sprinkle them in rows 1 to 2 feet apart. Or sprinkle a few in a container. The seeds need light to grow, so it's best to gently press them into the soil rather than covering it. They shouldn't be more than 1/4 inch deep. Keep the soil moist and the seeds should germinate in about two weeks. Once they are 3 inches tall, thin them out so the plants are about 1 foot apart.

To plant seedlings, dig a hole the size of the root ball and fill the remaining space with soil. Keep the seedlings well watered until they are established. Shiso should have consistently moist soil, but they are somewhat drought tolerant.


Shiso seedlingA red shiso seedling. Source: jsutcliffe

Caring for Shiso is pretty straightforward. Let's look at everything you need to know.

Sun and temperature

The ideal USDA zones for Shiso are 10 and 11, but you can annual grow them in almost any zone. The temperature should be consistently above 7.2 ° C (45 ° F) when planting shiso seeds or grafts.

Shiso won't tolerate temperatures below 45 ° F, so you'll need to bring it indoors for the winter or grow it as an annual. Growing it in a container means you can easily bring it indoors in the winter.

Water and moisture

Shiso should always have moist, but well-drained soil. You should never see puddles of standing water or dry earth.

You need to feed your shiso 1 inch of water per week. Rainwater is ideal, but the addition of a hose is perfectly acceptable. Shiso is somewhat drought tolerant, so skipping a few days shouldn't be harmful. However, it won't grow as well during this time.

The best way to water shiso is to use soaking tubes so you can water the base and avoid getting the leaves wet. It's best to water in the morning so the water has time to penetrate the soil before the sun evaporates it. If you need to water overhead, do it very early in the morning so the plants have time to dry all day to avoid disease.


Shiso will work best in soils that are mostly humus, loose, and full of organic matter. She does not tolerate bad soils, but can get by on average soil. Soil rich in nutrients is best. Keep an eye on the pH of the soil as it grows best at 5.5-6.5.

Well-drained soil is important as it prevents the plants from becoming overwatered. So make sure that the container has holes or that the garden is not compacted.


Since Shiso plants are not powerful fertilizers, you should not fertilize more than three to four times a year. If you used a lot of compost to begin with and have been adding it as needed year-round, you can probably go without fertilizing altogether. When you need to fertilize, choose an all-purpose liquid fertilizer or an all-purpose granular long-term fertilizer.


Shiso doesn't require a lot of pruning. As it grows, you can squeeze the tips of the stems together over the leaf knot to encourage bushy growth. If you harvest the leaves regularly, that should be all it takes. You may need to prune it if you can't harvest quickly enough or if it can grow a little too big for its area.


Shiso easily sows by itself and can take over the area. If you live in an area warm enough to grow as a perennial, your current plant will grow from dropped seeds along with new seedlings. It can get out of control pretty quickly, so make sure you core the flowers.

Typical reproduction only takes place via seeds. Unlike other peppermints, perilla does not produce runners.

Harvest and storage

Green shisoGreen shiso has a slightly different taste profile than some red varieties. Source: nstop

And now, for the moment you've been patiently waiting for: Harvest! Harvesting shiso leaves is easy and you can do it throughout the growing season.


You can start harvesting shiso leaves about two months after planting and continue to do so for several months.

To harvest shiso, cut off the stem above a pair of leaves. Use sharp, clean scissors to avoid harming the plant or spreading disease. Cut off as much as you need and the plant will keep growing.


Place Shiso in a sealable plastic bag with damp paper towels for brief storage. It should take about four days.

For long-term storage, you can air dry or freeze-dry them by placing the leaves on a baking sheet for a few days, either in a warm place or in the freezer. You can also store them in layers in the refrigerator in a container with salt between each layer of leaves.


Shiso growing habitShiso plants grow tall and have a habit similar to basil. Source: hape662

Growing shiso is generally straightforward, but there are a few things to look out for.

Growing problems

Realistically, the only growing problem you could have with your perilla mint is that it is growing literally everywhere. Just like other plants in the same family as mint, you will find shiso growing in the areas where it produced seeds in the previous year. If you want to contain your purple perilla or make sure unexpected green shiso leaves don't appear everywhere, consider growing shiso in containers instead of poking them in the ground. Remove the flowers as they appear to reduce the chance of self-seeding.


There are some pests that you can find around your Shiso. Aphids can be black, green, red, yellow, brown or gray and feed on the sap of the plant. You can use insecticidal soap, neem oil, or organic pesticides like pyrethrin to kill them, or you can attract ladybugs as they love to eat them.

Cutworms feed on plant stems on the substrate and cut off the plant, and Sheet roller are caterpillars that eat leaves and use silk to curl up and hang on leaves. Both can be prevented by protecting plants with row covers. You can use pesticides to get rid of them or use Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) as a natural pest control.

Flea beetle, Spider mites, and Whiteflies are all small bugs that feed on plants. Spider mites inject toxins into plants, and flea beetles can transmit disease. Insecticidal soaps are a great way to get rid of these pests. Switching crops with different plant families is a great way to prevent them.


Shiso doesn't have many diseases in general, but there are some that can occur occasionally. Bacterial wilt can be spread by flea beetles and causes yellow streaks on leaves. Attenuation off and Wrong mildew are fungi caused by too much moisture. These diseases can be prevented by crop rotation and by watering at the base of the plant and avoiding the leaves. Diseased leaves or entire plants can be removed to prevent them from spreading.

rust causes rust-colored stains on plants. Copper fungicides can be used to treat flashes of light, but rotating the harvest and removing the infected plants will help prevent the spread.

frequently asked Questions

Red shiso in flowerShiso in flower. Source: rafa59

Q: is Shiso an invasive plant?

A: Like other mints, Shiso grows quickly and will easily self-seed. It is considered invasive in some parts of the United States where people have allowed it to grow freely. However, you can easily control it in a garden.

Q: is Shiso a perennial?

A: Shiso grows as a perennial in USDA Zones 10-11, but is an annual plant in Zones 2-9.

Q: Does Shiso like full sun?

A: Shiso grows best in full sun, but can withstand partial shade.

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