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Grown for its boldly colored leaves, shiso is a container gardener’s dream plant. Exceptionally tolerant of high heat and dry growing conditions, shiso looks good through summer’s hottest days. Pair it with other heat lovers, such as lantana and mandevilla, or simply fill a container with several shiso plants for a pretty pot from spring until frost.
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garden plans for Shiso
A popular plant in Asian cuisine, shiso's purple-red leaves are used to color and flavor vinegar and make beautiful pink rice. The leaves are also a wonderful addition to salads—you'll love the color, texture, and flavor. Count on the leaves to have a unique flavor that is reminiscent of a mint-basil combo.
Shiso can be tough to find at your local nursery. Ask specialty nurseries in your area for this edible annual. Shiso is easy to grow from seed, so look for seeds via online mail order sources.
Shiso Care Must-Knows
Shiso grows best in moist, loose soil that is rich in organic matter. While full sun is best, shiso will grow in part shade, too. This easy-care annual is exceptionally tolerant of both heat and drought.
Plant nursery-grown transplants in spring after all chance of frost has passed. Plants can also be started from seed indoors and then planted in the garden 8 to 12 weeks before the last frost. Or direct seed in the garden after the last frost. Sow seeds shallowly, covering with just a sprinkle of fine soil—light is required for germination. Thin seedlings to 6 to 12 inches apart when they are 3 inches tall. Leaves may be harvested for fresh use as soon as plants are established.
Shiso will become weedy if allowed to self-seed. Prevent excessive self-seeding by deadheading spent flowers promptly. If desired, maintain compact bushy plants by pinching stem tips anytime. The plant will respond to pinching by sending out new side shoots.
Shiso is easy to grow as a houseplant. Simply dig up garden plants in early fall and transplant into a container. Place the container in a bright, sunny window and water regularly for good growth.