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.
- Part Sun,
- Under 6 inches,
- 6 to 12 inches,
- 1 to 3 feet
- To 2 feet wide
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.
More Varieties of Shiso
Purple beefsteak plant
This Perilla frutescens variety bears citrus-scented purple leaves that have a metallic bronze overlay. It grows 3 feet tall and 1 foot wide and can self-seed vigorously in the garden.
This selection of Perilla bears burgundy leaves with a magenta-red stripe down the center and is often confused with coleus. It grows to 3 feet tall.
'Gage's Shadow' shiso
Perilla 'Gage's Shadow' bears burgundy foliage shaded with green. It grows 3 feet tall.
Perilla frutescens, or tia to, is a culinary variety of shiso that grows to 12 inches tall. Leaves are green on top and purple underneath, making the plant a good ornamental, too.
Plant Shiso With:
It's amazing that the tall, dramatic spider flower is only an annual. Once temperatures warm up, it zooms to 4 feet or more plants very quickly and produces large balls of flowers with fascinating long seedpods that whirl out from it. Cut it for vases, but be aware that the flowers shatter easily after a few days. It typically self-seeds prolifically, so you only have to plant it once. Because it develops surprisingly large thorns, it's best to keep spider flower away from walkways.Plant established seedlings in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Cleome does best in moderately rich, well-drained soil. Be careful about fertilizing or you'll have extremely tall floppy plants. Group in clusters of 6 or more for best effect.
Like their more common cousins, New Guinea impatiens provide hard-to-find brilliant color in shade. And it's not just the flowers. The foliage is often brilliantly, exotically colorful as well. These tropical plants really shine in containers, where they thrive in the perfect soil and drainage, but they also do well in the ground as long as you take the time to improve the soil and work in plenty of compost. Note that they're a bit more sun-tolerant than common impatiens.Plant established plants in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Keep soil moist and fertilize lightly but regularly.
Shade-loving coleus with blended leaf color provides vivid color and wild markings even in the darkest corners of your yard. The mottled colors often change in intensity depending on the amount of sunlight and heat. These varieties are easy to grow -- just plant them in a shady but warm spot; give them enough water to keep the soil moist, but not wet; and add a little fertilizer.When frost threatens, pot them up and enjoy them as houseplants in a sunny window until spring. Then plant them outdoors once again!