Perilla (Perilla frutescens) is an annual herb. Other names by which it is known include Japanese mint/basil, shiso and the beefsteak plant. The plant attracts bees and other pollinators. It is also used in cooking, especially Japanese cuisine.

Description[edit | edit source]

Perilla is a compact shrub. It grows to a height of around 80cm.

One form of perilla has green leaves with white flowers. Another form of perilla has crinkly reddish-purple leaves with pinkish-mauve flowers. The leaves are large and ovular in shape.

Growing perilla[edit | edit source]

Choose between seed and seedlings. The seed can be planted either inside in containers or where you wish to grow it. Plant in early spring. Once growing, the plant will self-sow with ease.

Select a position in full sun, although the plant can tolerate partial shade.

Soil quality isn't a big deal, as perilla will grow in many soil types. However, you may find that the flavour is better if the plant is grown in less fertile soil. The soil does require good drainage.

Caring for perilla[edit | edit source]

Water well when the weather is dry.

Remove the tips as they appear, to help keep a compact form to the plant.

Uses for perilla[edit | edit source]

Perilla is a useful culinary ingredient, especially in Japanese and Korean dishes. The flavours are different depending on the leaf type used. The reddish leaves have a slight spicy flavour and the green leaves are more citrus-like.

Perilla can be used as a pest repellent when planted near less pest-resistant plants in the vegetable patch.

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