Photo by Watashiwani (CC BY 2.0).
Green Perilla is also known by the names Green Shiso and Beefsteak Plant
Perilla or Shiso can be added to many traditional Asian dishes for it's unique flavour. It's also great when added raw to salads and provides an interesting twist. Unfortunately Perilla looses most of it's flavour when dried.
Green Perilla plants can reach about 3/4 of a metre tall when grown under ideal conditions. Perilla is an annual and will die after one season, however it does self-sow readily so remove any flower heads you don't want to collect seed from before they set to avoid it becoming weedy. Plant in full sun or in partial shade if growing in a hot climate. Keep well watered.
When To Sow
In the tropics, sow Perilla seeds during the dry season from May to August to avoid plants rotting during the wetter months of the year. In temperate and subtropical regions, Perilla can be sown anytime during Spring and Summer, from September to February.
How To Sow
For best results, Perilla seeds should be cold stratified prior to sowing. To achieve this, mix the seeds with an equal quantity of moist sand and refrigerate (don't freeze) for a week. Don't add too much water or the seeds may become mouldy. Once the seeds have been cold stratified you can soak them in warm water overnight to further promote germination. Perilla seed require light to germinate so cover with only a small amount of mix (no more than 3mm deep), firm the mix down gently so that it retains moisture better. Space plants 35mm apart, you can sow several in each space and thin to the healthiest plants if you wish.
Perilla can be rather erratic and often very slow to germinate, even after using the treatments mentioned above. Expect most perilla seeds to germinate between 11 and 30 days.
Time To Harvest
Perilla is a fast grower, you can start harvesting the leaves within 5 to 6 weeks.