How to Grow Shiso – An Interesting Indoor Herb Garden Addition
Shiso is a wonderful herb best known in Japanese cuisine but can be far more versatile than that alone. Learning how to grow shiso in your indoor garden is similar to other herbs especially basil or mint.
The Shiso plant is also referred to as the beefsteak plant or Perilla and comes is a red leaf and green leaf variety.
Depending on the variety grown, the flavor may include a basil-like essence with hints of citrusy mint, and a touch of anise or clove undertones. It truly is an interesting flavor if you have never tried it.
Red varieties do better when cooked in dishes with a stronger flavor that carries a slight pleasant bitterness. Green leaf shiso works wonderfully in cold dishes and has a wonderful flavor raw.
It is part of the mint family and has the familiar square stem appearance that the family is known for. Red leaf type may often be referred to as purple perilla as the leaves are often more purple than red. This coloring bleaches down during cooking leaving just hints of pink remaining on the leaves.
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How To Grow Shiso Indoors – A couple ways to start
Seed: Shiso is easy enough to start from seed. Planting any seed takes more patience before you see results. It can be well worth your efforts knowing the plant’s health during every stage of its growth. I use seed and cuttings for growing shiso and find both
Cutting: Cuttings are another great way to start and propagate existing shiso plants. Although the roots take some time to form you still get to enjoy the greenery while they are forming.
Starter Plant: Nurseries can be a source for many already developing young herb plants to bring home. I have not yet found shiso in a local nursery here as it is not a very commonly grown herb. I have seen young plants in an Asian market. Sourcing the internet you may find good quality starter plants of shiso.
Starting Shiso Perilla from Seed
⇒ I reviewed a germination tray previously here if you’re in need of one to use. They are always a good option to have around and can be used in many seed starting applications.
Make sure your seeds came from a reliable source as well, you do not want to put in a lot of time and effort only to find your seeds were not viable.
⇒ My shiso plants were grown from seeds purchased here.
Steps to take When growing from seed
- Soak your Shiso seeds at least overnight in water. 12 -24 hours.
- Use a good seed starter mix.⇒I like Black Gold 1311002 8-Quart Seedling Mix if you want a reliable starting mix give it a try by following the link provided. Pre-moisten so evenly damp, not soaking.
- Plant the seeds no deeper than ¼” into the soil and gently cover over. Plant 2 to 3 a tray to ensure better chance of plant development
- If using a germination tray place a lid over and place on heat mat, if not cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm place
- Check daily to be sure the soil does not dry out and mist lightly to keep soil evenly moist. (you should never over saturate)
- When seedlings begin to emerge remove cover and place in a sunny window or under grow lights where they will get 4 to 6 hours of light minimum.
- Thin seedlings when they have developed their second set of leaves
- You can transplant Your shiso starts once they have developed their second set of leaves
Shiso plant will tolerate low light and partial shade in your home but as your new seedlings develop it is best to give them more light energy to build a healthy plant start.
Growing Shiso from Cuttings
The only cautions I would add after watching this video is that direct tap water may not be right for you if you have a municipal water supply. These can be chemically treated and would need to sit at least 24 hours before being used for this or for watering your plants.
I also would let at least an inch or more root growth before planting them in the soil, so the roots were more firmly developed. That is my preference and I have had more success that way. Shiso also does great in hydroponics as well instead of soil and a great way to transition cuttings. You can learn more about growing herbs hydroponically here in an article previously posted on this site.
Tips and Tricks for Growing Shiso
- Shiso does best in fertile well-draining soiling. Use an organic potting mix rich in perlite and use worm castings for optimum growth.
- Mature Shiso plants will do well lower light conditions and partial shade but make sure your seedlings get a few weeks of sun to build up strong stems.
- Pinch growing tips back regularly to give your plant a bushier more robust growth pattern.
- Water shiso regularly keeping it moist not soaking. It will tolerate some dry outs, but the flavor stays richer with an evenly watered plant.
- If you want to move shiso outside keep it in containers or away from your garden beds, as a member of the mint family it will easily take over your growing space
Interesting Facts and Uses of Shiso
It is also a herb considered valuable in traditional Chinese medicine. The perilla leaf is rich in carotene and various other essential minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, E, and K are also among the healthy attributes of this unique herb.
I really like to experiment when I cook so besides using shiso in Asian dishes I also like to put it pesto either alone or blended with basil. I enjoy the red shiso in bean soups and cooked with cabbage. Having your own herbs at easy reach is one of the great ways to be able to experiment and find new ways to cook old dishes or make new ones.
One of the most interesting facts about perilla is its known to have strong anti-bacterial effects and prevents and treats food poisoning and other digestive irritation like indigestion. In traditional Chinese medicine, shiso has also been used to treat coughs and other cold symptoms.
Have you tried Shiso?
I hope you will give the beefsteak plant a place in your herbal garden. It makes a beautiful addition to your indoor herb garden and gives you something new to talk about with your guests.
Let me know how it goes and if you have any questions about growing shiso indoors or any other herb or plant I can help with. Leave a comment below!