How To Grow Shiso from Seeds At Home – Beginner’s Guide
With a unique aroma and taste, shiso is a must-have thing in Japanese cuisine. Based on the plant variety, the flavor can include hints of cinnamon, mint, cumin, clove, cilantro, basil, and citrus. In stature, shiso resembles a large plant of basil and thus, the cultivation of shiso is quite similar to planting basil. Here, you will know how to grow shiso from seeds in your backyard.
Shiso plant is an annual variety with frilly, beautiful leaves. This annual plant is delicious and decorative too. Its botanical name is Perilla frutescens and other names are Japanese basil, beefsteak plant, and perilla. This plant is usually started from seeds. For enhancing germination, soak the shiso seeds in water for a day before sowing. Next, sow these seeds outdoors in your raised bed or garden. Shiso self-seeds readily and it prefers full sun.
Types of Shiso Plants
Usually, there are two kinds of shiso: red and green. The red shiso is used for making umeboshi pickled plums and other types of pickles. One cannot eat them raw as they are very bitter. So, they need to be blanched or salted. Also, red shisois great to plant alongside green shiso as they look pretty together.
Green shiso is a nice plant for all types of uses like shredded, onigiri wrap, extra seasoning with tofu or cold noodles, salads, pretty dividers in bentos, and more. This variety has a bit of minty taste. They make a very delicious pesto. The leaves of green shiso are also known as ohba, meaning ‘big leaf’.The sprouts of shiso are used as mild garnishes. Also, you can eat their sea pods as tempura, preserved, or salted. When made into tempura, shiso leaf is fragrant and crunchy.
How to Grow Shiso from Seeds
The seeds of shiso are very sturdy and tough. Growers can sow shiso seeds in their garden where they like them to cultivate. However, they may take longer to germinate this way, perhaps 3-4 weeks. Sometimes, a few seeds also fail. For ensuring that most shiso seeds germinate, it is best to soak these seeds in water for a day before seeding.
Now, pour the seeds on the garden bed. In this way, your seeds will germinate in a week before. To start off, growers can sow them indoors. You can snip away extra seeding while they grow. You can use these seedlings as a garnish on cold tofu, salads, etc. as sprouts and seedlings are the same. It is important that you do not let these seeds dry. This could result in delayed germination. Also, watch this video to grow it from store bought green shiso.
Growing conditions and climate
Shisoplants grow all across Japan, which covers a range of climate conditions from subtropical Okinawa to Scandinavia-like Hokkaido. In moderate climates with slight winters, shiso self-seeds readily.
Gardeners can grow shiso as they would basil. Although it grows in all kinds of soil, shiso prefers well-drained soil. Water the plants well if they begin to wilt or go dry. If you are growing them in pots, they will need more water. Usually, they grow about 5 feet in height.
At the summer’s end, they form buds, then have flowers, and then they feature seeds pods. You can clip off them for keeping new leaves coming. These plants die in winter and they might self-sow if there are some seeds pods left.
If you are thinking when you should harvest, then you can pick leaves whenever you need them during the summer. Harvest flowers and leaves whenever you need fresh shiso for cooking. You can harvest the flowers in late summer. You can begin harvesting leaves if the plant is about 8 inches taller. When autumn approaches, you can harvest seeds to plant the next spring. For snipping off flowers and leaves with scissors or a garden pruner.
If you like to have more shiso the next season, allow your plant for producing some blooms. After the flowers have turned dry and brown, bring these plants indoors and shake them for collecting the seeds to sow the next spring.
Use of Shiso in Kitchen
Aroma and flavor
Shiso features a cinnamon-curry flavor and scent. It also has a unique minty aroma.
Shiso features a distinctive aroma and taste, which is a perfect flavoring match for various Japanese cuisine. Based on the plant variety, flavors may include hints of clove, basil, cilantro, cumin, cinnamon, citrus, and mint.
You can toss fresh leaves of shiso into fruit salads or green salads. Add these leaves to Asian and Japanese dishes. You can use them as a wrap for sushi. Also, you can add flowers and leaves to fish dishes and soups. The leaves can even be pickled along with fish.
How to Deal with Pest and Diseases
Shiso leaves rarely get any disease. They are not attractive to many insects, though snails like them. So, have a watch out for them. Otherwise, they are usually free of diseases and pests. The plant could become a weed, which invades natural areas. Thus, it is better to remove all its flowers as they begin to form as a precaution against the unnecessary spread.
Now, you know how to grow shiso from seeds. It is very easy to grow shiso, just as you grow basil. You can plant them in your backyard or grow them in a container. If you are growing them in containers, use composed fine bark and potting soil in equal parts. They do well in partial shade to full sun. These plants thrive greatly in well-drained, fertile soil. You need to pinch tips regularly for producing more leaves. Water your shiso regularly and more often in hot weather. Now, enjoy your plant!