Shiso, also called beefsteak plant, is a herbaceous perennial herb grown as an annual and is native to Southeast Asia and Indian highlands. It is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae, that also includes rosemary, basil, and monarda. Growing 24-35 inches tall, the plant has hairy dark burgundy-colored square stems and oval leaves three to five inches long, with pointed tips and serrated margins. The leaves are carried on long petioles, have a wrinkled appearance, and may be green, purple or a combination. In late summer 1/8 inch long pale purple flowers appear in terminal racemes up to six inches long and give way to a multitude of small nutlets. Self-seeding is so vigorous that new plants can be a problem. The leaves and seeds of the plant are edible and popular in Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese cooking.

Type: Herbaceous tender perennial grown as annual

Bloom: Tiny pale purple flowers appear in terminal racemes up to six inches long in late summer to early fall to early

Size: 2-3’ H x 2’ W

Light: Full sun (with abundant moisture) to part shade with best purple color in full sun

Soil: Fertile, humusy, consistently moist, well-drained

Hardiness: Tender perennial grown as annual; self-seeds

Care: Low maintenance but reseeding can be a problem.

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Seed, stem cuttings

Companion Plants: Grows well in a pot as a specimen or in herb garden with herbs such as basil and parsley that like consistent moisture.

By Karen