Shiso Red and Green mix


Shiso, also known as ‘Japanese Basil’, raises a question with all who taste it: is it a basil or a mint? Neither one nor the other, it has a unique taste that is hard to describe. Some say it’s ‘citrusy’, while others call it ‘herbaceous’ – and others still call it ‘sweet’!

What is undisputable is that it can be used to give flavour and colour to many different Japanese dishes, from umeboshi to sushi and sashimi. Its green and purple, jagged-edged leaves are becoming more widely used in Western gourmet cooking and mixology, although it has been around since Victorian times, when shiso was popular as a landscape plant.

And its appeal extends beyond its crazy flavour and attractive appearance – the old martial-arts masters claimed it kept them flexible, youthful and vital. Perhaps it’s true – it’s worth a try!

Common name Shiso
Latin name Perilla frutescens
Variety Red and Green Mix
Quantity 150 seeds
Plant size Height: 40 cm
Width: 30 cm
Container size Height: 25 cm
Width: 25 cm
Companion plant(s) Tomatoes, Peppers, Aubergine, Nasturtium, Basil, Mint.
Planting indoors Feb to Mar
Planting outdoors Apr to Jun
Germination 7 to 15 days
Harvesting 40 to 60 days
Planting 1 cm to 3 cm at 0.5 cm depth
Thinning 3 cm to 5 cm
Light Full sun to partial shade
Soil Well-drained, light and moist soil
Watering Regular watering, not overdone
Feeding Not required
Caring To give a germination a jump start, soak your shiso seeds overnight before sowing. Also, sow more seeds than you need, keeping the soil constantly moist. If you need to thin them, they won’t go to waste – you can eat removed sprouts in salads.
Beneficial wildlife Attracts bees, butterflies.
Pests Repels aphids and mosquitoes.
Harvesting Pinch out leaves as you need them. Since it’s an invasive species, you will keep the self-seeding to a minimum by cutting off the flower heads as they form. Shiso leaves rapidly lose flavour and aroma when dried, so this is not a suitable way to preserve shiso.
Eating Medicinal use: Asian herbalists use shiso as a medicine to treat coughs and lung problems.

How to eat: Using shiso in cocktails is the latest trend in mixology. It can replace mint in Mojitos and Juleps to provide zinged-up versions of these old favourites. It also works well in vodka-based cocktails – add a green shiso green leaf for an outstanding Martini!
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