The Seed Saving Network

Shiso - Chirimen

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Perilla Frutescens var crispa

StoryOriginally grown by Sara - head grower at the Ottolenghi Kitchen Garden at Wolves Lane. It grew amazingly well and produced flowers and seeds late into the autumn. It has vibrant, deep purple leaves and grows to around 1m high. It is an annual but will self seed if allowed to flower. It is the leaves that are eaten, in terms of flavour; it's hard to pin down! It is in the mint family so is certainly aromatic with heavy, umami undertones.

Sowing/growing notes: Seeds need light to germinate so surface sow and keep moist by misting. Better germination is achieved by soaking seeds in water overnight before sowing. 

Seed Saving from Perilla/shiso: Shiso is a short day plant, meaning it flowers and sets seed in response to daylight hours, as the days begin to shorten. In late summer - (Early August) select 1-5 plants that are particularly big and healthy and stop harvesting from them, allow them to go to flower and set seed. The plant will begin to wither and stop growing new leaves. Allow the seed heads to dry slightly on the plant and then cut entire spikes to hang or lay in an airy space for a week or so to dry fully. Once fully dry, crumble the seeds from their stalks (removing as much plant debris as possible). Package the seeds and send as many back to the SSN as you can (a guideline is around 2 tablespoons or more) so we can send them back out to more growers.

Isolating/Cross Pollination: Perilla/shiso is mostly self fertile but can cross pollinate occasionally, for this reason it is a good idea to grow just one variety at a time.

When to sowMarch - July direct

Requirements: nutrient-rich soil, regular watering, and a lot of sun.

Harvest: June – October

Need to isolate: Yes

Seed Grown: Omved Gardens

Seed harvested: 2023

An amazing e-booklet is available through Second Generation Seeds on growing and using Shiso/perilla.

Please remember, if you’re an individual grower you can order up to 3 packets of seeds. If you order more than this, you will receive just three packs to begin with. This is to ensure we get plenty of data in return and to keep our stocks sustainable for years to come.* 

*Community groups and Experienced Growers can order larger quantities, please email us if this is the case.

If an item is out of stock we will send a close alternative.