Planting distance 30cm (1ft)
The attractive purple-red leaves of Perilla frutescens make it a popular specimen plant for formal beds, its dark foliage contrasting well with bright summer.
It is a coarse-looking plant, which will reach 60cm (2ft) high, given the right growing conditions. If you bruise the pointed oval, toothed leaves, they give off a spicy smell, reminiscent of their oriental (Chinese) origins.
The most popular variety is ‘Foliis Atropurpurea Laciniata’ which has crumpled, deeply cut foliage. ‘Nankinensis’ (’Crispa’) has bronze leaves with wrinkled edges.
Sow the seeds in late winter to early spring in pots or pans of seed compost at a temperature of 18°C (64°F). Prick out the seedlings, when they are large enough to handle, into boxes. Harden off before planting out in late spring, setting the plants 30cm (1ft) apart. Grow in any good soil in an open sunny site.
Pests and diseases
Generally trouble free.