Perilla frutescens cv crispa, or Beefsteak Plant, is a hardy annual that is native to Asia. The purple to bronze leaves are lacinate-dentate to 5 inches (12.5 cm) long. Plants will reach up to 30 inches (0.7 m) tall, with a spread up to 18 inches (45 cm) wide. They are extremely fast growers. The aromatic leaves of the plant can be eaten as a vegetable or used as a seasoning. The crushed leaves have an odor resembling basil, and the plant is sometimes called Chinese Basil. The seeds of the plant yield very rich edible oil. Whether grown in containers or in the landscape, they are very showy as accent plants. Flower heads should be removed as the plants can become very weedy in the landscape. They are grown in all USDA zones.
Blooming: In the greenhouse and in the landscape, the plants bloom in early autumn. The very small whitish flowers are in terminal racemes.
Culture: Perilla frutescens cv crispa need full sun to partial shade, with a moist, well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 1 part sand or perlite. The plants are well watered and allowed to dry slightly before watering again. They are fertilized on a monthly basis with a balanced fertilizer. In container or in the landscape, the plants cannot take extended drought-like conditions for very long. We grow these all year long and after flowering, the seeds are collected and the plants are discarded. Once plants have flowered, they lose their vigor very quickly.
Propagation: Perilla frutescens cv crispa is propagated by cuttings or from seed. Seed will germinate 7-14 days after sowing.
Perilla frutescens cv crispa was featured as Plant of the Week September 21-27, 2007.
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Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.