From the most amazing little seeds to 5 feet 7 and 1/4 inches tall garden giants

by projectbuddy


This is Japanese Shiso. It was my “try something new” package of seeds this year, and it has pleased me just as much as the Thai Basil from last year and the Lemon Grass from the year before. Needless to say, I really enjoy trying new foods with interesting flavors.

The shiso seedlings that I started indoors drooped as soon as I started transplanting them, before they were even completely transplanted. Their first full weekend in the garden there were huge rains that wiped out most of my tomato transplants, sadly leaving the shiso seedlings plastered to the garden soil.

I was ready to resow seed, but that soaking didn’t deter them. These are plants on a mission! This past week they began to bloom, and I can see now why they are called Japanese Basil at times. The flower structure is very similar to Italian Basil and Thai Basil.

The main thing that has awed me about Japanese Shiso is how tall it has grown! Those little droopy fragile seedlings grew into plants with a somewhat woody stem and measured 5 feet 7 and 1/4 inches tall. They branch beautifully when trimmed as well and demand little attention.

The overall impression of the half dozen or so plants is eyecatching, almost as if it was a well-tended shrub. The bees are loving all of the blossoms too! The fragrance of the leaves is difficult to describe. It is herbal, spicy, exotic even, though in a subtle way.

I made tea by steeping about 2 cups of loosely packed leaves in 2 cups of hot water mixed with 2 cups of regularly tea. The taste is familiar yet different that way. Although I doubt that I will ever become wealthy selling Shiso tea, it’s been a great experiment!

This photograph was taken September 2012.