Perilla is an annual flower known for its frilly purple leaves. Perilla plants are easy to grow; perhaps they grow too easily, for they self-sow all over the place.
Description: Resembling purple basil, perilla plants grow two to three feet tall. Large, oval leaves can have a metallic sheen and some rippling. Most types are purple, but there are green forms. Showiness is at its height near the end of summer.
How to grow: Set out plants after the danger of frost ends, in good garden soil in partial shade to full sun. Space them eight to ten inches apart. In a few weeks they will make an attractive mass of color. Pinch them back once to develop bushy side branches. Remove flowers for neater looking plants, but leave a few on for seeds for future plants.
Propagation: Sow seeds outdoors just after the last expected frost or indoors a few weeks earlier. Seeds germinate in a week at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also start plants from tip cuttings.
Uses: Use plants for purple color in pots, beds, and borders. Transplant volunteers while they are small, to fill bare spaces in the garden. Use leaves in salad or stir-fry, and add some to white vinegar in a bottle to tint it pink and flavor it.
Related varieties: Checkerboard has densely crinkled foliage. Atropurpurea has deeply purple leaves.
Scientific name: Perilla frutescens