How to Grow Vietnamese Perilla ‘Tia To’ (Perilla frutescens)

beefsteak herb plant tia-to

By Jennifer Poindexter

Tia-to may not be the most common herb in the garden. Yet, many cultures enjoy this herb on a regular basis.

If you’re looking to expand your horizons, why not start in your garden? Tia-to (also known as Vietnamese perilla) is commonly used to wrap meat in certain dishes.

It may also be enjoyed fresh. Not to mention, the rich colors of this herbaceous plant make for an aesthetically pleasing garden.

If you’re considering growing tia-to in your home garden, allow me to share some of the general growing basics with you to help you begin your journey.

Here’s what you should know when learning how to grow tia-to in your home herb garden:

What You’ll Learn

  • The ideal growing conditions for the tia-to plant.
  • How to properly plant tia-to, both directly in the garden and starting from seed indoors.
  • Effective methods for caring for tia-to, including watering, mulching, and possible need for fertilization.
  • Common pests and diseases that might affect tia-to and how to prevent or deal with them.
  • Differences between tia-to, shiso, and perilla, which are often confused due to their similar appearance.
  • Best practices for harvesting tia-to to maximize your yield and its freshness.

Growing Conditions for Tia-to

Tia-to is a simple plant to grow. It doesn’t need much to create an ideal growing location. When planting this herb, be sure to find a location that receives full to partial sunlight.

You may grow tia-to in a container or in a traditional in-ground garden plot. This plant is an annual as it only remains hardy in planting zones ten and higher.

With this in mind, you don’t need to find a permanent growing location during your first planting season. 

Instead, try experimenting with different locations. Try various spaces and use a variety of gardening methods to see which works best for your specific location.

The other main ingredient to an ideal growing location is the soil. Ensure you grow tia-to in a location with nutrient-dense soil that drains adequately.

If you supply the right growing conditions, tia-to should not only thrive but also produce vibrant blooms during the summer that come in white, pink, or purple.

Take these tips into consideration when deciding where you should grow tia-to around your home.

How to Plant Tia-to

Depending upon how long of a growing season you have, you may decide to direct sow tia-to into its permanent growing location or you may decide to start the seeds indoors.

This plant takes between two and four months to reach harvest. Look at how many frost-free days you have in your planting zone and decide which method works best for you.

Should you decide to start tia-to from seed indoors, do so six to eight weeks before your final frost date. Fill a growing tray with a well-draining seed starting mix.

Place two seeds in each cell of the tray. This serves as a germination insurance policy in case one fails to perform.

Don’t cover the seeds with soil as they need sunlight to germinate. Give the seeds time as they take anywhere from two to four weeks to sprout.

Place a dish beneath your grow tray and add water between the two containers. Watch as the soil absorbs the moisture from the bottom.

Once the soil is evenly damp, pour off any excess water between the containers and apply more the next day. This helps avoid oversaturation which can lead to damping off.

When the seeds sprout, continue to keep them in a warm location with indirect, bright sunlight. Begin watering from overhead once the seedlings are strong and growing.

As the plants become larger and the threat of frost is over, begin hardening the seedlings off a week before transplant.

You do this by moving the plants outdoors for a few hours each day over the course of a week. This should help reduce the risk of shock after transplanting occurs. 

After this process is complete, prepare the growing space to receive plants by amending the soil as needed.

Dig holes large enough to support the root system of your plants and place each one in the ground. Leave approximately two feet of space between each.

Once the plants are in their holes, back fill the space with soil, and press firmly around the base of each plant to ensure no air can reach the roots.

Then water the plants thoroughly and wait as they begin to acclimate to their new growing area.

The other method of growing tia-to is to sow the seeds directly into a growing space. Till the soil in the growing area and amend it.

From there, sprinkle the tia-to seeds over the area. Don’t cover them as they need sunlight to germinate. As the plants sprout, thin them to where there’s two feet of space between each.

Keep the area evenly damp from the time of planting until after the plants are becoming established in the area.

These are two ways you can add tia-to to your growing location. Pick the method which works best for you and begin the journey of growing this delicious plant right in your own yard.

Caring for Tia-to

As you can tell by this point, tia-to isn’t what you’d consider a fussy plant. Instead, it’s relatively low-maintenance.

Tia-to only needs to be watered and mulched for adequate care. You shouldn’t need to fertilize tia-to as long as you grow in good quality soil from the start.

If you don’t have ideal soil, apply a nitrogen rich fertilizer per the instructions on the package to ensure the leafy plant has what it needs to produce.

When practicing the deep watering method you’ll apply larger quantities of water, for a longer amount of time, fewer days of the week.

This allows the water to fully saturate the roots of the plant and the ground around it. As the days progress and the plant needs more water, it’ll dig its roots into the soil to retrieve it.

In turn, this encourages a deeper root system. In most cases, this leads to healthier plants. You’ll know when it’s time to water tia-to again by testing the soil.

Insert your finger into the dirt next to the plant. When it’s dry to your first knuckle, it’s time to water the plant deeply again.

If it’s still damp, wait a day or two before testing the soil again to see when the plant needs water. This should help you avoid oversaturating or starving the plant of water.

It’s also wise to mulch around your tia-to plants. This helps with controlling weeds and also helps with keeping the soil damp around the plants.

By doing these few things, it should help you keep your plants healthy and thriving while under your care.

Garden Pests and Diseases Which Can Impact Tia-to

Tia-to is considered to be a disease and pest resistant plant. Yet, there are a few things which can hinder this plant on rare occasions.

The diseases which can cause trouble for this plant are downy mildew, rust, bacterial wilt, and damping off.

Should you notice signs of downy mildew or rust, treat the plant with a fungicide and remove any foliage impacted by this disease.

Don’t compost what you remove as this will only further spread the disease once the compost is used. Instead, destroy anything you must remove.

You can avoid fungal issues by planting in the right conditions. Fungal disease thrives in areas that are cold and oversaturated.

By planting in well-draining soil and where there’s plenty of sunlight, you should be able to avoid these conditions.

If your plant becomes too thick to where air can’t flow through it, try removing some of the foliage to encourage better airflow.

It’s also wise to water earlier in the day as this provides time for the foliage of the plant to dry before the cooler night temperatures set in which can also lead to issues with fungal disease.

Should your plants encounter bacterial wilt, there’s no cure. You should remove the infected plants and destroy them.

Be sure to practice crop rotation in future growing seasons to ensure you don’t grow host plants in the same areas over multiple years as this will encourage this disease to hang around in your growing space.

Lastly, damping off is a fungal issue which impacts seedlings. If your plants develop this disease, you should destroy them and start over as there is no cure.

You may avoid this disease by ensuring your seeds are started in a warm growing location, the soil isn’t oversaturated, and you can also sprinkle the soil with cinnamon as this has antifungal properties.

The most common pests to impact tia-to are flea beetles, aphids, spider mites, and white flies. All of these pests can be treated by spraying your plants with soapy water as this dislodges them from the area.

However, you can also use an insecticide to keep these unwanted guests away from your tia-to plants. Be sure you remain diligent when treating your plants for pests and diseases to ensure they don’t have an opportunity to gain a foothold in your garden.

What’s the Difference Between Tia-to, Shiso, and Perilla?

You may hear the terms tia-to, shiso, and perilla used when discussing this plant. They all belong to the mint family, so it can be easy to assume they’re all one in the same.

In truth, tia-to is the same thing as Vietnamese perilla. You’ll recognize this plant as the leaves have a darker purple color to them in comparison to other versions of perilla.

However, shiso and tia-to have a difference in flavor profiles. Shiso is used in Japanese cuisine. The leaves are smaller and have a much fresher mint flavor.

In comparison, tia-to produces larger leaves, has different coloring, and has a more basic flavor profile. 

Before discussing how to harvest this plant, I thought it useful to share the slight differences between these plants because many times they’re so similar the terms are used interchangeably around the Internet.

How to Harvest Tia-to

Harvesting tia-to is easy to do. It’s best to harvest the foliage in the morning while it’s still fresh and crisp before the heat of the day sets in.

Use a sharp pair of clean shears to remove the desired amount from this plant. Always leave half the plant behind to encourage regrowth.

You may utilize the foliage fresh, dry it for later use, or freeze the leaves. Continue to harvest tia-to throughout the growing season.

If you’d like to enjoy this herb year-round, grow tia-to in a container and place it indoors in a sunny location. With proper care and growing conditions, it should continue to produce, so you may harvest from the plant even during the colder months of the year.

These are a few tips on how you can harvest fresh tia-to. It isn’t difficult or time consuming, but can be a great way to enjoy more fresh herbs in your meals.

You now know what it takes to grow, care for, protect, and harvest tia-to as it grows in your garden. It’s our hope that this information gives you a solid foundation to grow from when adding this plant to your home garden.

Sometimes the best way to expand our horizons and knowledge is by growing a new food right in our own backyard. Take the first step to learning something new by growing this treasured herb in your garden.

Key Takeaways

  • Tia-to is a relatively low-maintenance plant that thrives in full to partial sunlight and nutrient-rich, well-draining soil.
  • This plant can be started from seed indoors, or directly sown into the garden, depending on your climate and length of your growing season.
  • Care for tia-to includes regular deep watering, mulching, and occasional application of a nitrogen-rich fertilizer if soil conditions are less than ideal.
  • While generally resistant to pests and diseases, tia-to might occasionally suffer from downy mildew, rust, bacterial wilt, and damping off. Treatments include use of fungicides, ensuring proper growing conditions, and removing infected plants.
  • Tia-to, shiso, and perilla are part of the mint family but have distinct characteristics and flavor profiles.
  • Harvesting tia-to should be done in the morning for optimal freshness. Always leave half the plant behind to encourage regrowth, and the herb can be used fresh, dried, or frozen.

More About Tia-to

tia-to herb growing in garden with text overlay how to grow tia-to

The post How to Grow Vietnamese Perilla ‘Tia To’ (Perilla frutescens) appeared first on Gardening Channel.



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