Perilla 'Magilla'

Common Name: perilla 
Type: Annual
Family: Lamiaceae
Zone: 2 to 11
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers not showy
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Vegetable
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Deer


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-11. In St. Louis, grow as garden annuals or in pots that can be overwintered indoors. Grow in moist, humusy, organically rich, loose soils in full sun. Also grows well in light shade. Soils must not be allowed to dry out. Remove flower spikes as they appear. Pinch plant stem tips as needed to keep plants compact and to promote bushiness. Seed can be started indoors 8-12 weeks before last frost date. Seed may also be planted directly in the garden after last frost date. Inexpensive starter plants (in small pots or flats) can be purchased from most nurseries in spring for beds and containers. Containers may be brought inside in fall before frost for overwintering. Similarly, favorite plants may be dug and potted in fall for overwintering as houseplants. Cuttings from favorite plants (easily rooted in a glass of water or in clean potting soil) can also be taken in fall for overwintering. Plants may freely self-seed in some areas if flowering/seed stems are not promptly removed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Perilla is a tropical tender perennial that has become a very popular foliage annual. It is similar in appearance and related to coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides). Plants generally grow in a mound to 2-3’ tall x 2-3’ wide, but can be pinched smaller. Showy multi-colored leaves (to 5” long) are generally ovate to oblong and toothed. White nettle-like flowers bloom in slender racemes in summer, but are not showy and tend to visually detract from the symmetry and attractiveness of the planting.

Genus name comes from the Latin word pera meaning bag or wallet in reference to the fruiting calyx.

‘Magilla’ is a cultivar that is noted for its brightly colored, variegated foliage that is irregularly splashed with magenta-red, deep plum, green and cream.


No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for aphids, spider mites and whiteflies, particularly on indoor plants.


Group or mass as garden annuals in beds and borders. Pots, containers, window boxes, hanging baskets.