Perilla, Flowering Tobacco and Petunias

Some plantings are for the birds! This entire bed was planted by wind and birds. All I did this summer was weed out everything that wasn't Perilla, Flowering Tobacco and Petunias. has the scoop on Nicotiana at
The bed is under a dead black walnut tree and the entire area was covered with newsprint and a few inches of hardwood mulch. Last spring when it became obvious that the tree had died, we moved all the hardwood mulch to the perennial bed behind. The newsprint had all been eaten by earthworms of course. That's what they do so well.

I've never seen Trailing Petunias re-seed like this. Have you had this experience?
Perilla is known for generously re-seeding itself. The original seeds were sent to me 5 years ago by my cousin in Germany where they are called Rotes Basilikum (red basil). Since then, they have returned each year but only a few plants.
Did you know that before Coleus became so popular, Perilla was the red/purple foliage plant of choice. explains it's culinary uses, "Perilla foliage "kkaennip namul" and seed oil are used in Korean cooking. Korean markets in the United States sometimes sell perilla. An Oriental grocery in Ames, Iowa, sold bundles of fresh leaves for $6.53/kg in August, 1991. Perilla was an important vegetable in ancient China, but use in modern times has declined there. In Japan, the foliage of "shiso" serves as a garnish. The foliage also provides a red (anthocyanin) food coloring; specialized red-leaved perilla varieties are used in the preparation of pickled plums. In addition to food coloring, perilla adds an antimicrobial substance to pickled foods. Perilla seeds are eaten in Japan and in parts of India. More at

This year though, all those seeds of Petunia (red in front) Flowering Tobacco and Perilla that had been resting in the hardwood mulch came into their own and made an whole new gorgeous bed that the pollinators just cannot stay away from!


Jean Campbell said…
My kind of gardening! I have reseeded Laura Bush Petunias that wind planted. I noticed Nicotiana coming up under where I cut back Lantana. No Perilla here, but Purple Alternanthera works for me. A little Rose Campion doesn't hurt, either.
Molly Day said…
I know what you mean, NellJean.
We love what the birds and the wind plant even though they are rarely where we would have thought to put them.
Every day there are more an more petunias in that mix - it's getting prettier!

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