I once asked an ajumma friend why she thought Korean-Americans loved kkaennip so much. She slapped me on the arm and responded vehemently, "What are you talking about?! We were born to love kkaennip! We have always grown together. Stop asking strange questions!" Her sentiment is resonant with many, that these plants are distinctly a part of our lineage. Cultivated on the peninsula since the Bronze Age, our variety has the large, heart shaped leaves with green tops and lilac undersides familiar to and beloved by the Korean community. They have been steadfast companions throughout the diaspora, capable of growing in a wide range of conditions. Leaves are an essential component of meals throughout the summer, and their flavor has no real substitute. Their bushy stature contributes incredible beauty as well as shade and habitat for many creatures for the duration of summer. In fall their proific flowers provide lots of food for pollinators, and their oil rich seeds keep your bird populations well fed for the winter.
Kkaennip is a day length sensitive plant, meaning it grows vegetatively with the lengthening days starting around the spring equinox (March-May). It flowers in response to short days, between the summer solstice and fall equinox.
When to plant
Direct seed after threat of frost has passed, or start seeds indoors 3-4 weeks prior to field planting date. Optimal germination temperature is 65-70F.
Surface sown and gently tamped in. They need light to germinate, so be careful to not cover too much. If starting indoors, either broadcast into open trays then pot up into 2" pots, or use 50-cell seedling trays.
2’ between plants is ideal for healthy vigorous growth, and seed maturation.
Full to partial. When grown in the shade, leaves will be more tender, but may not have as intense coloring on the undersides.
Intermittent moderate watering recommended. Avoid prolonged periods of drought.
Days to maturity
70 days from emergence to harvest leaves. Flowering depends on daylength shortening, and so will vary based on your location. Seeds mature about 5 weeks after flowering begins.