Perennial vegetables are plants that live for more than two years and produce year after year without the need for replanting. By planting perennial vegetables, you can be planting once and harvesting forever. Well, sort of. Perennial vegetables can live for 3 years or they could live for 20 or more years. But unlike annual vegetables that require replanting every year, perennial vegetables require less maintenance and are more sustainable.
So in this article, I’ve put together a list of perennial vegetables you can plant once and eat for years to come!
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To grow globe artichokes as a perennial, they need a temperate climate with mild winters – no lower than 50 °F (10 °C) is a good indicator. And if the conditions are right, artichokes can be productive for 6-7 years.
What I really love about artichoke plants is they are self-propagating, so the older plants will produce new plants you can separate and replant into the garden. And if you miss harvesting your artichokes for eating, don’t worry, they produce the most stunning flowers!
Depending on the variety of artichokes, you can expect around 6 artichokes per plant with some even yielding up to 10 per growing season. Artichokes need a bit of room in the garden, growing 3-5 feet (1-1.5 meters) high and wide so they will need at least that amount of growing space per plant.
To me, asparagus is one of those luxury vegetables. They’re a little bit pricey so growing your own is really economical. Growing asparagus takes some patience though, because they can take a few years to establish. But the really great part of growing asparagus is that once established in the garden it can be a really low-maintenance vegetable that comes back year after year.
Asparagus is a hardy plant that’s harvested over the course of a few weeks in the spring and summer months, so there will be plenty of char-grilled asparagus coming off the grill or silky smooth cream of asparagus soup.
Planting asparagus can be done in the early spring and is generally grown from crowns. It’s best to choose a sunny spot in the garden for planting, where the asparagus will receive 6-8 hours of sun a day. The soil should be loose and well-drained with plenty of water provided and the occasional dose of fertilizer.
Ok, so Chayote is technically a fruit but being a type of squash most of us eat them like a vegetable so I’ve included them in this perennial vegetable list.
Chayote is a perennial plant that can be grown in tropical and subtropical climates preferring temperatures around 75-85 °F (25-30 °C). A chayote plant can grow up to 39 feet (12 meters) long and produces tendrils that help it climb.
In the right conditions, chayote is very easy to grow and a prolific producer. In one season a chayote can produce up to 100 fruit!
The easiest way to grow chayote is to simply plant the chayote fruit horizontally about 2 inches deep in well-drained soil. The fruit should be planted with the sprout end facing up. Chayote can also be grown from seed but planting the fruit is a simpler method. Keep the soil moist and provide support for the chayote plant to climb or spread.
Chayote has a mild flavor and a texture that’s often compared to a cross between a potato and a cucumber. Chayote can be eaten raw or cooked and is commonly used in soups, stews, salads, and stir-fries.
Here are a few of our recipes you might like to try:
Egyptian Walking Onion
Egyptian Walking Onion, also known as Tree Onion or Top-Setting Onion, is a type of onion that grows perennially and is known for its distinctive bulblets (or bulbils) that grow on the top of the stalks. These can be replanted to grow new plants.
And actually, if you have space in your garden, you can leave the Egyptian walking onion plant to do its own thing. Watch as the onion top grows large and heavy before falling over. At this point, the new bulblets are touching the soil and will grow by themselves.
To grow Egyptian walking onion, you’ll need to plant the bulblets in the fall or early spring in well-draining soil that receives plenty of sunlight. The plants will grow in clusters and can reach up to 2 feet (60cm) tall. As they’re relatively low maintenance they only need minimal watering and fertilization.
Egyptian walking onion has a milder, sweeter flavor than traditional onions and is often described as having a mix of flavors between scallions and shallots. The bulblets can be eaten raw or cooked and are often used in salads, stir-fries, and other dishes that call for onions. The green tops of the plant can also be used like scallions or chives and are great for adding a mild onion flavor to soups, stews, and other dishes.
Fennel is known for its bulb, feathery leaves, and seeds, which are all used in cooking. As a short-lived perennial plant, fennel will grow for around 3-4 years. During this time, you can harvest the leaves, flowers and seeds for eating though if you harvest the bulb, fennel will need to be grown as an annual.
Fennel can be grown from seed or seedling in well-prepared soil enriched with compost. It grows best in full sun and well-draining soil and it is best to plant fennel in the cooler months of the year. The best temperature for growing fennel is between 50-77 °F (10-25 °C).
As the fennel grows, you can harvest the fronds (feathery leaves) for use in salads, soups, and other dishes. The bulb can also be harvested when it’s mature, typically after 80-100 days but just remember that if you harvest the bulb you will need to grow them annually.
I love the distinct anise or licorice flavor and aroma of fennel which is often used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. The fronds can be used as a garnish or added to salads and other dishes. Fennel seeds are often used in baking and can be added to bread, cakes, and cookies for a subtle anise flavor.
You can read more about eating fennel in our article: Cooking and Eating Fennel (Including Leaves and Seeds).
Ginger is widely used in cooking so it hardly needs an introduction. Though I will say it’s so handy to be able to go out into my garden and harvest some fresh ginger to add to my stir-fries! Ginger’s spicy, pungent flavor brings Asian dishes to life.
My two best tips for growing ginger are to consider your climate and the length of time required to grow ginger. As a tropical and subtropical plant, ginger grows best in warm humid conditions with an ideal temperature of 77°F (25°C). And ginger does take a long time to develop—allow around 8-9 months for the ginger to be ready for harvesting.
With those tips in mind, to grow ginger, you’ll need some ginger root (also called a rhizome). You can either start by purchasing ginger from a garden center, online or select a piece of organic ginger from a grocery store (choose organic to minimize the risk of growth retardant being used).
Plant the ginger root in the garden or a container filled with rich, well-draining soil, with the buds facing up and the root just covered with soil. Water sparingly until you see new green shoots, then water regularly. Just be sure the soil is well-draining and not waterlogged or ginger may rot. Keep the container in a warm, humid location that receives partial to full sunlight.
To harvest, carefully dig up the root and either use it in its entirety or you can cut off a portion of the rhizome and replant the remaining ginger to continue growing.
Ginger can be used fresh or dried and is often grated or minced and added to stir-fries, curries, marinades, and sauces. Ginger is also popular for tea and in baking sweet treats such as ginger snaps and gingerbread. Even the ginger leaves are edible! For a large harvest of ginger, try freezing it or dehydrating ginger.
Jerusalem artichokes, also known as sunchokes, are a root vegetable grown for their tubers underground. As a perennial vegetable, they’re easy to grow and harvest.
When planting Jerusalem artichokes in your garden, space them about 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) apart, and the soil should be prepared with plenty of organic matter such as compost and aged manure.
Jerusalem artichokes can be harvested when the plants die back in the fall. Simply dig up the tubers and store them in a cool, dry place. Or cut them back to about three inches above the soil before winter and allow them to regrow the following season.
With their slightly sweet, nutty flavor, Jerusalem artichokes can be used in many dishes, from soups and stews to roasted vegetables and even made into yummy chips. They can also be mashed or pureed as a side dish and a good alternative to mashed potatoes.
While most kale plants are biennials, meaning they’ll grow for two years, perennial kale varieties are hardy kale plants that can grow for multiple years without replanting.
As the name suggests, perennial kale is indeed a perennial plant, which means it can survive for more than two years, unlike regular kale. It can withstand cold temperatures and even snow, making it an excellent vegetable to grow in colder climates.
Notable varieties of perennial kale are Daubenton (B. oleracea var. ramosa), Walking Stick (B. oleracea var. longata) and Sea Kale (Crambe maritime) – more on this variety below.
To grow perennial kale, choose a location that has well-draining soil and receives full sun. Sow the seeds in the spring or fall, and ensure they are planted at a depth of about 1/2 inch. Water the seeds frequently until they are established, then maintain regular watering throughout the growing season.
Perennial kale has a milder taste than its annual counterpart, and its leaves are more tender and less bitter. It tastes similar to other varieties of kale and can be used in the same way as regular kale. Overall, growing perennial kale is a winner in my book, because you get all the benefits of kale but you only plant it once every 5-6 years.
Sea Kale (Crambe maritime) is related to cabbage and kale and it’s native to the coasts of Europe and Asia, often found growing wild in the sand dunes of the British Isles.
But you don’t need to live near the sea to grow sea kale, you can grow it in your own garden at home in the right climate. Sea kale grows best in cool temperatures ranging from 40-75°F (4-24°C).
Sea kale grows best in a sunny spot with well-drained soil and can be sown in the fall or early spring. Prepare the soil with compost and a light dressing of fertilizer before sowing the seeds to give them the right start. The plants will take two to three years to mature, at which point you can divide them for additional sea kale plants and to keep them productive.
Sea kale has a delicate flavor similar to a mix of asparagus and cabbage with a crunchy texture. And what makes this plant particularly great is that all parts are edible including the roots, leaves, flowers, florets, and even the seed pods. Sea kale can be eaten raw, but it is also delicious cooked. Try sea kale boiled, steamed, stir-fried, or added to soups and stews. Sea kale is also a good choice for pickles and salads, and can be added to casseroles and frittatas.
Perennial Leeks, also called Perpetual Leek are similar to regular leeks, only thinner and clumping.
Perennial leeks can be grown from seed, but are more commonly propagated by division. These leeks form small offsets that can be taken from the main plant. Often you would harvest the mature Leek and then transplant out all the offsets. Replant the offsets in well-drained soil and water well.
As a cooler season crop, perennial leeks tend to go dormant in summer but in milder climates, they can grow all year.
They can be used in the same dishes as regular leeks, such as soup, stews, casseroles stir fries or quiches and other egg dishes.
Rhubarb is one of those vegetables often associated with sweet dishes such as rhubarb crumble or pie so it’s surprising to know it’s actually a vegetable. I have lots of rhubarb growing in my garden and in my climate, it grows almost year-round.
Generally grown from crowns or seedlings (you can grow from seed also), rhubarb prefers well-drained soil amended with compost and full sun to partial shade. Plant rhubarb 3-4 feet (90-120 cm) apart in the spring or fall.
Rhubarb can be harvested when the stalks are about 1 inch thick. Simply pull the stalks carefully away from the crown and cut off the leaves.
Once your rhubarb is established in the garden, it will start spreading, at which point it be divided to create more plants. And if your rhubarb starts producing an excess, you can harvest the stems, wash them and cut them into 1-2 inches pieces and place them in a freezer bag to freeze until you’re ready to cook them. I use this tip all the time!
Sorrel is a perennial herb in the buckwheat family and is related to rhubarb. They come in three varieties: the regular large green-leafed Sorrel, French Sorrel, and Red Sorrel with tell-tale red veins running through green leaves.
Growing sorrel can be done from seed or from divisions of the root. It prefers full sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soil. Sow the seeds in the spring, and thin the plants to 10-12 inches (25-30 cm) apart. Sorrel also does well grown in containers or bordering garden beds.
Sorrel has a sour, acidic lemony taste that is a great addition to salads, soups, risotto and sauces.
In some climates, sweet potatoes will grow year-round. In others, sweet potato will die down in winter but if roots are still in the ground, they’ll come up again in spring.
I particularly love that not only does sweet potato produce delicious tubers for eating, but you can also eat the sweet potato leaves!
Sweet potatoes are generally easy to grow and can be grown in a wide range of climates but grow best in 65-95°F (18-35 °C) range. They are typically planted in the spring and harvested in the fall, although the exact timing will depend on your location and the specific variety of sweet potato you are growing.
Grow sweet potatoes in full sun and well-draining soil for a great harvest. You can plant sweet potato slips (which are the small sweet potato plants) you purchase or you can grow your own slips from sweet potatoes. Once you have planted your sweet potatoes, you will need to water them regularly and fertilize them every now and again for healthy growth.
Sweet potatoes are versatile and are eaten in many different dishes, both sweet and savory and even raw. They can be baked, boiled, or roasted and used in everything from soups and stews to pies and casseroles. A favorite in my house is sweet potato fries!
These are just a few examples of perennial vegetables that can be grown in your vegetable garden – there are actually many more! And if you include fruits, legumes, herbs and flowers, you will have an amazing edible garden without all the work of an annual planted garden. When selecting perennial vegetables to grow at home, be sure to choose varieties well-suited to your climate and growing conditions so you can reap the very best rewards from your edible garden.