How to Choose and Grow Perennial Vegetables in Your Garden
Besides several perennial vegetables known worldwide, such as artichoke, rhubarb, and asparagus, this group of edible plants is fairly unknown to gardeners. Fortunately, perennial veggies are becoming more popular and widely available. Anyone who’d like to have an abundant, unusual garden full of different flavors should definitely try growing perennial vegetables.
The plants that are cultivated for their edible parts, and have a lifespan of more than three years, are considered perennial vegetables. Those edible parts can be leaves, tubers, bulbs, beans, shoots, flowers, leaf stems, etc. Some gardeners include herbs in this group, especially if an herb can be used in bulk amounts to make a dish.
Some of these plants have a short lifespan, some of them will live for decades. However, they all can be harvested year after year, without killing the plant. Many of them will reward you with crop during the trickiest period of the year when the annuals are just being sowed and there’s nothing to harvest.
In comparison with annuals, perennial vegetables are planted once and require less care and work. They are often highly nutritious and have a stronger flavor than their annual counterpart.
The plants that fall within this group belong to various families and are native to different regions. Since they’re so diverse, there’s no general tip for growing perennial vegetables. But, one thing is sure – they are fairly low-maintenance plants.
One of the best things about perennial vegetables is that you can find a dozen of plants for your garden, no matter the climate. Arid, temperate, subpolar climates, subtropical, desert…there are perfect perennial edibles for any climate. Many perennial vegetables can survive a harsh winter even in temperate and cool regions.
But before you start planning your edible perennial garden, consider the conditions of your garden. The soil type, its drainage and acidity, sun exposure, available space, and of course – your overall climate, will determine what plants you will grow.
Don’t forget to check whether a plant you’re interested in is listed as an invasive species in your region. In that case, a species may be prohibited by law. And what’s more, an invasive plant can cause various problems to your garden ecosystem and give you a headache in an attempt to get rid of it.
As extra, perennial vegetables are particularly convenient for landscaping. Their various sizes, colors, growth forms, and other decorative and ornamental features can give a lot of interest to your garden. There are even some aquatic species that can be grown in a pond garden.
25 Easy Perennial Veggies to Grow
Although there are hundreds and hundreds of edible perennials used as vegetables, we bring you a list of 25 easiest perennial vegetables that you’d actually like to eat.
- Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) – One of the most famous perennial veggies, it can survive mild winters or harsh conditions if protected.
- Broccoli ‘Nine Star’ (Brassica Oleracea Botrytis Asparagoides) – It produces creamy white cauliflower type heads year after year.
- Garden asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) – Plant it once and you’ll have a harvest for 10 to 20 years!
- Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) – This perennial prefers cool weather conditions. Rhubarb stalks are safe and edible, while the leaves are poisonous.
- Common nettle (Urtica dioica) – The stinging chemicals are removed by cooking. Common nettle tastes somewhat like spinach, it’s healthy and nutritious, and it’s commonly used in soups, pies, puree, etc.
- Good King Henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus) – An excellent, hardy leafy green vegetable that you can start harvesting in the early spring.
- Welsh onion (Allium fistulosum) – This type of onion forms large, abundant clumps that can serve you as spring onions.
- Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) – Not only it’s a flavorful edible that you can enjoy year after year, but its purple flowers are wonderful ornamental addition to any garden.
- Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) – This perennial is a wonderful mix of chives appearance and garlic flavor.
- Ramp (Allium tricocum) – Also known as wild leek, ramson, or wood leek, this type of garlic will provide you with crops year-round.
- Wild garlic (Allium ursium) – This perennial garlic grows in moist areas, and its flavorful leaves are used in various dishes, such as soups, fries, salads, etc.
- French sorrel (Rumex scutatus) – Along with Good King Henry, this leafy green is one of the earliest from the garden in the spring.
- Lovage (Levisticum officinale) – Although considered an herb, it’s a valuable perennial for anyone who’d like to have a celery-flavor plant early in the spring, year after year.
- Perennial kale (Brassica oleracea ramosa grex) – Low-maintenance perennial plant that can be harvested almost year-round.
- Sea beet (Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima) – Spinach’s coastal cousin is surely worth having in your garden.
- Sea kale (Crambe maritima) – With slightly bitter taste than regular kale, the young shoots can be eaten raw. Otherwise, cook it or boil it just as regular kale.
- Arrowhead (Sagittaria spp.) – A perfect aquatic plant for your pond garden, but also a good edible. Its tubers have a starchy, potato-like taste.
- Red-veined sorrel (Rumex sanguineus) – This hardy leafy green is probably one of the most productive crops that can be harvested even in mid-winter.
- Sunchokes (Helianthus tuberosus) – Also known as Jerusalem artichoke or sunroot, this perennial is grown for its tubers that have wide culinary uses. However, be careful, because Sunchoke is listed invasive in many areas.
- Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) – Ostrich fern fiddleheads are edible only in the early phase of their growth, but the fern provides such a wonderful display when mature, so it is grown both as a food plant and an ornamental plant.
- Scarlet beans (Phaseolus coccineus) – Although usually treated as an annual, scarlet bean (also known as runner bean) can be grown as a perennial in a climate with mild winter.
- Chicory (Chicorium intybus) – Plant once and harvest the delicious leaves every year throughout the entire season.
- Groundnut (Apios americana) – Not to be confused with peanut (Arachis hypogaea). Also known as potato bean, this quite hardy perennial is grown for its highly-nutritive tubers.
- Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana, syn. Cochlearia armoracia) – Leaves are eaten when young, while the grated root is used for making an excellent spicy sauce.
- Hostas (Hosta spp.) – It’s certainly a surprising fact, but highly-decorative hosta leaf clusters are actually edible.