I always loved those infomercials that advertised something as set it and forget it. In the home vegetable garden, very few things seem to be that easy to manage, but there are actually perennial crops (plants that grow back year after year) that gardeners can grow in their gardens that make a comeback!
Before I dive into the list, let me clarify that some plants are considered perennials in usda hardiness zones while they’re an annual in others. It’s always a good idea to check your zone and the recommendations for what grows well there and whether that plant will in fact come back year after year. In the United States, your local cooperative extension office can help you with questions you have about your specific area.
Perennial Vegetables for the Home Garden
Since this is a lengthy list of perennial vegetables, I’ve broken them down into vegetables, herbs, and other edible plants to help you navigate more smoothly. All of these annual crops are delicious and a valuable addition to your garden space. And many of these plants don’t necessarily need to be grown in a raised bed or row garden.
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I personally like to grow many perennial vegetables and herbs in my flower beds and incorporate them in with the landscaping that’s already there. Who says a plant can’t be both edible and beautiful for some curb appeal? Now, let’s get down to the list.
Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)
This classic perennial vegetable is so fun to grow in any backyard space. Plant crowns or seeds (like these from True Leaf Market) in well-drained soil, and let them go for the first few years. You’ll see they produce lovely asparagus ferns. Once they’re established, they’ll produce delicious, tender spears each spring.
Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)
Thrives in cool climates; plant crowns or seeds in rich, well-drained soil. Rhubarb is a perennial plant with large, triangular-shaped leaves and edible stalks. The stalks are the part of the plant that is commonly used in cooking and baking. Rhubarb is known for its tart flavor, and it is often used in desserts, like strawberry rhubarb pie, and jams. While it is technically a vegetable, in the culinary world, it is often treated as a fruit due to its common use in sweet dishes. It’s important to note that the leaves of the rhubarb plant are toxic and should not be consumed.
Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus)
Grow from seeds or offsets in well-drained, fertile soil. Artichokes are vegetables that are part of the thistle family. The edible part of the artichoke is actually the flower bud before it blooms. The most commonly eaten part is the fleshy lower part of the leaves and the heart, which is the tender core, which you may have had on a salad. Artichokes have a unique flavor and are often prepared by boiling or steaming the whole artichoke, after which the leaves can be individually pulled off and the edible flesh scraped off with the teeth.
Jerusalem Artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus)
Also known as sunchokes, these knobby, irregularly shaped tubers have a sweet, nutty flavor and a crisp, crunchy texture. They can be eaten both raw and cooked. When cooked, they can be roasted, sautéed, boiled, or mashed, similar to potatoes. Plant tubers in early spring, in loose, well-drained soil!
Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
One of my favorites is this lemon-flavored leafy green that is actually one of the perennial herbs. Though because the leaves are so large, they can be used in salads, soups, etc. Sorrell prefers well-drained soil, cooler temps, and can tolerate partial shade; harvest leaves regularly. Some popular varieties are french sorrel and red veined sorrel.
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
Chives are a type of herb belonging to the onion family, which also includes garlic, onions, and leeks. Chives are known for their mild onion flavor and are commonly used as a culinary herb. Easy to grow from seeds or divisions; prefers well-drained soil. Find organic chive seeds at True Leaf Market.
Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)
Horseradish is a pungent root vegetable known for its sharp, peppery flavor. Often used as a condiment, it adds a distinctive kick to sauces, dips, and dishes like roast beef.Plant horseradish root cuttings in well-drained soil rich with organic matter and in an area with plenty of sun.
Lovage (Levisticum officinale)
Lovage is a perennial herb with dark green, celery-like leaves and a flavor reminiscent of both celery and parsley. It is commonly used as a culinary herb to add a savory and aromatic element to soups, stews, and salads. Lovage grows well in moist, fertile soil; divide established plants.
Sea Kale (Crambe maritima)
Sea kale is a perennial plant with large, bluish-green leaves and edible shoots. Cultivated for its tender young shoots, sea kale has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and is often prepared like asparagus.Sow seeds in well-drained soil in full sun; requires good drainage. It grows best in usda zones 4-8 where the weather is cool and moist.
Walking Onion (Allium cepa var. proliferum)
Walking onions, also known as Egyptian walking onions or tree onions, are unique types of onions that produces bulblets on top of tall, green stalks. Egyptian onions bulblets can grow into new plants, allowing the onions to “walk” or spread across a garden, making them both a flavorful addition to dishes and an interesting perennial vegetable. Plant bulbs in well-drained soil; they’ll multiply each year.
Good King Henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus)
Good King Henry, also known as perpetual spinach or Lincolnshire spinach, is a perennial leafy green plant with arrow-shaped leaves and a taste similar to spinach. It’s valued as an edible wild green, and its young leaves can be cooked and used in a variety of dishes.Sow seeds in well-drained soil; tolerates poor conditions.
Perennial Kale (Brassica oleracea)
Perennial kale refers to varieties of kale that are perennial, meaning they can live for more than two years if you live in a zone that doesn’t stay cold for too long (though you can use a cold frame). These kales are cultivated for their ability to regrow each year, providing a continuous harvest of nutritious, leafy greens. Plant seedlings or seeds in rich, well-drained soil. See my full guide on How to Grow Kale in the Home Garden.
Ramps (Allium tricoccum)
Ramps, also known as wild leeks, are wild onions with broad, tender leaves and a pungent flavor. They are typically foraged in spring and prized in culinary dishes for their unique taste, often described as a combination of garlic and onion. Grow from seeds or bulbs in shaded, rich, moist soil, perfect grown in small quantities under trees.
Scarlet Runner Beans (Phaseolus coccineus)
Scarlet runner beans are a variety of pole beans known for their vibrant red flowers and long, flat, green pods. Besides being an attractive ornamental plant, they are cultivated for their edible beans, which are similar in taste and texture to common green beans. Plant bean seeds in full sun in well-drained and rich soil. This perennial vegetable is also a great choice to attract pollinators to your garden.
French Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)
French tarragon is a perennial herb with narrow, aromatic leaves and a distinct anise-like flavor. Widely used in French cuisine, it adds a subtle, licorice-like taste to dishes and is often a key ingredient in fines herbes, a traditional French herb blend. Propagate from cuttings in well-drained soil.
Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas)
Sweet potatoes are typically grown as annuals, but the plants themselves are perennial. In their native tropical and subtropical regions, where frost is not an issue, sweet potato vines can continue to grow year-round. However, in many temperate climates, sweet potatoes are grown as annuals because the vines are sensitive to frost, and the tubers are usually harvested at the end of the growing season. I typically miss a few sweet potatoes in each year’s harvest, so those unharvested potatoes end up producing vines the following year. See my full post for How to Plant and Harvest Sweet Potatoes!
Turkish Rocket (Bunias orientalis)
Turkish rocket, also known as bunias or Turkish warty cabbage (Bunias orientalis), is a perennial vegetable with edible leaves that have a mild, peppery flavor. It’s cultivated for its culinary uses and is valued as a hardy, perennial green in certain regions. Grow from seeds in well-drained soil in full sun.
Perpetual Spinach (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris)
Technically in the swiss chard family, this edible plant can tolerate cold temps and still keeps going, but it’s intolerant of frost, so be advised. Easy to grow using direct sow methods and produces well until weather turns quite cold. See my full post on how to plant, grow, and harvest spinach!
Not all broccoli varieties are perennial, but there are some that can keep producing such as the Nine Star Perennial Broccoli variety. Direct sow into the garden or begin indoors. Grow in full sun in soil rich in organic matter. See a full guide on How to Grow Broccoli at Home.
Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius)
Salsify, also known as oyster plant or vegetable oyster, is a root vegetable with a long, slender taproot and a taste reminiscent of oysters when cooked. It is appreciated for its delicate, sweet flavor and is often used in various culinary applications, such as soups, stews, and side dishes. Sow seeds directly in well-drained soil 1-2 weeks before the last frost date.
Chinese Artichoke (Stachys affinis)
Chinese artichokes, also known as Crosne or Chinese artichoke, are a root vegetable belonging to the mint family. These small, knobby tubers have a crisp texture and a sweet, nutty flavor, often used in salads or stir-fries. Plant tubers in well-drained, sandy soil.
Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)
Watercress is a leafy green aquatic plant with small, peppery leaves and a tangy flavor. Often used in salads and as a garnish, watercress is rich in vitamins and minerals. Grow watercress in a well-lit location with consistently moist soil, either in a container placed in a shallow water tray or directly in a water garden, ensuring the plant receives adequate sunlight and cool temperatures. Find watercress seeds at True Leaf Market.
Tree Collards/Tree Kale
Tree collards, also known as tree kale or walking stick kale, are a perennial leafy green plant that grows in a tree-like form, reaching considerable heights. These tall, sturdy plants produce edible leaves and are valued for their resilience and ability to provide a continuous harvest over multiple years.
Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius)
Yacon is a tuberous root vegetable native to the Andes in South America, known for its sweet taste and crunchy texture. Often consumed raw, it has a flavor similar to a cross between an apple and a watermelon and is cultivated for its potential health benefits. Plant tubers in loose, well-drained soil in spring.
Adjust planting times and conditions based on your specific climate and region. Always follow recommended practices for each vegetable.
In conclusion, walking onions are a remarkably versatile and resilient perennial vegetable that deserves a spot in your kitchen garden. Their ability to reproduce themselves and their distinct flavor make them a truly intriguing addition to any culinary repertoire. So why not add these fascinating onion relatives to your garden and enjoy the beauty and flavor they bring year after year?,
Incorporating these 25 perennial vegetable plants into your kitchen garden opens the door to a never-ending supply of fresh and flavorsome produce, transforming your gardening experience into a paradise of perpetual abundance.
It’s time to take action and create a remarkable kitchen garden that not only nourishes your body but also is less work on you in the long run. Have a wonderful week and happy gardening!