19 Perennial Vegetables to Grow Once and Harvest Forever

Forever might be a stretch, but a very, very long time! When it comes to creating a sustainable and low-maintenance home garden, perennial vegetables are a game-changer. Unlike annual crops that need replanting every year, perennial veggies provide harvests year after year with minimal effort. Something to note here is that while it takes minimal effort to upkeep, the beginning might be challenging, so it's important to research the vegetables you choose before getting started.

Here’s a guide to 19 popular and not so popular perennial vegetables you can grow once and harvest for years to come, ensuring your garden is both productive and efficient.

Let’s talk perennials

1. Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem artichokes, also known as sunchokes, are perennials that thrive in full sun and well-drained soil to produce nutty-flavored tubers that are delicious roasted or raw. Plant them in early spring and enjoy harvests from late summer through late fall. 


Asparagus is a classic perennial crop that has been a staple in American gardens for generations. This hardy vegetable plant needs to be planted in early spring, within a year, you'll see them emerge from the earth as a beacon of springtime. Growing asparagus must be done strategically since the first significant harvest comes in the third year, but the wait is worth it for a perennial crop that lasts for decades.

3. Good King Henry

Good King Henry, also known as "poor-man's asparagus," is a leafy green that has been cultivated since the time of early European settlers. This perennial plant thrives in partial shade and grows edible stalks, leaves, and flowers, no wonder it’s nickname.  This perennial is a valuable addition to any vegetable garden because it grows like a weed giving bountiful harvests starting from the second year onward.

4. Sea Kale

Sea kale is a versatile perennial that thrives in both full sun and partial shade. Unlike traditional kale, it boasts a mild cabbage-like flavor, making it a delightful addition to dishes. Its tender shoots, leaves, and flower buds are all edible, perfect for enhancing stews and salads. Plant sea kale in late winter or early spring, and anticipate a harvest by the following year.

5. Kale

Perennial Kale, also known as Taunton Deane kale, is a leafy green that has a long-term harvest. This crop can last for several years, producing tender leaves that are great for salads and cooking. Kale is well-suited for cooler climates but can adapt to a variety of conditions. The leaves can be harvested continuously throughout the growing season, and the plant can even survive mild winters.

6. Globe Artichoke

Globe artichokes, the quintessential artichokes, flourish in Mediterranean climates but can also thrive in select hardy zones across the USA. While they need extra care in colder regions, their unique flavor and nutritional benefits make them well worth the effort!

7. Scarlet Runner Beans

Scarlet runner beans are not only edible perennials but also add a splash of vibrant red color to your garden with their vibrant flowers. They prefer full sun, cooler climates and a lot of vertical room to climb comfortably and uninterrupted! The beans are best harvested young, and the plants will return each year with little effort.

8. Egyptian Walking Onions

They are named like that because they look like they are about to take off the ground to greener pastures! These unique perennial veggies are a long-term investment for any garden. Egyptian walking onions grow in full sun and rich soil, producing new plants each year. They are particularly resilient in cold winters and can be harvested in late fall.

9. Wild Leeks

Wild leeks, also known as ramps, are a perennial favorite in North America. Resembling single collard greens, spring onions, or miniature leeks, they boast a distinct leafy garlic flavor. Thriving in moist soil and partial shade, they should be planted in late winter to harvest by early spring.

10. Malabar Spinach

Malabar spinach is a perennial vegetable that thrives in warm climates. Although not a true spinach, its leaves can be used similarly. It can be tossed in salads or wraps and cooked in stews, but beware of its slightly slimy consistency, similar to okra. Malabar spinach is a climber, so make sure you give it space to spread out!

11. Perpetual Spinach

Perpetual spinach is not a true spinach but a type of chard that behaves like a perennial in mild climates. This leafy green provides a continuous harvest throughout the year, especially in regions without harsh winters. Perpetual spinach grows best in partial shade and is ideal for gardeners looking for a reliable and low-maintenance source of greens.

12. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are hardy perennials that thrive in warm climates, full sun, and well-drained soil to produce their edible tubers. You already know the many wonders of sweet potato, but they truly are the perfect chameleon for your kitchen. They can be used in desserts, breads, salads, stews, chili, fries, and are great for those trying to keep their glucose levels under control.

13. Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable that is known for its tart, colorful stalks. It thrives in cooler climates and is best planted from seed-grown plants or one-year-old roots. Rhubarb prefers full sun and lots of space to grow. Harvesting usually begins in the second year after planting, and this plant can produce for many years with minimal care. Be sure to only harvest the stalks, as the leaves contain oxalic acid, which is toxic!

14. Cardoon

Cardoon is a close relative of the artichoke plant, which is why it’s also known as wild artichoke. This perennial vegetable has large and tall spiky leaves that protect the flower, which blooms into a purple artichoke flower. Cardoon is best grown in warm climates from seed in the spring, and the stalks are harvested in the following spring. 

15. Tree Collards

Tree collards are perennial leafy greens that are a fantastic addition to your garden. Unlike traditional collards, these plants can grow up to 6-10 feet tall and continue producing for several years. They thrive in mild winters and warmer climates, though they can also tolerate cooler temperatures with proper care. The best way to grow tree collards is from cuttings, planted in the spring. These hardy vegetable plants provide nutritious leaves year-round, and they get sweeter after the winter months!

16. Yacon

Yacon, a tuberous perennial from South America, grows for its sweet, crunchy roots that taste like apples. This plant needs a long growing season and does best in warmer climates with lots of sunlight. By the next year, you can harvest the tubers. Yacon also produces small yellow flowers, which, though not edible, make for a pretty flower arrangement indoors!

17. Turkish Rocket

Turkish Rocket is a lesser-known perennial vegetable that produces edible leaves and flower buds. The leaves can be harvested in the spring and used in salads or cooked like other leafy greens, while the flower buds can be treated like broccoli, win-win! Turkish Rocket is resilient and requires little maintenance, making it an excellent addition to a perennial vegetable garden.

18. Watercress

Watercress is a perennial leafy green that thrives in water or very moist soil. It's perfect for planting near streams, ponds, or in a specially prepared wet area in your garden. Watercress prefers a sunny spot, grows quickly, and can be harvested continuously throughout the growing season. This peppery-flavored green with a crunchy bite is packed with nutrients and adds a fresh, zesty flavor to salads and sandwiches.

19. Salsify

Salsify, also known as Oyster Plant, is a perennial root vegetable with an oyster-like flavor. Plant salsify seeds in early spring, and the roots can be harvested in late fall or early winter. The leaves, flowers, and peeled roots are all edible. Keep in mind the flavor after the first frost. Salsify is easy to grow and maintain, and although it's not popular, it can help spice things up in the kitchen!

Benefits of Growing Perennials

Less Work: Perennials require less planting and tilling compared to annual vegetables.

Erosion Control: Their root systems help maintain soil structure and prevent erosion.

Soil Health: Perennials improve soil organic matter and structure over time.

Sustainability: These plants are a long-term investment, offering yields for many years.

Diversity: They add unique flavors and nutrients to your diet, enhancing culinary variety.

Reliability: You can count on having something new to add to your table with each meal.

Quick Maintenance Tips

Organic Soil: Use nutritious soil rich in organic matter and well-drained, to give your crops the best head start.

Planting Time: As a rule of thumb the best time to plant most perennial vegetables is in early spring or late winter.

Sunlight: Most perennials prefer full sun, but some can tolerate partial shade.

Watering: Keep consistent moisture levels, particularly during the first year to establish strong roots, and avoid waterlogging to prevent root rot. To keep things low maintenance for you, check out Vego Garden's specialized planters equipped with a drainage system for hassle-free maintenance and easy living! 

Mulching: Use the right amount of mulch to retain soil moisture and suppress weeds.

Harvesting: Be patient; many perennials yield their best harvests from the second year onwards.

Final Thoughts

You've been given a list of plants you can count on to grow year after year. While not all of them are easy to cultivate—some demand more care than others—the fact remains that once they get going, they'll be with you for many seasons!

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