Help keep One Green Planet free and independent! Together we can ensure our platform remains a hub for empowering ideas committed to fighting for a sustainable, healthy, and compassionate world. Please support us in keeping our mission strong.

Permaculture gardens blend all sorts of plants, including vegetables, fruit and nut trees, flowers, and shrubbery. One of the most important parts of developing a permaculture garden is having a healthy balance of perennial versus annual plants.

Quick reminder: Annual plants are those that grow and die in a single season, meaning they must be planted every year. Perennial plants come back for years after being planted. Perennial plants, then, require a lot less energy to grow and less work to maintain while providing output for far longer.

Due to this perennial efficiency, food production in permaculture gardens pays special attention to these types of plants. While much of our supermarket produce—corn, lettuce, squashes, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.—isn’t perennial, permaculturists try to reimagine the food system to rely on perennial plants.

In other words, we’ve got an eye for perennial vegetables to add to the garden!

1. Asparagus

A favorite vegetable for many and certainly one that is associated with fine cuisine, asparagus is a perennial plant that has a lifespan of 20-plus years. It takes a couple of years to become harvestable, but once a good asparagus patch is in place, it’s a great treat and an abundant source of food for a couple of months every spring.

Source: Charles Dowding/YouTube

2. Broccoli/Cauliflower

Not all, or even most, broccoli is perennial, but some varieties can provide harvests for a few years. Nine Star Broccoli is the go-to variety here. The head is harvested leaving sprouts behind to create several smaller heads. Purple Cape is another variety that produces purple, rather than green, florets.

3. Garlic

Garlic is one of those plants that can be difficult to eradicate once it is established somewhere. One new garlic plant grows for each clove of garlic. So, one head of garlic can produce a lot of plants. While most growers treat it like an annual plant, it grows very well as a perennial, and a garlic patch can provide healthy, medicinal food for decades.

4. Globe Artichokes

Artichokes won’t work as a perennial in half of the US, but that means it will in the other, warmer half. USDA Zone 8 or very protected in Zone 7 is about as cold as the globe artichoke can survive. That said, it’s a member of the thistle family, known as weeds, so it is capable of growing like one. Just take advantage and eat them.

Source: Project Tree Collard/YouTube

5. Tree Collards

A type of perennial collard greens, tree collards are usually kept at about four feet tall, and they produce giant leaves that can be harvested regularly. Tree collards are said to be sweeter and more tender than normal collard greens. They can also be propagated by cuttings, so even as the original tree collards get woody and less productive, more can be planted for free.

6. Rhubarb

A flavor unlike anything else, rhubarb plays nicely in both sweet and savory dishes. It’s incredibly tart and can steal the show in terms of flavor. It’s very popular paired with strawberries, which are harvested at a similar time. Rhubarb is a beautiful, big-leaf plant that works wonderfully in ornamental settings as well.

7. Sunchokes

Also known as Jerusalem artichokes, sunchokes are related to artichokes at all. They are a type of sunflower, and it’s the root-like tubers (not flowers, like artichokes) that people eat. Jerusalem artichokes are easy to grow but extremely difficult to get rid of once put somewhere, so they should get a designated bed to grow in. They can be eaten both raw and cooked.

8. Walking Onions

Egyptian walking onions are used for the green shoots it produces and the small onion bulbs. They are perennial plants that are good at spreading, or “walking”, across the garden. They do this by producing a clump of small onion bulbs at the top of a plant stalk, and the bulbs eventually weigh enough to bend the stalk over and plant themselves.

Source: iCultivate/YouTube

9. Watercress

As its name suggests, a watercress is an aquatic plant that best works in a cool stream or even a garden fountain. It, of course, has to have plenty of water, and its preference is that the water is moving. It’s also a good plant to grow in hydroponic systems. Watercress is a spicy, highly nutritious green that works wonderfully in salads.

10. Wild Arugula

Though it is slower to grow than the annual arugula/rocket most of us are familiar with, wild arugula is a perennial plant that won’t bolt and give out at the first hint of summer warmth. It’s also perennial. Wild arugula has a similarly nutty, peppery taste as cultivated arugula though it is a little stronger.

With 10 perennial vegetables to go in the garden, that’s a great start to getting some permanent food production quickly. Add in some fruit trees and berries, and we are off and running to some big harvests for years to come. Isn’t that an exciting way to garden?

Related Content:

Easy Ways to Help the Planet:

  • Eat Less Meat: Download Food Monster, the largest plant-based Recipe app on the App Store, to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy. You can also buy a hard or soft copy of our favorite vegan cookbooks.
  • Reduce Your Fast Fashion Footprint: Take initiative by standing up against fast fashion Pollution and supporting sustainable and circular brands like Tiny Rescue that raise awareness around important issues through recycled zero-waste clothing designed to be returned and remade repeatedly.
  • Support Independent Media: Being publicly funded gives us a greater chance to continue providing high-quality content. Please consider supporting us by donating!
  • Sign a Petition: Your voice matters! Help turn petitions into victories by signing the latest list of must-sign petitions to help people, animals, and the planet.
  • Stay Informed: Keep up with the latest news and essential stories involving animals, the environment, sustainable living, food, health, and human interest topics by subscribing to our newsletter!
  • Do What You Can: Reduce waste, plant trees, eat local, travel responsibly, reuse stuff, say no to single-use plastics, recycle, vote smart, switch to cold water laundry, divest from fossil fuels, save water, shop wisely, Donate if you can, grow your food, volunteer, conserve energy, compost, and don’t forget about the microplastics and microbeads lurking in common household and personal care products!