Perennial Foods

Edible Perennials That Will Bear Year After Year

Green fingers
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Want to enjoy home-grown food year after year without having to start your garden from scratch each spring? Then, it's time to discover the perennial food garden. All of the following herbs, vegetables, fruits and legumes can be planted once and enjoyed for many seasons to come.

What Is a Perennial?

A perennial is a plant that lives for more than two years. This differentiates it from annuals, which must be planted each year, and biennials, which live for two years.

Trees and shrubs are classified here as perennials, in addition to herbaceous perennials.

The key is that you won't have to reseed or replant these each year. You can set up your herb garden, garden or orchard and it should last for three years to several decades, depending on the plant. 

While all plants listed are perennials, they may not grow perennially in all locations. In your local climate, plants that come back year after year may not be able to survive over a more extreme winter or summer. Check for compatibility with your region before making a purchase.

Perennial Herbs

Basil (African Blue, East Indian)
Chives
Fennel
Garlic
Ginger
Horseradish
Lavender
Lemon Balm
Mint
Onions (Potato onions, Shallots, Egyptian onions, Japanese bunching onions, Welsh onions, Chinese leeks)
Oregano
Parsley
Rosemary
Sage
Thyme

Perennial Vegetables

Artichoke (Jerusalem, also known as sunchokes)
Asparagus
Broccoli (Nine Star, Purple Cape)
Radicchio
Rhubarb
Spinach (Ceylon, Sissoo, New Zeland)
Sweet Potato
Tree cabbages/tree collards
Water Cress
Yams

Perennial Fruits

You are probably familiar with many of these as tree crops or vine crops that you see at the grocery store. They are often specific to a particular climate - you won't be able to grow citrus up north.

Apples
Apricots
Avocado
Blackberries
Cherries
Currants
Dates
Fig
Goji Berries
Huckleberries
Grapes
Kiwi
Lemons
Limes
Nectarines
Olives
Oranges
Peaches
Pears
Persimmon
Plums
Raspberries
Strawberries (Ever-bearing varieties can be maintained as perennials in colder climates)

Perennial Legumes

Beans (Winged bean, Scarlet Runner)

Perennial Nuts

Almond
Chestnut
Hazelnut
Macadamia
Pecan
Pistachio
Walnut

Tips for Growing Perennials In Your Garden

Perennials may give you good value for your investment in both time and money. You don't have to prepare the planting area each year or spend money on seeds, seedlings or starts each year.

If you are going to have both perennials and annuals in your garden, it's wise to keep them in separate areas to make planting annuals easier, as well as cleaning up at the end of the growing season.

Be warned that some perennials can be so hardy that they are actually spreading and invasive. Everbearing strawberry plants and blackberry vines are known to spread and spread. You may want to plant them in containers to control them.

Take time to chat with a local garden expert about your plans for perennials. You'll be able to pick her brain for what works best in your climate, precautions to take, and what the expected growing season and yield will be. Look for a local Master Gardener program, county extension service, and available experts at nearby garden centers.