Perennial Vegetables: What to Grow

What’s the Difference Between an Annual and a Perennial?

The short answer is that perennials come back year after year and annuals die back in the fall and need to be replanted in the spring. Many of us think of perennials in our flower gardens, but some vegetables are perennials as well! Some plants can be both annual and perennial based on where they are grown. If a perennial’s native growing conditions are warm, they may be able to grow in colder climates, but may not survive year after year, making it an annual in that zone. Either way, all of the perennial vegetables make great additions to your garden or landscape.

Why You Should Plant Perennial Vegetables in Your Garden 

  • Cost

Perennial vegetables are cost effective, because while they take a small initial investment, you’ll get more and more crops every year. You can grow them from seed yourself or use starter plants. Starting from seed will be less expensive, but buying an established plant will sometimes be the best option to ensure success. 

  • Maintenance 

Perennial vegetables are great for your garden because they are low maintenance. Once you have a hardy and established plant, it takes less care from you. This means less watering and more resistance to pests and diseases! If you wan’t as little maintenance as possible, plant these crops in areas that don’t take up gardening space and simply let them do their thing.

perennial vegetables

Globe artichokes

Globe artichokes are such a beautiful addition to your garden. If you don’t like the taste of artichoke, add them to your flowers garden and you’ll be amazed by how beautiful they are when they flower. They can be grown in many zones but are hardy perennials in zones 7-10. Artichokes should be started indoors from seed about 8-10 weeks before your average last frost. You can plant them out when the danger of frost is gone. 

Soak your seeds in water for about 12 hours before planting, then plant them a 1/4 inch deep in your seedling trays. Keep the temperature of your tray between 60 and 80 degrees, or else your seedlings won’t germinate. You can place your seedling tray on a heating mat, or simply keep them in a very warm area of your house.  Plant out in an area with full sun and well draining loam or sandy soil. Water as you would the rest of your garden. Fertilize with a high nitrogen fertilizer every 4 weeks.

wild asparagus and a knife in the grass


Asparagus is a cool weather hardy perennial in zones 3-8. We love asparagus, because it’s one of the first vegetables you can harvest in the springtime! It is the first taste of what’s to come in spring and has that freshness in every bite. We recommend planting your asparagus from crowns rather than seed as it gets established in your garden quicker. A crown is an asparagus root that is two years old, so planting them will give you a head start. Asparagus takes patience, because even if you plant a crown, you’ll still have to wait about two years to harvest your first crop. Even if you see little shoots in its first year, try not to harvest them, so that the plant can get really established. Once it gets going though, you should have a steady asparagus crop for around twenty years. 

Choose a spot in your garden where your asparagus won’t be disturbed year after year. You can dedicate a raised bed to your asparagus plants or plant them in rows in the ground. 

Dig a trench that is about a foot wide and 6 inches deep. Make a small ridge down the center of your trench that is about 2 inches tall and place your asparagus crowns on top, about a foot apart. Cover loosely with good soil and a layer of mulch on top. Give your crowns 1-2 inches of water a week. If weeds appear, gently pull as not to disturb the crowns. Fertilize once after your spring harvest has ended.



Rhubarb is another vegetable that is a hardy perennial in zones 3-8. While you can plant rhubarb from seed, it’s so easy to buy crowns that will start producing for you quickly. If you plant from seed, you will need to wait around two years to start to harvest. 

Plant your rhubarb crowns in spring or fall in loamy soil in an area with full sun exposure. We recommend planting in the late fall after everything goes dormant. This will give you a spring crop. In the spring, fertilize with an all purpose fertilizer before you see growth. To “force” your rhubarb in the spring, you can cover your plant with a terracotta pot that has all the holes plugged up. This will warm the soil and make your rhubarb send up stalks that are tender and beautifully pink.

sun chokes in the grass


Sunchokes or Jerusalem artichokes are also a perennial that does well in zones 3-8. They are a wild sunflower that is tall and super attractive to add to your garden and they have the added bonus of having delicious tubers. 

Plant your tubers out when your soil temperature has reached 50 degrees fahrenheit in the spring. The soil should be loose and well draining. All around though, sunchokes are not a fussy plant and should do well even if conditions are slightly off. Harvest late fall after a frost has come and gone by gently digging up the tubers of your plants, leaving some for the next year. Over winter by adding a good layer of mulch around the base of your plants. Fertilizer by adding a layer of compost around the middle of summer. 

All of these awesome vegetables can become staples in your garden with very little effort, and be amazing producers year after year! We hope you give growing some of these a go! They are totally worth it in the long run. Happy planting!


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