Perennial Fruits & Vegetables
Perennial fruits and vegetables yield edible harvests year after year. Some perennials, such as asparagus and raspberries, are typically planted in vegetable gardens for their food crops. Other perennial plants, such as blueberries and strawberries, are planted for their ornamental value as well as their fruit yield. A majority of perennial vegetable and fruit plants need about six hours of sun each day.
Asparagus (Asparagus), a perennial vegetable in the lily family (Liliaceae), thrives in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hardiness Zones 3 to 10. Asparagus grows best in rich, moist soils that receive full sun. Asparagus plants are female or male. Females bloom white flowers and red berries late in the summer, while the male plants generally yield better crops. The edible asparagus spears ripen in April and May. Gardeners should plant asparagus seeds or roots in the spring. Roots typically take two to three years to mature. Asparagus beetles sometimes feed on these plants.
Highbush blueberry shrubs (Vaccinium corymbosum), perennial members of the Ericaceae family, generally perform well in USDA Zones 5 to 8. These shrubs prefer wet, acidic soils in partly shady to fully sunny locations. The highbush blueberry reaches between six and 12 feet high with spreads ranging from eight to 12 feet. White or pink blossoms bloom in May, followed by blueberries that mature later in the summer. The red stems add color to the winter landscape, while the green leaves turn purple and red shades in the autumn. Gardeners often plant highbush blueberry shrubs in native plant gardens, borders and woodland gardens.
Rhubarb (Rheum), a tart vegetable in the Polygonaceae family, does well in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 8. Rhubarb plants prefer moist, well-drained soils in part shade to full sun positions. This clump-forming perennial reaches two to three feet in height and two to four feet in width. Small, white blossoms appear from May through August. While the leaves contain toxins, the red stalks are often used in pies and sauces. Rhubarb curculio, stalk borers and crown rot occasionally affect this plant. Gardeners typically plant rhubarb in vegetable gardens and borders.
Raspberry bushes (Rubus idaeus ), perennial fruits in the rose family (Rosaceae), thrive in moist, acidic soils that receive partial shade to full sun. Winter hardy in USDA Zones 4 to 8, raspberry bushes reach three to five feet in both height and spread. White blossoms appear in April and May, followed by ripe, red berries in June and July. Potential problems include root rot, cane borers, anthracnose and crown borers.
Wild strawberry plants (Fragaria vesca), fruiting members of the Rosaceae family, grow well in USDA Zones 5 to 9. Native to temperate regions of Asia and Europe, wild strawberry plants prefer well-drained soils in fully sun locations. Flowers feature white petals surrounding yellow centers. These flowers bloom from May through August, followed by red berries that mature throughout the summer. Wild strawberry plants often suffer from powdery mildew, leaf scorch and spider mites. Gardeners typically plant wild strawberries in containers, rock gardens and native plant gardens.