Permaculture isn’t just a trend; it is a way of life for many. Sure, some people do it for social media likes and woke points. But there are those, such as the Jaguar de Madera project, that are changing their communities by lifting people out of poverty while restoring dignity. To do it properly requires sharing knowledge, such as which plants do best for permaculture.
The best plants for permaculture are native species to your area as they are suited for your climate. But you may need to expand to create enough diversity for your taste. Look for low-maintenance plants with plenty of foliage, such as comfrey, Jerusalem artichoke, sweet potato, and red clover.
One big attraction for permaculture, aside from its sustainable and environmental benefits, is that it makes the land low maintenance. This is possible due to the type of plants used, which are hardy, often have deep roots, and can spread through subculture. Thus, we’ve put together a list of 10 low-maintenance plants.
10 Popular Plants For Permaculture
We’ve rounded up 10 plants that are (in many designs) excellent for permaculture. However, the internet is global and where you live is its own specific climate and conditions. Thus, not all our suggestions may suit your area. But you might discover that a cousin of one of our suggestions, or a slightly different variety, will be perfect for where you live.
Comfrey is a controversial choice. For example, it is a restricted plant in the United Kingdom. It has deep roots that are difficult to fully extract, making new plants with ease. Thus, check your local laws before sticking them into the ground. Nor is comfrey something you should eat.
However, it is used in many topical remedies. It also produces pretty flowers that attract bees. Its leaves are incredibly useful for mulch and to add to compost. While some people use it for oral remedies, it is strongly advised you research this first before trying, as it is considered toxic.
Dewberry is a hardy, fast-growing, low-lying shrub related to the trailing blackberry. Many consider it a weed, but its vitamin-C packed berries are edible. They are often used in pies, cobblers, smoothies, or just eaten raw.
The Jerusalem artichoke is the less famous relative of the sunflower. Like its popular family member, it pushes up bright yellow flowers. But it’s actually the root that people eat, often used in soups and risottos. It’s used similarly to a parsnip and, despite the name, has absolutely nothing to do with an artichoke.
This native North American tuber spreads very well, so ensure you are happy with them taking up the space. In addition to being used for food, they are also used to create windbreaks and bean trellises.
There are 25 species of mint, and you can find varieties native to Australia, Eurasia, North America, and southern Africa. Since it spreads like crazy, it does well as a ground cover amongst taller plants. It attracts bees, is nutritious, can be turned into essential oil, or made into tea. Also, certain bugs and pests are not fans, so it’s a handy natural repellent.
Nasturtiums are an incredibly low-maintenance plant whose flowers and leaves you can eat. They are full of healthy goodness, such as vitamin C, and have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Bees love the flowers, and it also attracts aphids away from other crops.
Its flowers are often used in culinary decoration and to brighten salads. In addition, the leaves are often used to brew tea, in salads, pesto, and as part of a stir-fry.
Oregano comes in a number of varieties. Like its mint relative, it makes an excellent edible ground cover. It’s healthy and is an ingredient in many home remedies for ailments such as inflammation, cramps, diarrhea, and indigestion.
Red clover is an excellent ground cover that is commonly added to female health supplements. Animals, including deer, cows, sheep, and goats, enjoy munching on it too. Plus, it attracts bees. It’s also fantastic for your soil: it takes nitrogen from the air and pushes it into the earth.
Sweet potatoes are a wonderful choice for people in warmer climates, especially if in high humidity. While it is believed to originate in Peru, the sweet potato is grown worldwide. Most of the hundreds of varieties produce leaves that can be eaten along with the root, although some leaves are not as tasty as others.
The sweet potato comes in a range of colors, including purple. It is incredibly healthy and ranked as the world’s 7th most important food crop. Sweet potato makes an excellent ground cover, with some varieties even producing flowers, and can handle a range of light conditions. Also, even if the frost kills off the leaves, the vines usually return in spring.
Strawberries are such a sweet little ground cover that comes in a fantastic array of varieties. Unlike some ground covers, these don’t have thorns, and the fruit is delicious. In addition, the low-lying plants make an excellent growing mulch, helping hold rainwater in.
It’s unclear where the clever walking onion originated from, but they are a hoot to behold. They sprout the bulb at the top, and the weight eventually causes it to bend back to earth, where it roots back down to shoot up another stalk. Thus, they are effective spreaders, some managing to cover three feet (a meter) in a year.
The onions are edible. Their taste is similar to shallots. They are sometimes sold as “tree onions” in markets.
The value of plants for permaculture is that they are such wonderful multi-taskers. Many of the above make brilliant ground cover while attracting pollinators and providing food for you, too. The trick is figuring out what will do best in the area you live in and where they should go. Happy planning and planting.