Green roofs are becoming increasingly popular due to their myriad of benefits. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing and eco-friendly, but they also provide excellent insulation, making your home energy efficient. The best plants for a green roof can withstand harsh conditions such as wind and frost, are drought-resistant, tolerant of poor soil, and require little to no maintenance.
Previously, we looked at the different types of green roofs and in this article we look at the plants that are more suited. Choosing the right plants for green roofs is key to harness these benefits, and they must meet certain criteria. They should also be attractive and offer food and shelter for wildlife.
- Choose plants that can withstand harsh conditions like wind, frost, and drought.
- Plants for green roofs should be low-maintenance and capable of living in poor soil.
- The plant should offer excellent ground cover, and if possible, provide food and shelter for wildlife.
Most suitable plants for a green roof
Mosses belong to the division Bryophyta sensu stricto, part of the larger bryophytes group which includes liverworts and hornworts as well. These non-vascular, flowerless plants usually form dense green clumps or mats, making them a fantastic choice for creating a lush, carpet-like effect on a green roof.
Incorporating moss into your green roof can help create a verdant, low-maintenance landscape that thrives throughout the year. Along with the other plants listed above, Moss can contribute to building a diversified, resilient, and visually stunning green roof ecosystem that supports a variety of local wildlife and promotes environmental sustainability.
Gold Sedum (Sedum Kamtschaticum)
The Gold Sedum, also known as Sedum Kamtschaticum, is one of the star plants when it comes to green roofing. This robust plant is adept at surviving with minimal growing medium and is highly resistant to drought. It’s golden-yellow flowers that bloom in summer offer an attractive contrast to the usual green, making it a visual delight. The vibrant flowers also serve as a food source for honeybees and other pollinators, enhancing the biodiversity of your green roof.
Often found in lawns, Birdsfoot Trefoil is a part of the pea family and grows low to the ground, making it suitable for green roofs. It blossoms into a profusion of yellow flowers in summer, which later develop into seedpods. Rich in pollen, this plant is invaluable for bees and butterflies.
Carex is a large genus of grass-like plants, known as sedges, belonging to the family Cyperaceae. With over 2,000 species, Carex is the most species-rich genus in the family. These plants are often referred to as ‘true sedges’. Their hardy and versatile nature makes them an excellent addition to a green roof.
White Stonecrop (Sedum Album)
Another variant of the hardy Sedum genus, White Stonecrop, is a low-maintenance plant that grows in mat-like stems and leaves. Its star-shaped white flowers, when viewed en masse, present a captivating spectacle akin to swathes of candyfloss. It’s an excellent choice for green roofs due to its ability to grow in thin, dry soil and provide good cover and insulation for roofs.
Meadow Saxifrage (Saxifraga Granulata)
The Meadow Saxifrage is a perennial plant known for its snow-white blooms that appear early in the year. Growing up to 50cm, it provides volume and texture to a green roof. This plant prefers full sun and well-drained soil and produces an abundance of nectar and pollen, making it an ideal food source for bees.
Widow’s Cross (Sedum Pulchellum)
Widow’s Cross is a versatile plant that can adapt to challenging conditions where many other plants might perish. It is exceptionally hardy, drought-resistant, and its beautiful pink and lime green flowers add a lively color palette to your roof.
Two Row Stonecrop (Sedum Spurium)
This resilient plant can thrive in poor soil, making it an excellent candidate for green roofing. It exhibits beautiful star-shaped flowers in shades of pink and red throughout summer. Its succulent leaves store water, providing added fire protection compared to regular grass covers.
Houseleeks, or Sempervivums, are evergreen alpine plants known for their extreme hardiness. They can survive even in bricks or rocks. Their rosettes and spiral foliage present an eye-catching view, especially when they bear flowers in the summer.
This sweet-smelling plant produces clumps of white or pink flowers and is a favorite among pollinators. Known for its medicinal properties, Yarrow is not just a pretty addition to your green roof but also a functional one.
Sea Thrift is a grassy plant that thrives in dry, sandy soils. Its long stems bearing pink or white flowers in summer can offer an exceptional view when at its prime. Originating from coastal areas, this plant is adapted to harsh conditions, making it well-suited for green roofs.
A familiar herb from the Mediterranean, Oregano is used in various cuisines and is also a perfect fit for green roofs. It grows well in well-drained soil and requires minimal maintenance. When in bloom, it produces attractive, pollen-rich flowers that insects love, adding a new dimension to your rooftop herb garden.
When designing your green roof, remember that it’s not just about choosing hardy plants; it’s also about creating a thriving ecosystem that supports local wildlife. These ten plants offer a beautiful mix of aesthetics and functionality, making them excellent choices for any green roof project.
Installing a green roof requires careful selection of the right plants that can withstand the conditions and provide an array of benefits. From stunning aesthetics to supporting local wildlife, these ten plants for green roofs prove to be exceptional choices. Whether you opt for Gold Sedum’s brilliant yellow blooms or the hardiness of Houseleeks, the diversity of these plants offers something for everyone’s taste. Invest in these green roof plants and take a step towards a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle.
If you still need help choosing the best type of plants for green roof, do get in touch with us and we will guide you through the process.