best plants for rooftop gardens

As readers of this article, you might some experience in buying rooftop plants or new to this. Many gardeners love to have some plants on their terrace/ roof but fail to select the best roof garden plants out there. In this article, I would like to share my experience & knowledge by discovering Rooftop Gardening.

Growing Plants on Rooftop

Why people often face difficulties when they selecting plants to their rooftop garden. Mainly as we, all know that in the rooftop, growing conditions hard than a ground-level garden.  High Heat during the day, Cold, stronger Wind & more chance to evaporate. So it has become quite tough to make your garden on the rooftop.

Not only that your selections are limited due to rooftops are not suitable above conditions, sometimes This is not designed to bear higher weight, sometimes water management is hard, has to depend on minimum soil, or has to go for container gardening, etc.

Then as a plant nursery owner, Gardner I also believe selecting the right plant is necessary. So we need to choose suitable plant varieties or types that can bear the above conditions meanwhile give you the best results. It will help you to save your money as well as time.

Before Select Roof Garden Plants

Before select plants for rooftop following aspects or situations need to consider because if your plants that are not matching to your garden or go for high cost, less effective methods. You will face a lot of trouble to maintain your rooftop garden.

Container Gradening

Container gardening

Probably, almost all of you go for container gardening, I want to make you think about something that we less focus. In container gardening, there are many high chances to effect outside cold conditions to your root system. So be careful If you are in a place in which the outer environment can easily affect the plant roots and cause them to die.

So always choose the right plant category which suitable for Container gardening at a low temperature. Another aspect is the weight of the container & responding to the weather conditions. You may choose a terra cotta, metal, wood, fiberglass, or plastic containers to grow plants. Though plastic is low in weight has the potential to fragile.

Containers, which are made from terra cotta, wood need more water than from containers, which made from metal, plastic, fiberglass because there are easily died due to its porous material. Water evaporate frequently than through the outer layer of containers.

Soil Mixture You use

How to prepare soil for a roof garden

If your rooftop has space, strength to do gardening by using more containers it is ok. However, if you are unsure that still need waterproofing before begin a rooftop garden complete those requirements.

You can add a light potting mix or heavy topsoil to grow you roof garden plants as per the plants you select. Though which type of soil select both have pros & cons. The soil-based mixture will absorb & retain water for a longer period of time compared to a lightweight potting mixture.

Irrigation to Rooftop Gardens

drip irrigation in rooftop gardens

Water sprinkling system might not effective for your terrace gardening as ground gardening. However, drip irrigation or manual water supply is more convenient than other methods. If you busy with day-to-day works drip irrigation help you to avoid you keeping plants alive for the whole day. Manual (hand) watering will make you more engaged with plants and has a chance to look at any improvements.

Managing Your Space Well

The design of your roof garden is important because it not only affects the view of your garden but also how to control the environmental conditions. For Example, you can go for verticle gardening & it will create more space as well as the shade for other plants. We can use more effectively unused space & create more attractively.

Roof Garden Plants: Based on Special Qualities & Types

The best rooftop plants can be decided based on the special qualities of plants & the plant species that can tolerate growing in suitable conditions.

So think these physical characteristics before buy plants to grow in your terrace or rooftop, which can overcome the harsh condition in your roof garden.

Fuzzy Leaves & Silver Foliage Plants for Roof Garden

Fuzzy Leaves & Silver Foliage Plants for Roof Garden

Silver & grey leaves indicate us this plant can survive in the drier conditions. Leaf color originated because of adopting to reduce transpiration in plants. These plants have low potential to evaporate water from leaves and because of that, plants have less chance to wilt.

They can thrive in full sun & in drained soil. Using these suitable plants to your roof garden not benefits to you also add more beauty to your garden. You can help this below rooftop plant list, which has these characteristics. Following are the few of these plants that best match to the rooftop garden

Plant NameUSDA Zones
Rose Champion (Lychnis coronaria)4 – 8
Fuzzy foxglove (Digitalis dubai)5 – 10
Gray Yarrow (Achillea “Moonshine”)4 – 10
Dusty Miller (Sencio cineraria)8 – 10
Snow-in-Summer (Cerastium tomentosum)3 – 7
Lavender5 – 9
Wormwood4 – 8
Lamb’s Ears4 – 8

Taproots Plants for Roof Garden

Taproots Plants for Roof Garden

Taproot plants have the capability to grow well and survive in the most drought environment. Taproot plants have the capability to retain moisture in their roots Some Taproot plant also store food in their roots. So might help plants have less chance to wilt. You can help this below rooftop plant list, which has these characteristics.

Plant NameUSDA Zones
Balloon Flower (Platycodon grandiflorus)3 – 8
Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)3 – 9
Lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus)5 – 9
Bugbane (Cimicifuga racemosa)3 – 9
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)3 – 9
Dill (Anethum graveolens)3 – 7
False Blue Indigo (Baptisia australis)4 – 8
Sea Holly (Eryngium)4 – 8
Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)3 – 9
Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale)3 – 8
Parsley (Petroselinum Crispum)4 – 9
Cushion Spurge (Eurphorbia polychroma)2 – 9
Coneflowers5 – 8

Evergreen Plants for Rooftop Garden

Evergreen Plants for Rooftop Garden

Evergreen plants are drought tolerant though all the evergreen plants not suitable for a container garden or roof garden, there are some plants that can be grown in containers & later it can be developed as bonsai plants. In the evergreen plant stiff leaves, waxy layer, or small leaves act as protection in the environment.

Plant NameUSDA Zones
Wintergreen Boxwood4 – 9
Yew – Hicks Yew5 – 8
Juniper -Skyrocket Juniper, Greenmound Juniper3 – 9
Agave Plants8 – 11
Amaranth (Amaranthus)2 – 11
Oregon Grape5 – 9
Emerald Green Arborvitae4 – 8

Mounding Plants for Rooftop Garden

Mounding Plants for Rooftop Garden

Mounding plants identifies as the ability to grow both vertically & horizontally. It also considers low maintenance plants for landscape purposes.  Most Mounding perennials plants use for groundcovers in drained soil as well as well grown under full sun. Below the list of Mounding, plants that many gardeners add to their rooftop.

Plant NameUSDA Zones
Daisy Bush (Senecio greyii)8 – 11
White Sage (Salvia aplana)8 – 11
Silver Horehound (Marrubium incanum)4 – 10
Dusty Miller (Senecio cineraria)8 – 10

Vegetables for Roof Garden

vegetable on roof

We all love to have vegetables on the rooftop but every plant might not be suitable for rooftop garden. between 6-8 hours of lights during the day will help plants to grow. Container vegetable gardening is far more advantageous than other methods especially since you garden in roof, balcony, or terrace. Some of the easiest vegetables to grow in containers are Cucumbers, Squash, Eggplant, Tomatoes & peas.

Plant NameUSDA Zones
Cucumber (Cucumis sativus)4 – 12
Squash (Curcurbita)3 – 10
Eggplant (Solanum melongena)5 – 12
Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum)8 – 11
Peas (Pisum sativum)2 – 11

Fruit Plants for Roof Garden

Fruit Plants for Roof Garden

Though there are many fruits that can be planted in a small area you have to select the best fruit plant suitable for your rooftop garden. The below list consists few on my favorite which can add you to your garden.

Plant NameUSDA Zones
Figs6 – 9
Pineapple9 – 11
Mulberries4 – 10
Gooseberries3 – 8
Lemon8 – 11
Pomegranate9 – 11
Guava9 – 11

Ground Covers for Roof Garden

Ground Covers for Roof Garden

Like most of the other perennials, the ground there are some ground covers are thrive on full sun. Some varieties have a pleasing aroma, berries, colorful flowers, evergreen foliage, etc.

Plant NameUSDA Zones
Woolly Thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus)5 – 8
Pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia)3 – 8
Lamb’s Ears (Stachys byzantia)4 – 8
Creeping Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis)3 – 9
Yellow Alyssum (Aurinia saxatilis)4 – 7
Silver Mound Artemisia (Artemisia schmidtiana)3 – 7
Ice Plant (Delosperma cooperi)5 – 10

Grass for Roof Garden

Grass for Roof Garden

Do you want to make a rooftop grass garden or add grass to your rooftop vegetable garden? There are a number of grasses but some need good drainage also better climate to grow. Especially need to water constantly in summer. Here are some good grass variety that can add some value to your selection.

Plant NameUSDA Zones
Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)4 – 9
Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum)9 – 11
Sedge (Carex nigra)4 – 8

Herbs/Medicinal Plants for Rooftop Herb Garden

rooftop herb garden

People are interested add some herbs to there garden. There is an advantage because there is a wide variety of herbs that are well grown in dry & under full sun. The below list are some of the ideal herbs that are suitable to grow in your balcony, terrace, or rooftop.

Plant NameUSDA Zones
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)5 – 9
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)4 – 10
Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)7 – 11
Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum)7 – 10
Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum)10 – 11
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)10 – 11

Succulents for Roof Garden

Succulents for Roof Garden

Many succulents that have grey and silver and have adaptations to help the plants survive climate extreme. But everyone can’t do survive on these conditions. Especially if you planted small plants.  Below succulent plant, list much suitable to your garden.

Plant NameUSDA Zones
Painted Lady (Echeveria derenbergii)9 – 11
Shining Pink Rock Purslane 9 – 11
Sedum Spp.4 – 10
Crassula Spp.10 – 11
Echeveria9 – 11
Sempervivum Spp.4 – 9
Delosperma Spp.5 – 9
Tree Houseleek (Aenoium arboreum)9 – 11

Conclusion

There are a number of plants that can be grown in a place like a rooftop, terrace, balcony. Most articles written about this topic might not enough to give an idea about suitability. The above-listed plants may or may not exactly match your condition. So my request is to go through with each plant that intends to grow. Find more info about the plants grow them & share your ideas & suggestions with us.