Best Plants to Grow on a Green Roof | South Shore Roofing
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Best Plants to Grow on a Green Roof


Due to their many benefits, green roofs are a growing trend around the world. Also known as a living roof, it consists of a growing medium, such as dirt or soil, vegetation that covers the entire surface or parts of it, and a waterproof membrane at the bottom.

When it comes to large-scale green roofs on the rooftops of houses and building, they are usually installed by professionals, but it can also be a DIY project for those who want it done on a smaller scale.



Green roofs are both useful and appealing. They can function as habitats for wildlife, especially in urban areas lacking in green surfaces. Furthermore, you can turn them into a garden and grow your plants and vegetables, they create additional insulation to your home (among other home benefits), and also make your home visually appealing.

The process of installing a green roof can be relatively straightforward, depending on the type of green roof you choose to create. When it comes to maintenance, some green roofs can maintain themselves, while others that function as a garden need some specific care.

The type of plants you choose will ultimately determine how much maintenance is required, so here is a guide to help you decide which plants you may want and which will best fit your green roof.


1. Succulents

These plants are also known as water storage plants and have a thick, fleshy appearance. Because they do not need a lot of water nor soil to survive, they are excellent to grow in bulk on your green roof. Succulents can come in many different colors, so you can plant them accordingly to give your roof an aesthetic look.




Sedum, also commonly known as stonecrop, is found in cliffside cracks and is among the first plants to be used in the green roof industry. It has a smooth texture that looks like polished stone, and there are hundreds of varieties to choose from that come in different colors.



Sempervivum stays low on the ground and comes in many colors. Their name means “always/forever alive” in Latin, suggesting that a roof will be great looking all year round.


The flowers of these succulents will bloom throughout the growing season. They come in around 100 species with varieties of colors and shades of white, yellow, red, and purple, which change as the flowers fade.

Aeonium Arboreum

This plant grows like a tiny tree that is less than two feet tall. It will not spread on the ground, but it will add a nice looking vertical effect with a dark purple color to your roof.



2. Grasses

For a green roof, you need to have a particular grass species planted, as many kinds of grass would die on a living roof if they are not watered consistently during the summer. If you are not willing to wait for the grass to start growing, you can opt for green roof plant mixtures, which come ready to roll out, giving you an instant vegetation layer.

Armeria Maritima

This grass is perfect for roofs by the seaside. It looks like a tidy green clump of grass that is topped off with a pink or purple flower during the summer.

Carex Nigra

The grass has triangular stems with a root that requires less soil and is commonly known as sedge.


Wildflowers create a marvelous habitat for bumblebees and butterflies. They require deeper soil and are therefore used sparingly on green roofs. Instead of planting wildflower seeds, you can also opt for a pre-grown mixture felt mat that can be rolled out like a carpet.



Aster Alpinus

Intense weather and thin soil present no problems for these vivid purple flowers, which makes them ideal for green roofs. They also help to attract loads of butterflies.

Achillea Millefolium

This flower will spread across the green roof and will provide your green roof area with aromatic foliage. They are ferny, tall, and have large blossoms, perfect for butterflies, and light foot traffic will not affect them too much.


3. Herbs and Vegetables

If you like to have your own home-grown food and are prepared to keep a well-maintained garden, then a green roof with herbs or vegetables is the solution for you. This is an intensive type of green roof that needs regular care. It has a deeper growing medium and is suitable for all types of planting, unlike extensive green roofs that have pretty self-sustainable vegetation.





Some herbs that usually grow in dry, rocky areas can spread wildly on a roof garden. Here are three examples of herbs that do not need a lot of water and that are rather resistant to drought.

Thymes grow just a few inches tall, and apart from having uses in the kitchen they also give off a great aromatic scent.

The common oregano is widely known for the fragrance it brings to foods like pizza and pasta. It covers the rooftop ground and grows four to six inches tall.

The Roman chamomile that grows three inches tall also gives a ground cover with an aromatic smell and can tolerate foot traffic.




Keep in mind that vegetable garden will be an intensive green roof since vegetables require deeper soil for growing and a well-installed irrigation system. These kinds of green roofs are suitable for growing vegetables that require a growing medium of 12 inches up to 18 inches thick.

Some of the best and most common vegetables you can plant and grow are lettuce, onions, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, peppers, cucumber, potatoes, summer squash, and many others.


Get Planting

A green roof is a specific type of garden that requires some special care and carefully chosen plants, but with a little effort, it too can thrive. If you don’t want to turn it into a big project, you can start by testing out a small scale green roof, for example on a shed or a gazebo and feel free to contact us at South Shore Roofing, one of the top roofers in Savannah, GA.

All in all, the most important thing to keep in mind is that by choosing the right plants that grow well in your environment, you can have a green roof that flourishes, adding benefits to your home and the environment.

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