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Green Roof Plant Blog

Artemisia frigida

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Also known as Arctic Sage, this member of the Aster family is common in the Rocky Mountains and great plains of North America. Growing to approximately a foot tall, this plant is perfect for erosion control or simply as ground cover. It loves the sunshine and is considered drought tolerant. It is a woody-based perennial with an evergreen color, covered in silvery hairs, giving it an almost frosty appearance. Blooming in the summer months, the pale yellow flowers and fruit are rather discreet.

The arctic sage will spread rapidly in over-grazed lands, making some consider it as a weed. Although it was once valued by the Native Americans as they commonly used it to treat various ailments such as colds, wounds and headaches.


Photo Credit: James Sowerwine

Delosperma cooperi

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Brilliant magenta flowers bloom in late summer and will last into the early autumn month. Also known as Pink Carpet, this low-growing succulent will spread quickly, creating generous ground cover. A part of the Aizoaceae family, this dwarf perennial plant is native to South Africa. Very drought tolerant and growing only four to five inches tall, it flourished best in hardiness zones six through ten. Preferably planted in more arid climates, Pink Carpet won't tolerate soggy soils. The winter foliage ranges from yellow-green to an orange toned bronze color.

 

Aster oblongifolium

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Monday, September 09, 2013

With a slight chill in the air these past weeks, I thought it was time to introduce some plants suitable for green roofs that will happily show their full colors in the autumn months. My first pick is Aster oblongifolium. Also known as the aromatic aster, this herbaceous perennial is native to the Central and Eastern United States. This wildflower enjoys full sun exposure and grows best in hardiness zones three through eight. Typically growing one to two feet tall, this plant will take on a more bush appearance when compared to other aster varieties. Taking the size of this wildflower into consideration, this perennial should be chosen for a semi-intensive rooftop garden.

The blooms can start appearing as early as August and last into November. These showy bluish-purple flowers have an amber colored center which commonly attracts birds, bees and butterflies. When crushed, this plant will give out a pleasant balsam-like scent, hence the name, aromatic aster!

Eragrostis spectabilis

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, August 08, 2013


Photo Credit: Illinois Wildflowers

A part of the Poaceae family,  this ornamental grass is loved by a variety of bird species. Growing approximately 1-2 feet tall, the Purple Love Grass makes for fantastic ground cover. Blooming July to August, it forms a purplish-red haze if looking from a far. The flowers usually lose color and brown by October, leaving the flat, coarse leaves in a tangled disarray. Enjoying full sun exposure, this native plant is relatively low maintenance. Very drought resistant and accepting of most soil types, it grown best in hardiness zones 5-9. This grass will spread by self-seeding (resembling miniature tumbleweeds) or by stems taking root along the ground at the nodes.Eragrostis spectabilis prefers semi-intensive green roofs and can survive without artificial irrigation.


Photo Credit: Prairie Moon Nursery

Intrinsic Perennial Gardens

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Located North of Chicago, nestled on the Wisconsin-Illinois border, is a wholesale container nursery called Intrinsic Perennial Gardens. Started in 1992, they specialize mainly in one gallon perennials, including ferns, grasses, shrubs, vines and green roof plants.


A Family owned and operated company, Brent Horvath is the current owner of Intrinsic Perennial Gardens. But the family business stretches way back into the 1970s, when his father, Lajos, created Intrinsic Landscaping and his mother, Trudy, ran Flowers by Intrinsic. In 2002, Jörg Breuning introduced modern green roof technology to Brent and his brother, Kurt, of Intrinsic Landscaping. Working together, our companies created the green roof on the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago. Not only is Brent the president of Intrinsic Perennial Gardens, he has recently shared with us a list of his top picks of native plants which would specifically flourish on green roofs. Also in the line to appear on bookshelves in the fall is a book by Brent on Sedum, published by Timber Press.

 
Geum x Sea Breeze   Photo credit: Intrinsic Perennial Gardens

Intrinsic Perennial Gardens strives to grow the best ornamental plants as naturally as possible. Their unique operation allows them to breed and introduce new plants into the trade. They offer over 900 varieties of species, 50 of which have been selected, bred and introduced into their nursery. They propagate around 80% of their own material. Approximately a third is done by seed, a third by cuttings and a third by division. Included on their 23 acre farm is a one acre field specifically for plug production. 

Geum triflorum

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, July 11, 2013


Photo courtesy of Kirk Prairie 2008

Also known as Prairie Smoke or the Old Man's Whiskers, this herbaceous perennial is one of the first to show it's true colors in the spring. Blooming a bold red, this wildflower is a native to northern America. Residing mainly on prairie fields, Geum triflorum loves the sunshine, and is also known to be drought tolerant. A wildflower of the Rosaceae (rose) family, it flourishes in hardiness zones 3-9, and is quite the attraction for bees and butterflies. Growing anywhere from six inches to a foot and a half tall, the fern-like leaves make way for the plume-tipped fruits. Bowing like they just finished a spectacular show, these bulbs will eventually transform into feathery seed tails, in hopes of spreading their seeds. This feathery appearance has also been mistaken as a cloud of smoke.

Prairie Smokes was highlighted as a favorite native green roof plant by Brent Horvath, the owner of Intrinsic Perennial Gardens in Northern Illinois. 

 

Allium schoenoprasum - Wild Chives

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Friday, June 21, 2013

By: Samantha Yurek


Chives growing on the Bronx County Courthouse, June 2013
Photocredit: Jörg Breuning - Green Roof Technology

Wild Chives are a favorite in the culinary world, used as flavoring and toppings for so many dishes. This perennial is the smallest species of edible onions, deriving from the same family as leeks, shallots, garlic and other onions. It's native land is vast, covering North America, Europe and Asia. But it grows best in full sun within the hardiness zones 4-8. Growing from small bulbs underground, the tubular stalks are extremely fragrant. The bulbs tend to grow closer together forming clusters. Usually growing to around a foot tall, they produce lavender flowers in the summer that look similar to pom-poms and are great for attracting bees.

Sedum album Variety Coral Carpet

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, June 06, 2013

By: Samantha Yurek


Photo Credit: Emory Knoll Farms

This sedum, a herbaceous perennial, is a staple green roof plant. Growing best in zones 3-9, this succulent is drought tolerant and loves residing in full sun. Small rounded succulent leaves start as a slamon color changing to a bright green and then eventually a rich red color in winter. They bloom small white flowers in early summer. Easily propagated, plant parts that have been cut and spread out will take root with little effort. Growing about 4-6 inches high, this sedum spreads fairly well, creating sufficient ground cover for extensive green roofs.


Photo Credit: Deeproot Plant Database

The coral carpet variety attracts butterflies and seems to be a favorite of pigeons. Jörg and I recently visited ABC's Carpet warehouse in the Brox, complete with green roof space. The pigeons have been pulling apart the coral carpet, leaving small cuttings behind. This isn't necessarily a bad habit, considering these small plant parts will root themselves, creating even more ground cover.

Petrorhagia saxifraga

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, May 23, 2013

 

Also known as the Tunic Flower, this low-growing plant will make a lovely addition to any green roof. The flower stems shoot up from the dense grass-like foliage, reaching almost a foot in height and displaying gorgeous white or pale pink flowers. Blooming throughout the summer, this plant loves full exposure to the sun. A hardy perennial that is drought tolerant and can withstand harsher temperatures or poor soil. It grows best in hardiness zones four through seven. The tunic flower has relatively shallow root systems, allowing them to be effective for ground cover. Although native to Eurasia, it has been naturalized in northeast America.

 

 

 

Opuntia aureispina

Green Team at Green Roof Technology, - Thursday, April 25, 2013

Photo Credit: John Kameras

A part of the cacti family, the Opuntia aureispina is an endangered perennial endemic to Texas and parts of Mexico. This succulent enjoys full sun and tolerates drought well, flourishing best in hardiness zones 9 through 11. Also known as the Rio Grande Prickly Pear, this shrub has a light bluish-green tint to its flattened oval stems. These waxy stems are protected by bright orange, sharp spines ranging from 2-6 inches long. Come late spring to early summer, yellow flowers appear flaring an orangey-red color at the base. Growing anywhere from 2-4 feet tall, like most prickly pears, they form a dense cluster of plants. 





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