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[European Plant Lists] [Plants for the U.S.]

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Wildflowers in Alpharetta by LSV

Photo by LSV

Proven hardy greenroof plants are the Alpine types and those that can retain a certain amount of moisture within their leaves or bulbs.  So, in theory, other plants known to flourish in areas of high heat, drought, wind, direct sun, and temperature extremes should be particularly adaptable to the sometimes harsh conditions of a greenroof.  I would speculate that most plants naturally occurring along county roads, expressways, abandoned sites and the like that do not receive irrigation would adapt well to the greenroof environment.  The caveat here is to only select shallow rooting plants, not those with taproots!

There are growing resources out there, including governments, books, professional association magazines and websites; this page is meant as a start.  Please also review Recommended Readings, as well as advice from the column of "Ask Ed," our Plant Editor.

September, 2008: Portland, Oregon, Ecoroof Plant Report Now Available
The ecoroof plant report presents information about the most sustainable ecoroof plants in Portland, Oregon and gives guidance on the plant selection for various ecoroof site conditions. This report presents information from the 2003 Plant Survival Findings in the Pacific Northwest report and from recent assessments of 15 ecoroofs and 18 plants in Portland. The report also describes experiences of local designers and maintenance personnel with ecoroofs. Copies are available online at

On to some suggestions:

The plants listed below with the U. S. granite outcrop as their natural habitat also fit this profile; Source:  Professor Darrel Morrison, School of Environmental Design, UGA, 1999.

Wildflower Garden in Alpharetta by LSV

Photo by LSV

Wildflower blends that are native to particular regions should also grow and flourish on greenroofs provided a good drainage layer, and occasional maintenance.  But keep in mind that generally, native plants will require additional water requirements since they have been adapted to search deeper for water during periods of drought.  Therefore, it is usually necessary to provide a deeper depth of growing media for native as opposed to non-native extensive greenroof plants.

Several U. S. state Departments of Transportation, including Georgia's, have been experimenting with different blends of wildflower seeds on highway medians that are appropriate for their area.   Following is also a list of wildflower species appropriate for, but not necessarily native to, Georgia; Sources:  S & Seeds of Carpinteria, CA (Phone:  805.684.0436; e-mail:; website:; and general references from the excellent book, Gardening with Native Plants of the South, by Sally Wasowski with Andy Wasowski, 1994.

So this is just the beginning of a long list of potentially successful greenroof vegetation that eventually should be as vast as the United States.  Please share your suggestions and successes with greenroof plants so that they may be included.


Rock Garden Flowers Extensive Greenroof of Sedums by Optigrun

             Photo on Right Source: Optigrün international AG,


Achillea millefolium Native to Europe & Asia, Yarrow is naturalized here in the U.S. Once established, it's very drought tolerant.
Allium bivalve Native to the U. S. Granite Outcrops
Centaurea cyanus Annual; Coneflower or Bachelor's Button.
Chrysantheum leucanthemum Native to Asia, Ox-Eye Daisy needs well drained soil.
Coreopsis lanceolata, tinctoria U.S. native of the S.E.; also C. auriculata, grandiflora, major, nundata, rosea, verticillata
Cosmos bipinnatus, sulphureus Native to Mexico, a self-seeding annual
Echinacea purpurea U.S. native of the S.E.; also E. pallida, paradoxa
Gaillardia aristata, pulchella Annual & perennial, Firewheel likes well drained soil
Hieracium venosum                 Native to the U. S. Granite Outcrops
Liatris microcephala Gayfeather is native to the U. S. Granite Outcrops
Oenothera speciosa Showy Primrose is a native of North America east of the Mississippi; also O. fruticosa, tetragona
Opuntia drummondii Prickly Pear is a native of U. S. Granite Outcrops
Phlox drummondii U. S. native of the S.E.; also P. carolina complex, glaberrima, maculata, paniculata, pilosa. P divaricata native to eastern North America
Potentilla canadensis Native of U. S. Granite Outcrops
Rudbeckia hirta Black Eyed Susan is a U. S. native of eastern U. S.; also R. fulgida, lacinat, maxima, nitida, triloba
Sedum pusillum, smallii Native of U.S. Granite Outcrops
Senecio smallii, tomentosa    Ragwort is native of U.S. Granite Outcrops; also S. aureus, glabellus, obovatus, native to eastern North America
Solidago spp. Goldenrod is native to the eastern U.S. with numerous spp., such as S. nemoralis, odora, pintorum, rigida, rugosa, sempervirens, speciosa, and ulmifolia 
Tradescantia hirsutocaulis Spiderwort is native to U. S. Granite Outcrops
Yucca filamentosa Native of U.S. Granite Outcrops




Andropogon ternarius, virginicus Native of eastern U.S. & Granite Outcrops, abandoned fields; widely distributed, many species
Aristida purpurascens Native from N. Carolina to Mississippi
Bouteloua curtipendula, hirsuta Sideoats Grama and Hairy Grama are native to the Texas area
Panicum lithophilum, and spp. Switchgrass is native to North America; also P. virgatum


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