Green roof plant responses to different substrate types and depths under various drought conditions

C. E. Thuring, R. D. Berghage, D. J. Beattie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations

Abstract

Plants suitable for extensive green roofs must tolerate extreme rooftop conditions, and the substrates in which they grow must fulfill horticultural and structural requirements. Deeper substrates may retain more water for plants during dry periods, but will also weigh more, especially when near saturation. A study in central Pennsylvania was conducted to evaluate the influence of substrate type and depth on establishment of five green roof plants. Two stonecrops [white stonecrop (Sedum album) and tasteless stonecrop (Sedum sexangulare)], one ice plant (Delosperma nubigenum), and two herbaceous perennials [maiden pink (Dianthus deltoides) and saxifrage pink (Petrorhagia saxifraga)] were planted in three depths (30, 60, and 120 mm) of two commercially available green roof substrates (expanded shale and expanded clay). Study flats inside a plasticulture tunnel received three drought treatments (no drought, 2 weeks early drought, and 2 weeks late drought). The two stonecrops performed well under most conditions, although tasteless stonecrop was stunted by early drought. Ice plant only grew well when provided with water. When subjected to any drought, the herbaceous perennials had the fewest survivors in the expanded shale. Saxifrage pink flowered profusely wherever it survived. The study plants were most affected by substrate depth, except for maiden pink, which responded solely to drought. When subjected to early drought conditions, the herbaceous perennials did not survive in 30 mm of either substrate, or in 60 mm of expanded shale. Although the stonecrops performed well in 60 mm of substrate when subjected to drought, their performance was superior in the expanded clay compared with shale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-401
Number of pages7
JournalHortTechnology
Volume20
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Horticulture

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