(Sedum, Carex, Sempervivum, Opuntia, Aster, Oregano, Dianthus, Rudbeckia, and more)
What do you do when you run out of room in your garden for new plants? Look up and you'll see the answer. Over the last two decades, green roofs and green walls have emerged as popular ways to garden and help the environment too. Read on to learn more about the plants for green roofs available at Plant Delights Nursery.
Read More About plants for green roofs
What is the purpose of a green roof? Other than aesthetics (plants for green roofs look great!) green roofs help the environment and reduce electricity consumption. Much like a shade tree, a green roof prevents sunlight from warming buildings during summer. Plants for green roofs also transpire water which provides evaporative cooling during summer. Green roof plants reduce winter heating costs because of their insulating effect. Plants for green roofs filter air pollutants and reduce stormwater runoff, keeping the local air and water clean.
What are the best plants for green roofs? Any drought-tolerant, heat-tolerant, wind-tolerant, low-maintenance, sun-loving plant with a shallow root system is a good candidate for a green roof garden. Nationwide, the most widely used plant for green roofs is Sedum. Most sedum species do well throughout the US. We have assembled a list of many great plants for green roofs from our massive on-line plant catalog and have included plants that are widely used. A good green roof will have at least 10 different plant species in order to provide visual interest, attract the widest variety of wildlife, prevent the disease problems of monoculture (if one species falters, there are several others to replace it). Due to climatic differences, a green roof in Seattle will have different plants than a green roof in Atlanta. Our list below of plants for green roofs includes both extensive and semi-intensive green roof species for a variety of environments nationwide. Not every plant on this list will work well on every green roof. Green roofs are a fairly new field and we are always discovering new plants that perform well, so check back often for periodic updates.
Since 1988, Plant Delights Nursery has been the choice of serious gardeners and plant collectors looking for the best and rarest perennial plants. We are pleased to have received the Perennial Plant Association Retail Award in 2011, the American Horticulture Society Commercial Award in 2002, and to have been selected as one of the Best Mail Order Plant Nurseries - Garden Design Magazine 2010. Welcome to our family of plant lovers!
(aka A1FL-113) This selection of the worldwide native Adiantum capillus-veneris comes from Washington Co., Florida, about an hour west of Tallahassee. Adiantum capillus-veneris 'Falling Waters' has made a splendid patch in our garden with frond pinnae (fern leaflets) that are slightly smaller and narrower than what we typically see in other regional southern maidenhair fern forms. Our five-year-old clumps have spread to 2' wide and so far have survived single digit temperatures with no problems. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
(aka: Adiantum capillus-veneris A3T-022) We discovered this wonderfully cut leaf form of the southeastern native Adiantum capillus-veneris along Wasp Creek in Kendall County, Texas. Unlike most forms of southern maidenhair fern, the pinnae are shaped like narrow Japanese hand fans. For us, Adiantum 'Fan Dance' forms a tight 6" tall patch that expands to 2' wide in 5 years. We are pleased to finally be able to share this special form of southern maidenhair fern. Moist soils are best. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
(aka: Adiantum c-v A1CR-090) In 2010, we discovered a small patch of Adiantum capillus-veneris growing in a wet seep at 1680' elevation on the south slope of Crete's Mt. Ida...very near an amazing population of white-flowered Dracunculus vulgaris. Our spore collections germinated well enough that we are able to share. The parent clump was more compact than most of the US native forms, maturing around 6" tall. We expect a 2' wide patch in 5 years...we'll find out together. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
(coll. #A2T-034) This form of the wonderful southern maidenhair fern, Adiantum capillus-veneris, comes from spores that we collected in 2000 in the Edwards Plateau region of Texas near the town of Rock Springs. Not that you are interested, but we were stopped three times by border patrol agents who searched our backpacks for illegal aliens...glad I carried a small backpack. Plantsman Scott Ogden showed us this population of southern maidenhair fern growing along a small creek in a very alkaline soil. Our 5-year-old clump is 1' tall x 2' wide and, as you can imagine, quite heat tolerant. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Not to be confused with the alien fighters of a similar name, Agapanthus 'Back in Black' is a new Lily-of-the-Nile from Holland's Piet Zonneveld. In late summer this 2005 introduction produces dark green flower scapes from the strap-like green foliage which age to black. The 2' tall flower scapes are topped with flower heads of very dark blue-purple flowers...quite striking and a favorite of hummingbirds. This is patented as an Agapanthus africanus selection, but being an open pollinated seedling, this species assignment is highly suspect. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Agapanthus 'Bressingham Blue' is a 1972 introduction selected by the late plantsman Alan Bloom of the UK's Bressingham Gardens. Agapanthus 'Bressingham Blue' is a seedling selection from thousands of plants of the famous Headbourne hybrids. The clump of narrow, green, winter-deciduous leaves is topped, starting in late June (NC), with 30" stalks ending in 4.5" round flower heads of dark blue-violet flowers. Agapanthus 'Bressingham Blue' has been a vigorous, outstanding cultivar in our trials. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
(Patent 7303 expired) From California's Archie Amate comes this 1990 introduction, a phenomenally vigorous evergreen (in mild climates) Lily-of-the-Nile that makes a fast-growing 3' tall clump of green strap-like leaves, topped in midsummer with hummingbird-attracting dark blue-violet (RHS 93A), 8" wide flower heads on 50" tall stems. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
(Patent 7297 expired) Agapanthus 'Ellamae'...now there's a plant with a good southern name! From California's Archie Amate comes this 1990 introduction, a monstrous and vigorous lily-of-the-Nile that makes a large clump of green strap-like leaves, topped in midsummer with dark blue-violet umbels of flowers on Jack and the Beanstalk-like 66" tall stems...butterflies not included. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
This fully deciduous South African agapanthus species can be found in open meadows in the Drakensberg and surrounding mountain ranges. The clumps of strap-like green leaves are topped in July with 2' tall spikes of dark purple-black pendulous flowers in July...a very nice lily-of-the-Nile selection that is also a favorite hummingbird flower. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Agapanthus 'Stevie's Wonder' is an introduction from California's Emerissa Gardens that I picked up on a West Coast swing many years ago...as much for the name as anything else. Over the years, this has been the star in our agapanthus trials, both for winter hardiness, deer-resistance, and outstanding flowering. The 2.5' to 3' tall (over 6' tall in the Pacific Northwest) spikes are topped with 4" ball-shaped heads composed of rich blue-violet, hummingbird-attracting flowers. I think you will find Agapanthus 'Stevie's Wonder' a superb garden-worthy clone, sure to be the sunshine of your life. We'll get yours on the way...signed, sealed, delivered. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Thanks to Barrie Coate for setting us straight on the origin of this great agapanthus. When Barrie was director of the Saratoga Horticultural Foundation, he selected this gem from thousands of open pollinated seedlings of the deciduous Agapanthus 'Mood Indigo'. The resulting evergreen selection (only to 28 degrees F) is a dynamite lily-of-the-Nile with the typical strap-like foliage to 24" tall. Through late summer, the huge clumps of Agapanthus 'Storm Cloud' foliage are topped with giant, magnificent, hummingbird-friendly flower heads of bluish-purple on very sturdy stalks to 4' tall...WOW! Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
From Kees de Jong of Holland comes an amazing agapanthus that appeared in his cut flower field of blue Agapanthus africanus. The deciduous (evergreen in mild climates), 1.5" wide green foliage makes a 2' wide clump, topped in midsummer with 30" stalks of huge 10" flower heads of up to 80 pure white flowers...a hummingbird favorite. It took Barry Bonds years of steroid use to get a head this large...Agapanthus 'White Heaven' has consistently tested clean. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
We purchased this lovely form of Agave americana in 2005 from a grower in Thailand, but unfortunately it came without a valid cultivar name, so we've named it Agave americana 'Marshmallow Cream'. Agave 'Marshmallow Cream' has a much wider and shorter leaf than the typical Agave americana 'Marginata', which is more common in the trade. Agave americana 'Marshmallow Cream' also makes a much more elegant plant in the ground as well as in a container. Since it isn't winter hardy for us, we can only guess about a mature size, but we would expect 5' tall x 8' wide. Quantities are very limited. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
This beautiful, but slowly offsetting selection of the Mexican Agave americana makes a 2' tall x 3' wide clump, with each wide blue leaf highlighted with a wide central stripe of white. Agave americana 'Mediopicta Alba' is often used as a specimen container plant by gardeners in colder zones. Because of the leaf layer arrangement, Agave americana 'Mediopicta Alba' is one of the few variegated agave that cannot be successfully tissue cultured. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
I was fortunate to see this amazing, un-agave-looking agave in the wild near Monterrey, Mexico, where it precariously hangs off lightly shaded, high cliffs. Eventually spreading to 2' wide, the easy-to-grow, user-friendly Agave bracteosa resembles large, gray-green spiders with NO spines. We recommend that Agave bracteosa be planted on a slight slope to duplicate the great drainage they receive in the wild. After 2-4 years, Agave bracteosa will begin to form offsets and, when they mature, each clump will produce an amazing 5-7' tall flower spike that resembles a giant yellow bottlebrush! Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
It was lust at first sight when I saw Agave bracteosa 'Monterrey Frost' in California's San Diego Botanic Garden. This rare form of the northern Mexican Agave bracteosa has been passed along in California collectors' circles for more than a decade, but is rarely available to the general public. The frozen squid-like architectural rosette of sandpapery green foliage is edged with a perfect creamy-white margin, eventually producing a 1' tall x 18" wide variegated specimen that will offset sporadically after it matures. Agave bracteosa actually enjoys part shade, which also keeps the white edge from scorching. The white edge reduces its winter-hardiness, so where this isn't reliably hardy, Agave 'Monterrey Frost' makes a stunning unarmed container specimen. With great age, your Agave 'Monterrey Frost' will flower with lovely fragrant yellow blooms that attract hummingbirds. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
We haven't been able to track down the origin of this splendid hardy century plant, but we now feel confident that it is a hybrid with Agave salmiana. Our seven-year-old patch has produced 2' tall x 3.5' wide rosettes that offset quite fast. The 9" wide, flat, blue-green, deeply-lobed leaves are particularly architectural. Because of the somewhat scabrous leaf back, we wonder if Agave scabra might be the baby daddy, but then Agave cupreata looks like a candidate also. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Available 6-6-2013Agave 'Desert Diamond' is the latest Hans Hansen introduction...a wide edged sport of Agave 'Kissho Kan'. Compared to its parent, Agave 'Desert Diamond' is slightly slower growing due to the extra white in the leaf, but will eventually make a 15" tall x 18" wide, sparsely offsetting variegated rosette. Agave 'Desert Diamond' is a stunning plant, especially in a container for the summer patio. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
This stunning selection of the tropical Agave desmettiana comes from Joe Hoak of Hoak's Nursery in south Florida. Agave 'Joe Hoak' makes a stunning specimen plant with wide, pliable, glaucous grey leaves, each bordered in creamy white, which is in turn surrounded by a dark green edge. Many people consider this the most striking agave cultivar in commerce. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)
Agave flexispina is a rarely grown agave, related to Agave palmeri and Agave shrevei, that struck my fancy when visiting the Ruth Bancroft Garden in California. Hailing from 4,500' to 7,500' in the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Durango and Zacatecas, Agave flexispina has shown great winter hardiness in our trials. The powder blue leaves with long red spines form rosettes that are often solitary but will offset occasionally once established. In cultivation, expect the clumps to reach 18" tall x 3' wide. Carl Schoenfeld tells us that in west Texas, Agave flexispina was unblemished down to 0 degrees F, so we think this gem holds great promise for garden use in warm temperate climates. Pot Size: 3.5" (24 fl. oz/709.77 ml)