Plant establishment on unirrigated green roof modules in a subtropical climate Academic Article uri icon


  • Background and aims The application of green roof technology has becomemore common in the central, northwestern and eastern USA, and is now being employed across the southern USA as well. However, there is little research in the literature that evaluated plant survival on unirrigated green roofs in subtropical climates that experience frequent drought and heat stress. Here,we summarize the results of a study of plant establishment on a modular green roof in south-central Texas. Methodology Fifteen plant species were field tested in 11.4-cm-deep green roof modules on a four-storey building in College Station, Texas, with irrigation limited to the first several weeks of establishment. Climate data, plant growth and species survival were measured over three growing seasons. Principal results Four species survived growing seasons without any losses: Graptopetalum paraguayense, Malephora lutea, Manfreda maculosa and Phemeranthus calycinus. Six species experienced varying levels of mortality: Bulbine frutescens, Delosperma cooperi, Lampranthus spectabilis, Sedum kamtschaticum, Sedum mexicanum and Nassella tenuissima. Five species had no survivors: Dichondra argentea, Stemodia lanata, Myoporum parvifolium, Sedum moranense and Sedum tetractinum. Conclusions The establishment and survival of several plant species without any mortality suggests that irrigation limited to the first few weeks after planting may be an effective approach on green roofs in spite of the more challenging climatic conditions in the southern USA. Since the climate in south-central Texas had been consistently drier and warmer than normal during the study period, longer-term research on these species is recommended to expand knowledge of establishment requirements for these species under a wider range of conditions, including wetter than normal years. The Authors 2012.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 2.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Dvorak, B. D., & Volder, A.

citation count

  • 31

complete list of authors

  • Dvorak, Bruce D||Volder, Astrid

publication date

  • February 2013