What plants would do well in our new rooftop garden?


We’re in the process of building our new net zero home and we have a rooftop garden that will be roughly 14×13 and about 6-8 inches of soil mixed with some raised beds. We were wondering what kind of options we might have for plants that would do well in a well drained, part sun environment in the 6-8” depth of soil, that would be low maintenance?


Liz Stanley, Horticulture Community Education Assistant, Knox-Lincoln Counties

Thank you for your message about your new rooftop garden.

If you are creating a “green roof” as a perennial landscape, The Chicago Botanic Garden did a large study with different plants in 2015. This PDF is chock full of information, and their climate is similar to ours: 5-5b. Some of the plants are natives (grasses sedges, prairie flowers), others are non-natives like succulents.

If you plan on growing vegetables or annual flowers in raised beds that are placed on your roof, they typically need full sun, regular watering and other care. There also has to be space around the raised beds to do the maintenance. We have more information about gardening in small spaces on our Garden and Yard website.

For green roofs and raised beds, it might be good to test the soil. You’ll get a reading on nutrients, organic matter, and the pH. Kits are available at our county offices, or we’re happy to mail one to you.

I hope this is helpful and good luck with your new home.