UNIVERSITY PARK, PA -- Growing plants on rooftops is an old concept that has evolved from simple sod roofing to roof gardens and new, lightweight "extensive green roofs". Modern green roofs have environmental and social benefits; they can reduce stormwater runoff, improve air quality, mitigate urban heat, reduce the demand for air conditioning and greenhouse gas emissions, and provide habitat for birds and wildlife. Long-used in urban planning in Europe, green roofs are becoming more popular in North America, and new research designed to promote the integration of green roofs into current and future buildings is burgeoning. Researchers from the Department of Horticulture at The Pennsylvania State University published a study in HortTechnology that evaluated the influence of substrate type and depth on establishment of five common green roof plants.
Plants suitable for extensive green roofs must tolerate extreme rooftop conditions, and the substrates in which they grow must meet both horticultural and structural requirements. Deeper substrates may retain more water for plants during dry periods, but they also weigh more, especially when near saturation. The study by Christine E. Thuring, Robert D. Berghage, and David J. Beattie was designed to evaluate the effects of substrate type and depth on the establishment and early growth of five plants popular in North American green roof designs.
The researchers hypothesized that early drought is more harmful for plants grown in shallow rather than deeper substrate depths, and that plants that survived early drought conditions would produce less shoot biomass than those subjected to late drought. Two stonecrops, one ice plant, and two herbaceous perennials were planted in three depths (30, 60, and 120 mm) of expanded shale and expanded clay, two commercially available green roof substrates. Study flats inside a plasticulture tunnel received three drought treatments: no drought, 2 weeks early dr
|Contact: Michael W. Neff|
American Society for Horticultural Science