Posts Tagged ‘best plant for roof garden’

Creating a Full-Sun Hanging Basket for Our Brooklyn Roof Garden

The hanging basket on our roof garden faces some big challenges. The hanging basket has to be able to withstand strong gusts of wind and direct, drying sunlight for most of the day. Last summer we went through three different hanging baskets. The lantana performed the best, so we knew we’d make lantna the center of this summer’s hanging basket.

I ordered the three plants from White Flower Farm for our hanging basket last night, working from the thriller, filler, spiller model.

For the thriller I chose Phlox intensia in white. We try to put white flowers in almost every pot, since white flowers are visible late into the night, when we often visit our roof garden. “Even when the heat made other plants start to flag, this Phlox performed admirably. Lovely in window boxes against a dark background,” say the pros at White Flower Farm.

I don’t think the Lantana is precisely a filler; last summer our Lantana was thrilling with the flowers blazing, unwilling in the sun and wind while attracting butterflies. Still, I am counting on the Lantan to fill up this pot all summer long; so let’s call it a filler. I’ve usually seen yellow Lantana, often called “ham and eggs”, sold locally. I decided to try something a bit less common – this purple and white Lantana montevidensis Lavender Swirl. Lantna is one of the best roof garden plants we’ve tried.

Finally, the spiller. Our hanging basket is hung high up on an air vent pole, so I wanted a spiller that would thrive in full sun and grow Rapunzel style to hide the ugly pole. I picked Dichondra argentea Silver Falls because it grows fast and it “[e]njoys sun and drought. Unique.” I don’t think portulaca would trail this long.

We’re planting this in a self-watering hanging basket.

What do you think? Will this hanging basket survive the summer on our roof?

Images: White Flower Farm

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Best Roof Garden Plant: Portulaca

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Our pansies are past their prime and the lantana languished in the heat . . . but our portulaca is still perfect.

Portulaca is low maintenance (no dead-heading required!) fast growing drought-tolerant annual. As fall approaches, the portulaca is still pumping out flowers so we’ve moved this container to a high visibility perch on our roof garden. See how the portulaca is taking on a burgundy tint with lots of small red flowers? The only down side of portulaca, also called moss rose, is that the flowers are not open in the evening.

Portulaca seems to be out of style? I don’t see it sold often and I don’t see it growing in other NYC gardens. I’m wondering why … maybe because it is related to the weed purslane?

Here’s more information about growing portulaca.

Best Roof Garden Plants: Miscanthus sinensis Cabaret

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Miscanthus sinensis Cabaret wins the most valuable player award in our Brooklyn roof garden. As first year roof gardeners, we didn’t want to sink a lot of money on trees. We were also worried that trees might be too heavy for the roof or need too much water.So we’re using this grass to play a tree like role.

This large pots of a tall grass anchor the corners of our garden space, similar to what a tree would do. Earlier this season the Miscanthus sinensis Cabaret grass was a gracious background for perennials and some sedum. Now it is anchoring the corner with our petunias and geraniums.

This Miscanthus sinensis Cabaret doesn’t mind being whipped around by the wind and it makes a great sound as it shimmies in the wind. It’s our version of a wind chime. Also, this variegated grass has been most tolerant of roof garden’s extreme weather: the super rainy June and steamy July days haven’t bothered this plant. A few blades get brown and we trim them out in a quick monthly haircut.

We bought this beachy grass at the Liberty Sunset Garden Center after hearing that it wouldn’t need too much water and  it is “great for containers.” It has more than doubled in height since we bought it and is now about five feet tall. It is supposed to “send up coppery pink flower plumes in fall.” Something to look forward to.

We’re planning to overwinter this plant right on the roof. Come spring, we’ll cut off last years growth and fertilize it. We haven’t decided if we’ll try to split it into two 16″ pots or leave it as is. We want to do all we can to make sure this grass is with us again next summer.

More on Miscanthus sinensis Cabaret:
Grasses With Attitude – This Old House

Best Roof Garden Plants: Sedum

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If you’re a first time roof gardener like me, I recommend trying some sedum. Sedum, also called stonecrop and sometimes mis-spelled as “sedom”, is a succulent — a chubby look plant that stores up water and can grow in hot spots with poor soil. You can see my sedum in the front left of this picture.

Sedums are great New York City plants because they don’t mind the intense heat. Most sedum should be able to manage a cold winter, stored right on the roof, and then come back strong in the spring.

White Flower Farm and Blue Stone Perennials sell a bunch of different sedums. I’m considering buying another one. Next year, I’d love to grow a mixed succulent container like this one.

We’re in the middle of a super rainy patch of weather here in Brooklyn. It is too much water for my sedums. Fine Gardening’s primer on creeping sedums explains: “While even the poorest soil can nourish sedums—and poor or little soil is actually their preferred medium—good drainage is the key to growing them. Too much moisture, especially standing water, will do what no drought can: It will quickly kill a sedum.”

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Its looking like at least three more rainy days this week, so we’re going to either bring the sedum inside or find a way to cover them. Plant umbrellas perhaps?

I’m considering re-potting our sedums in a different soil mix — with some sand and gravel — to create the dry well drained soil they enjoy.