The Q&A Archives: Best plants to grow in containers on very hot hot hot roof

Question: I live in a 5 story condo building. We have a large roof patio area with a pool. We (the HOA board) want to grow some heat tolerant plants on the roof to give it a nice oasis feel but don't know what type of plants would survive on a very hot roof. We can water everyday (the plants will be planted in large containers), but the heat is very severe on the roof. Please advise. Thanks.

Answer: Gardening on a rooftop presents several challenges for plants. It gets hot and windy, and the heat can be reflected from any walls that might be there, plus the floor of the roof. Additionally, the roots of plants in containers on a rooftop can become overheated and end up baking in the summer sunshine. I'm not sure you can achieve a tropical look without providing some shade (arbors, trellises, etc.). If you would be uncomfortable standing on the rooftop all afternoon, tropical plants would be uncomfortable, too. Those plants adapted to desert growing would provide your best chance of success. Bougainvillea, Indian Laurel (Ficus), Nandina (heavenly bamboo), Bird-of-Paradise, pygmy date palms and Hibiscus all grow well in the desert southwest and should adapt to growing on a rooftop. Desert Coreopsis, dwarf Pomegranate, even citrus trees, might be good additions to your garden. While most won't look like a lush, tropical paradise, they will be green and add a new dimension to your pool area.

Hope this information helps you develop your rooftop patio.

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