New research to study native plants for green roof planning across Canada

New research sponsored by the Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Alliance (COHA) at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) and Nova Scotia Agricultural College will assess plant diversity and survival issues for green roofs.

“Multi-year survivability has been an on-going issue for green roof habitats in Canada. With this research we are particularly interested in moving away from the more common plantings dominated by Sedum species to a broader selection of native plants that demonstrate sun, wind, cold, and drought tolerance,” said Dr. Rumen Conev, Vineland’s Research Scientist, Ornamental Plant Breeding.

With over 20 new native species being studied, a green solution to making Canadian buildings more energy efficient could be right under our feet.

The environmental benefits of green roofs are already well-documented; significant reductions in building heating and cooling costs, storm water runoff management, and natural habitat creation. However, lack of research into planting options and managing green roof health in Canadian climatic conditions has been a barrier to uptake.

“Canadian cities are lagging behind in North American green roof rankings,” said Andy Kuyvenhoven, president, Kuyvenhoven Greenhouses Inc. and president of COHA. “Growers and nurseries have a suite of native plants that we believe can do the job. This research will confirm the best choices from dozens of species that are already highly adapted to and can help resolve the issues of the Canadian conditions.”

“As a grower I am interested in understanding how best to start plants in the nursery to ensure successful transition to a green roof habitat,” said Bill Stensson, president, Sheridan Nurseries Ltd. “Our industry wants to see a green roof explosion in this country with planting materials that can survive for 50 years, not one or two.”

Funding for this research was received in part from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s agri-science cluster initiative. Vineland’s green roof research initiative will be on display at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in the heart of Niagara’s horticultural zone.

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