Living wall and green roof plants for Australia

The University of Queensland

  • Project code: PRJ-005130

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Thursday, September 30, 2010

  • Project completion date: Wednesday, November 30, 2011

  • National Priority: NEPI-RD&E to generate benefit across several plant industries


Living walls and extensive green roofs are new to Australia. They offer important environmental, economic and social benefits, including reductions in air conditioning needs that contribute markedly to greenhouse gas pollution. Living walls are vertical structures with plants either rooted within the structure itself or which have the ability to survive independently. Extensive green roofs involve plants being grown in a thin (≤10 cm) layer of growing medium, typically over large areas and with limited maintenance. In both cases, exposure to high wind velocities and intense solar radiation, combined with limited rooting volumes, necessitate use of plants that are extraordinarily heat and drought tolerant. With a focus on these two applications and with a view to future selection and breeding, this scoping project will review current knowledge on plant species selection and performance, including both ornamental and productive species, with an emphasis on Australian natives. Region specific plant improvement selection matrices for both applications will be developed. Also, a high profile living wall of selected test species will be established in collaboration with Marsupial Landscape Management to generate proof-of-concept data and increase awareness among stakeholders, including the general public. Outcomes will be showcased at a workshop on selection and breeding of improved green roof species for Australia hosted by Aussie Colours for the lifestyle horticulture industry. The project will enhance efforts of not-for-profit Green Roofs Australia Inc. and likeminded organisations and individuals to see new and improved hardy plants developed for extensive green roofs and living walls applications in Australia.


New and Emerging Plant Industries

Research Organisation

The University of Queensland

Objective Summary

1. Review existing knowledge of plant selection and performance for extensive green roofs and living walls.
2. Develop regionally specific plant species selection matrices for extensive green roofs and living walls in Australia.
3. Use selection matrix criteria to generate lists of plant species, including ornamental and productive natives, putatively suited to regions and applications.
4. Construct and evaluate a proof-of-concept demonstration living wall.
5. Communicate outcomes with key stakeholders via an application focused plant improvement workshop.