Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - July 04, 2012

From: lynnwood, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Planting, Propagation, Green Roofs, Groundcovers, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Kinnikinnick for a green roof
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I live just north of Seattle and want to build a green roof (outdoor kitchen) I'm concerned about the weight of the soil (saturated), drainage etc. am building from scratch and am a building official so can calc the loads. - tons! so (don't try this at home kids) - I don't like the weedy look of sedums so was thinking about Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (L.) Spreng. Kinnikinnick and need to know what depth of soil, if it might really grow on the warm windy roof - (it does rain here) - and maybe this plant could work.. thoughts?

ANSWER:

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick) is an obvious prospect for a green roof.  Attractive, tolerates water-logging and drought, and found throughout the Pacific Northwest.  The problem is that it grows slowly and is not easily transplanted.  If you are planning to grow it for yourself it would seem best to start with cuttings or seed.  This web site gives information on propagation from seed, stem cuttings and root cuttings.  The Woodland Park Zoo tested Kinnikinnick on a green roof in 2006.  They found that it survived but only on slopes of less than 15%.  At greater slopes their growth medium (6 inches in depth) did not retain water well enough to prevent root drying.  Some details are given in a Masters degree thesis.  The Kinnikinnick plants were young and perhaps had not established an extensive root system.  I advise you to call ( (206) 548-2520) or drive to the zoo and find out more recent information.  Kinnikinnick has also been used on the Vancouver, BC, library roof.

Because of the widespread interest in green roofs improved planting media are always appearing. I found numerous potentially useful web sites in a Google search for "Green roof growth media, Pacific Northwest.  Kinnikinnick plants are available in Seattle area nurseries, e.g.,  the Woodbrook Native Plant Nursery and probably at some of the ones on this list.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Milkweed species for Central Texas
February 11, 2015 - What milkweed should I plant in the flood plain behind my house on Brushy Creek.
view the full question and answer

Drought affecting native trees from The Woodlands
August 18, 2011 - I've been trying to grow native trees in my yard for the past 3 years and I'm starting to question whether the amount of time required to spend watering them during the long hot season in Texas is r...
view the full question and answer

Native plants both deer resistant and good for erosion from North Oaks MN
August 23, 2012 - We have several partially sunny areas on hills that are prone to both deer and erosion. Our goal is to reduce runoff in an effort to preserve the watershed that provides tap water to many citizens of ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Gregg's mistflower from Fredericksburg, TX
May 19, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: Something is wilting the tops of my Gregg's mistflower, Conoclinium greggii. I cannot see bugs on the plant, so I am wondering if it's a disease. The problem is widespread to...
view the full question and answer

Pruning pink skullcap and rock daisy from Austin
February 06, 2013 - I have some pink skullcap and rock daisy and other plants in my yard that never entirely die back over the winter. Can you tell me what kind of pruning is appropriate? How far can/should I cut them ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.