Trees: Choose smaller trees and little-leaf varieties, such as River Birches, Japanese maples, crabapples, weeping cherries or Lilac’s for that explosion of scent in Spring. Trees and other tall plants need to be planted well in pots so that they are anchored to the ground in heavy winds – the last thing you want to be doing is constantly picking up your trees – or worse still your neighbor picking up your trees !
Evergreens: Pines, junipers, and dwarf conifers of all kinds do well in these conditions.
Shrubs: Boxwoods, cotoneaster, hydrangeas, barberry, and yew are very tough.
Roses: Roses of all kinds — including climbing roses — will thrive in pots in a rooftop garden. If you have children try and avoid roses with nasty thorns !
Perennials: Try Hostas, Ferns, Astilbe, Daylilies, Lavender, Yarrow, Artemisia, and Russian sage. Smaller ornamental grasses add beautiful texture and height in all of the seasons . Sedums and Sempervirens are also great choices.
Annual flowers thrive in containers with other plants, or in pots on their own. Some good choices are: Zinnias, Pentas, Lantanas, Marigolds, Petunias, Torenias, and Impatiens. Annual vines, like Hyacenth Bean vine, passion flower, Mandevilla and morning glory, will grow rapidly and bloom through the fall.
Vines ; there really is no such thing as an evergreen vine in New York except for English Ivy and it does not look great through the winter months – but to hide a wall or a neighbor – a beautiful clematis or ivy usually will do the trick
Vegetables: Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, broccoli, and lettuce and greens are good candidates for pots. Herbs also thrive in containers. You could even grow strawberries and raspberries in big troughs in a rooftop garden.