Although numerous examples of green roofs can be found in Turkey, limited research has been conducted on plant material and substrate type in this climate. Both plants and substrate are very important components in green roof design, it is essential to determine the proper substrates and plants in green roof systems for domestic green roof design. Two types of growing substrates: a commercial substrate consisting of crushed brick and clay (45%), pumice (45%), and organic matter (10%), and a recycled substrate including 90% coarse pumice (10–20 mm) and municipal compost (10%), were tested in three depths of 4, 7 and 10 cm. Tested plant species included Achillea millefolium, Armeria maritima, Sedum acre and Sedum album. Overall, the commercial substrate performed better than the recycled pumice. In addition, deeper substrates promoted greater survival and growth for nearly all species tested. Either A. maritima or A. millefolium survived in the recycled pumice at any depth, whereas they did survive when grown in the commercial substrate in greater than 7 cm and 10 cm, respectively. They both likely would require supplemental irrigation to be acceptable for green roofs in Istanbul or locations with a similar climate. Both Sedum species survived in all substrate types and depths. Information gained can be utilized by green roof professionals in the Istanbul region and in other parts of the world with a similar climate.