Poor air quality in cities – which has to do with traffic, lack of green spaces, and paved gardens – can be very detrimental to our health.
Here the RHS experts recommend Dr. Tijana Blanusa and Leigh Hunt “super plants” that could help soak up some of this pollution …
Hedges are excellent at filtering air pollution and trapping them by their rough / hairy leaves and stems until they are washed to the ground by the rain or fall off with the leaves. One of the top plants is Cotoneaster franchetii, which is at least 20 percent more effective against pollution than other shrubs.
It’s not your typical hedge plant, but when put in shape, it’s a top performer. Other options include Thuja plicata (western red cedar) and Taxus baccata (yew tree). Plant between the source of pollution and where you are – usually between the street and the house. Bigger is better, so aim for a height of at least 1.5 m and a width of at least 1 m.
Containers are useful for growing all types of plants on pavement and balcony areas. If you rent, you can take them with you when you move. Include plants to support wildlife, from pollinating insects to invertebrates.
Even an ordinary climber like ivy (Hedera-Helix), which can be trained from a pot on a house wall to create a green surface, provides shelter, nectar and berries. It is also crucial in helping with CO2 capture and dehumidification and, if raised by the side of a building, can help with internal temperature regulation.
Otherwise, try anything from the list of RHS Plants for Pollinators (rhs.org.uk) that will fit in your containers.
If you have room for a tree (great air purifiers), plant one. Our native hawthorn is a big little tree. In addition to showy white flowers in late spring, there are fruits (haws) in autumn. Not only is it a great plant for wildlife, but it can also help where flooding is a problem. The leaves and stems in the canopy catch the rain and slow down the passage to the ground.
And this tree also splashes water from its leaves, helping to suck excess moisture out of the soil as it grows. One shrub that can help is the cheerful yellow-flowered forsythia.