Fed up with urban smog? 5 pollution-resistant plants to help you breathe

The government is proposing to fund the planting of millions of trees to boost housing prices in cities, to improve green spaces and help preserve the environment, gardeners can also do their bit by planting pollution-resistant plants.

David Mitchell, buying manager for horticulture at Wyevale Garden Centres, says: “Plants do have a hard time with pollution. Since the leaves need to ‘breathe’, anything that limits that exchange, such as airborne gasses or if the pores are blocked by dust and grime, will limit their potential.

“Fruit trees in particular can struggle and yields can be as low as half of what they would be in cleaner air.”

Here are five of his favourite pollution-tolerant plants and how to care for them…

1. Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’

Pyrus calleryana, the ornamental pear, does well in cities (Thinkstock/PA)
Pyrus calleryana, the ornamental pear, does well in cities (Thinkstock/PA)

This ornamental pear is an exceptionally good tree for small urban gardens, with its upright, narrow shape and branches that are smothered with white blossom early in spring (April to May).

The leaves turn a vibrant red and purple in the autumn before falling and some years, the tree will produce small inedible brown fruits. It does best in moist but well drained soil (clay, sand or loam) and in full sun.

2. Buddleia

The buddleia attracts butterflies (Thinkstock/PA)
The buddleia attracts butterflies (Thinkstock/PA)

Known as the butterfly bush, Buddleia produces clusters of deep scented flowers from midsummer into autumn. Rich in nectar, this fast-growing, hardy deciduous shrub attracts butterflies, bees and other insects, and thrives in any well-drained soil (chalk, loam or sand).

3. Camellia

The camellia is pretty as well as tough (Thinkstock/PA)
The camellia is pretty as well as tough (Thinkstock/PA)

Producing rich, colourful flowers with ruffled petals and golden stamens in late winter into spring (February to April), which are offset by glossy evergreen leaves, the camellia proves that beautiful plants can also be tolerant to pollution.

Plant in light shade, in shelter, and in moist but well-drained, humus-rich, lime-free soil (loam) or in a container, in ericaceous (lime-free) compost.

4. Buxus sempervirens

Box hedging can provide a screen against urban pollution (Thinkstock/PA)
Box hedging can provide a screen against urban pollution (Thinkstock/PA)

This classic British native evergreen is ideal for low hedging, boundaries or divisions in formal gardens in both modern and traditional settings.

It responds well to being trimmed and thrives in the shade, and most well-drained soils (chalk, loam or sand). It’s excellent for growing in containers, as topiary and for training as feature plants.

5. Berberis

Berberis comes into its own in autumn (Thinkstock/PA)
Berberis comes into its own in autumn (Thinkstock/PA)

This easy-to-grow barberry has spiny shoots and simple leaves. Soft yellow or orange flowers appear in spring (April to May) and are followed by small berries in the autumn. This deciduous or evergreen shrub will succeed in a wide range of conditions. Plant in full sun or partial shade in well-drained humus-rich soil (chalk, loam or sand), although it will be tolerant of most soils as long as they are reasonably well-drained.

- Press Association

More on this topic

Peter Dowdall shares his top 4 flower picks to add a splash of summer colour to your garden

How nature can work wonders for body and soul

Cork offers inspiration for gardeners throughout the week

Pop-up gardens show off the best of the Ancient East

More in this Section

Cork media go head to head in triathlon relay

Capturing the castle: Johnstown Castle in County Wexford is well worth checking out

How nature can work wonders for body and soul

Making Cents: Consumer guide to entering PcP car loan contracts


Latest Showbiz

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul tease Breaking Bad film with matching posts

Daniel Craig prowls round Jamaica in first look at Bond 25

ITV boss defends email on ‘protecting’ Jeremy Kyle show

Tensions run high in Love Island villa as contestants split over Yewande’s exit

More From The Irish Examiner