While a survey of 2,056 people for the RHS found that a third (33%) were affected by air pollution, just 6% are taking active steps in their gardens to alleviate it.
Of those surveyed by YouGov, 86% said they cared about environmental issues, while 78% worried about climate change, and the RHS is hoping to harness that interest to encourage people to think about helping the environment in their garden.
Prof Alistair Griffiths, RHS director of science and collections, said: “We are continually identifying new ‘super plants’ with unique qualities which when combined with other vegetation provide enhanced benefits while providing much needed habitats for wildlife.
“We’ve found, for example, that ivy wall cover excels at cooling buildings, and hawthorn and privet help ease intense summer rainfalls and reduce localised flooding. If planted in gardens and green spaces where these environmental issues are most prevalent, we could make a big difference in the fight against climate change.”
RHS scientists are now moving into the Hilltop centre, at the charity’s gardens at Wisley in Surrey, which has facilities that will allow them to increase research into these areas, as well as exhibition spaces and “living laboratory” gardens.