What to Plant in an Inner City Concrete Jungle

Like humans, plants face a whole range of additional stresses when trying to survive in a city environment, than they would in non city areas.

What makes plant growing difficult in inner city areas:

  • A city generates huge amounts of heat. This can effect the local environment considerably. In particular in summer months plants may  suffer heat stress.
  • Pollution of air, water and soil as a result of industrial processes, domestic wastes, automobile use, etc. can seriously damage or even kill plants (eg: acid rain, leaking natural gas lines).
  • Space restrictions often limit the types of plants you can grow, for example overhead power lines create height restrictions and footpaths mean there needs to be a width limit on nature strip plantings.
  • Large areas of hard covered surfaces, such as roads, footpaths, buildings, etc. reduces the amount of area available for rainwater to penetrate into the soil thereby affecting soil moisture levels.
  • The construction of buildings will often seriously reduce the amount of light that plants receive.
  • Air conditioning will often produce unsuitable conditions for plant growth, for example fumes from gas heaters or very dry, hot air.
  • Physical damage due to machinery, vandals, animals, etc. is generally much higher in city areas compared with elsewhere.

Consider first - is the plant going to tolerate inner city conditions. There's no point in planting something that will only struggle.
Just as important though -consider the location, and only use a plant that suits the situation. Some plants recommended here will thrive in the harsh inner city conditions; but can also be large and vigorous; and may damage pavements, pipes, buildings etc, if planted in situations where they don't have adequate room to grow.

 

Plants that may Tolerate Inner City Habitats

Trees with Some Resistance to Inner City Conditions

  • Acacia floribunda
  • Acacia longifolia
  • Acacia pycnantha
  • Acer pseudoplatanus
  • Allocasuarina (many varieties)
  • Crataegus
  • Eucalyptus ficifolia
  • Eucalyptus globulus compacta
  • Eucalyptus ovata
  • Eucalyptus torquata
  • Ficus macrophylla
  • Fraxinus
  • Gleditsia
  • Liquidambar
  • Melaleuca stypheloides
  • Platanus
  • Populus
  • Prunus
  • Pyrus
  • Quercus
  • Robinia
  • Salix

Shrubs with Some Resistance to Inner City Conditions

  • Berberis
  • Buddleia davidii
  • Buxus sempervirens
  • Casuarina distyla
  • Chaenomeles japonica
  • Cotoneaster
  • Cytisus
  • Eleagnus
  • Escallonia
  • Euonymus
  • Genista
  • Hakea suaveolens
  • Hibiscus syriacus
  • Hydrangea
  • Hypericum
  • Leptospermum scoparium
  • Ligustrum
  • Lonicera nitida
  • Melaleuca armillaris
  • Melaleuca decussata
  • Nerium oleander
  • Pyracantha sp.
  • Spiraea
  • Tamarix
  • Viburnum
  • Weigelia