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The Best Non-Chemical Methods to Get Rid of Himalayan Balsam


Hand removal is recommended and is straightforward because they are extremely shallow-rooted. You don’t need to dig these out, and you really shouldn’t anyway because the soil will be contaminated, giving you more waste to dispose of.

The ease these pull from the ground is a tell-tale sign that it is a balsam plant, because other weeds grip the ground. Balsam, you can tug them out and get all the roots up without a trowel.

The scientific name for this is ‘Impatiens Glandulifera’ and there is an ID sheet at to help identify this.

The right way to hand-pull Himalayan Balsam

1. Pull it out of the ground

Holding the plant as near to the base as possible, pull it up so that you get the roots out of the ground.

2. Snap the stem at every node

Every node on the Himalayan balsam can re-emerge. Once pulled, snap the stem below every node. This will prevent regrowth.

3. Pile them up

Place the snapped plants in a pile and stomp them into the ground to prevent them from blowing away. If there are flowers on any, place those in the middle of the pile so the seeds don’t spread.

A note on removing flowers: if the plant’s gone to flower, or has seed pods on it, touching the pod can release the seeds. That’s why ‘impatiens’ are sometimes called “touch-me-nots”.

To prevent the pods from springing open, dispersing seeds some distance, put a mesh bag or a paper cup over the pod, then gently pinch it so you can catch the seeds.


For larger areas that are overcrowded with Himalayan Balsam plants, a strimmer / weed whacker will get the job done.

Just like hand pulling though, they should be cut down before going to seed, otherwise, you’ll be dispersing seeds up to 7 meters away in any direction, leading to renewed growth, potentially miles away.

The problem you’ll have if you cut them is that they will come back, unless you snap every stem at every node, bury the cuttings, or incinerate the waste.

The closer you can cut these to the ground, the better. Aim to cut every stem from beneath the first node. Cutting above the first node will result in new growth that’s even more vigorous.

Similar to pruning plants, when you cut above the node, new growth emerges producing more blooms. Considering every flower dies back and produces seed pods, the next generation will be even more widespread.


himalayan balsam in may

Himalayan balsam in May

Using Sprays to Kill Himalayan Balsam

Any herbicides containing glyphosate will kill Himalayan Balsam, but as with all herbicides, the issue is drift. As careful as you are with the application, it can come into contact with other beneficial plants.

Glyphosate will kill everything it touches and is harmful to wildlife too. What’s more is that new plants will take longer to establish because of the chemicals in the soil.

Roundup Pro Vantage 480 is suitable, but not recommended because there’s really no need, unless it’s after June and hand pulling would result in seeds being spread farther.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if the growth is on a riverbank or watercourse, you can’t spray herbicides without the permission of the Environment Agency.

How Invasive Species Are Tackled in Local Communities

When there are swathes of Himalayan Balsam invading public spaces, local councils and groundwork companies arrange community events called “Balsam Bashing” days.

Council Ranger services advertise these on social media and the local press.

You usually have to book a ticket so they know how many people will be attending. often have multiple listings for these events happening around May and June.

Gloves are usually provided and instructions on how to remove the plants are given. June is the ideal time as that’s when the plants have a decent size to easily identify them and it’s right before they begin flowering.

Ecological Methods to Control Himalayan Balsam

If you own a farm or a field, Himalayan Balsam is perfectly fine for grazing. It’s not unusual to find rows of this growing in the countryside. It’s not poisonous to horses, cattle, pets, or humans. In fact, the seeds are edible.

Proper Disposal of Himalayan Balsam

Other than taking it to your local landfill, the two recommended methods of disposal is burning or burying Himalayan Balsam. The Environment Agency’s Regulatory Position Statement gives advice on disposal and possible permits that may be required.

The general gist is this:

If it’s in your garden, you can use a garden incinerator. If it’s in the open, you may need a D7 waste exemption for burning plant waste in the open.

For burying it, the guidance is:

  • To bury invasive plants to a minimum depth of 2 metres on the site it was growing.


  • “The burial site must be 7 metres away from an adjacent landowner’s site”.

Post Removal, Focus on Prevention

The seeds from Himalayan Balsam have a long shelf life. They can survive for up to two years.

If any seeds are in the soil, they can germinate causing the plant to re-emerge. That’s the point of burying it. Like any plant, starve them of sunlight, and they die.

The best practice post-removal is to monitor the area for reemergence over two to three years and treat it accordingly. That may be with a spray, or it could be by planting other noninvasive flowers or grasses.

The aim of controlling it is always to prevent it from flowering. Once it flowers, it goes to seed, and that’s when it gets invasive. When those pods mature, they explode with immense velocity.

The seeds can float too so they can be carried downstream in rivers, causing them to grow further down a riverbank.

Is the Himalayan Balsam classed as invasive?

removing himalayan balsamHimalayan Balsam is a non-native invasive species that’s now naturalised in Britain.

It was added to the list of invasive plant species in 2017.

When you see them, pull them, but you need to know how to get rid of them, prevent regrowth, and dispose of the waste responsibly because it is a controlled waste covered by The Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991 requiring either disposal at a licensed landfill site, or by other means such as burying it or burning it.

It is listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, so it is an offence to grow this or allow it to spread.

If it springs up in your garden, you’ll need to prevent it from spreading. The only way to do that is to get rid of it entirely.

Once discarded, the land ought to have other wildflowers or suitable grasses planted to protect against soil erosion.

Himalayan Balsam is Notifiable in the UK

Invasive species are notifiable. It’s how councils know which areas to target to keep on top of invasive plants in the wild.

Most council websites will have a submission page to collect information on plant sightings.

Failing that, you can find information on the NNSS for England and Wales.

In Scotland, reports can be submitted to the Scottish Invasive Species List.

In Northern Ireland, it’s the Centre for Environmental Data & Recording (CEDaR)

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