Himalayan balsam removal

Not sure how to get rid of Himalayan balsam? As the UK’s leading invasive plant removal company, we’re here to help with advice and cost-effective Himalayan balsam removal & treatment methods for residential and commercial sites

Himalayan Balsam growing in the wild

What do the specialists think?

According to the NNSS (GB Non-native species secretariat), the negative impact of Himalayan balsam isn’t negligible: “Having become dominant in its invaded habitat, the shallow root system can promote erosion during the annual cycle through dieback and subsequent destruction of bankside structure. Dense stands can impede water flow at times of high rainfall, thereby increasing the likelihood of flooding.”

Why is Himalayan balsam so hard to control and eradicate?

Himalayan balsam is a non-native invasive terrestrial plant species. The species is particularly frequent along the banks of watercourses, where it often forms continuous stands. Individual plants reach 2m in height, have translucent fleshy stems, pink-purple slipper-shaped flowers and large oval pointed leaves. Plants produce large numbers of flowers which are followed by ‘seed pods’ about 25mm long. When mature and dry, they split open explosively, dispersing the seeds a considerable distance from the parent plant. Each plant can produce about 2,500 seeds which fall to the ground, and with several parent plants close together, seeds can occur at a density of between 5000-6000 seeds per square metre, with plants quickly outcompeting the native flora. The seeds also float, making watercourses a prime route for dispersal of the species.

The fact that seeds are easily transported along watercourses makes control of the species particularly difficult. This is because although a landowner may be controlling plants on their property, if the same doesn’t happen upstream then recontamination of the site is almost inevitable. Seeds can remain viable for 18 months, so a three-year herbicide treatment programme is usually required as a minimum starting point to control the established plants on the site, with annual monitoring following on from that.

If you’re tempted to treat it yourself, consider these points:

  • Most people attempting a DIY solution will fail, because they lack the thorough approach required for success.
  • Application of herbicides next to water requires permission from the Environment Agency, and you must be suitably qualified to do so.
  • Damage to other prized plants may be caused by poor herbicide application.
  • Once removed, you will also need to understand how to dispose of Himalayan Balsam, as it is considered controlled waste, with a disposal process in accordance with the law.
Himalayan Balsam growing near a river
Himalayan Balsam growing on site

Use our extensive guide to identify Himalayan Balsam

What does Himalayan balsam look like?

Close up on Himalayan Balsam leaves

What are the options for the control or removal of Himalayan balsam?

  • Pulling – This method is suited only to small or sporadic infestations and is particularly useful where the habitat is vulnerable or of special scientific interest. Individual plants are hand-pulled from the ground just before flowering in spring / early summer. They are then removed from site to be disposed of as controlled waste in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
  • Herbicide Treatment – For large stands, a two-year herbicide treatment programme can be used.
  • Cutting – It is possible to cut back Himalayan to just above ground level before it flowers, which prevents flowering and seeds forming. As Himalayan Balsam is an annual plant, it will not grow back from the roots the following year.

Each method needs to be carried out for a minimum of two growing seasons to ensure all viable seeds have germinated and can be tackled. In situations where balsam is present upstream from the affected land, an annual monitoring programme is recommended to ensure the population does not re-establish from reintroduced seeds that have floated downstream.

In most cases, due to its highly invasive nature, the best way to fully get rid of Himalayan balsam is to call an experienced removal company, which specialises in the treatment and removal of invasive plants such as balsam.

With 25 years’ experience in the industry, Environet is the UK’s leading invasive plant removal company. During this time, we’ve been dealing with some of the UK’s most common non-native invasive plants including Japanese knotweed, Bamboo, Giant hogweed and, of course, Himalayan balsam.

For more information, contact our experienced teams today.

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We have robust systems in place for Environmental and Health & Safety management. Risk assessments are carried out for every aspect of our business to identify situations where harm could be caused. We have an ethos of continuous improvement to eliminate or reduce the risks with detailed working procedures, on-going training and monitoring.

All our staff have health and safety and emergency first aid training. We are also accredited by CHAS and Constructionline and are members of the Property Care Association (PCA).


Our team of experts is available between 9am and 5:30pm, Monday to Friday to answer your enquiries and advise you on the next steps

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Simply upload a few images of your problem plant to our identification form and one of our invasive plant experts will take a look and let you know, free of charge what you are dealing with. We’ll also be there to help with next steps where necessary. 

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