How to pull late season (flowering) Himalayan balsam

This video shows how to remove Himalayan balsam late in the season, in cases where it is flowering and been allowed to set seed.

The plant is popular with bee keepers as a late source of nectar, but advice from the British Beekeepers Association is it should only be kept in gardens and cut before it sets seed.

Tom Morgan from Wiltshire Wildlife Trust advises exactly how to remove the plant and prevent seed dispersal.

Video Transcript: How to pull late season (flowering) Himalayan balsam

We are here on the river Nadder just outside Salisbury with a rather impressive infestation of Himalayan balsam.

As you can see, himalayan balsam can achieve quite a height (3 m) allowing it to disperse its seed by exploding seed pods.

By growing to such a height and exploding it can disperse its seeds maybe 3-5 m from the original plant, which can cast into the river and carried on by the flow. Wherever  the water settles in slower areas or floods, new infestations will start.

It is quite late in the summer (August), so unfortunately the seed heads are very well developed and ripe. Potentially pulling up the plant will disturb the seed pods, causing them to be released into the river.

How to pull flowering Himalayan balsam:

  • remove himalayan balsam seed pods
  • collect the seeds in bags
  • dispose of them at a later date

It is just a simple process of being very careful with the plant and trying to pull it over and taking the seed heads off.

Once we have removed all of the seed heads from the whole plant we can just pull it up from the base and crush it up.

So as you can see for such a large plant, it has a very small root ball. This means it is really easy to pull up and great for a task for volunteers (involved in Himalayan picking parties).

Once you have pulled it up, snap it in half, where you get a really satisfying crunch. Crush it up a couple of times. Then we pile it up on the bank in discrete piles so they mulch.

It is important to crush them up and stick them in a pile where they have less chance of regrowing and mulch down into nothing as they are very almost celery-like at the bottom, and very high water content plants and mulch down very very quickly.