The glandular balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is also known under the names Indian or red balsam or even Emscher or Wupper orchid. The plant got the nickname orchid from its orchid-like flowers. Emscher and Wupper are the two rivers where the plant first appeared. The Himalayan balsam originally comes from the area around and from India and came to Europe as an ornamental plant. You have to give this Balsam a credit for its appearance. It only has one downside. It spreads wildly and then even becomes a threat to other plants.
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The Himalayan Balsam is an annual and still reaches a height of up to two meters, especially with sufficient water supply. Because of its high water requirement, it also prefers to grow naturally on river and lake banks. The flowers can appear white, pink, or crimson. All of them have a strong, sweet smell and hang down like grapes. Flowering balsam is quite attractive and another plus point is the long flowering period, from June to October, usually until the first frost. So you could have a lot of fun with this plant if it weren’t for the fact that the seed pods, when they are ripe, shoot their seeds far into the area at the slightest pressure. In this way, these seeds are widely distributed and in the next year little plants will sprout everywhere.
Annual plants can also cause erosion on slopes. It doesn’t help that the balsam is a great pasture for bumblebees and bees. Even that has recently been questioned. The yield is low. Hardly any honey is obtained from In any case, vegetation that is appropriate to the site will be displaced and the natural bank reinforcement will be lost. When the remains of the Himalayan Balsam die off at the end of autumn, the area is bare. All other plants are dead. Even stinging nettles and stubborn weeds are flattened.
Combating Himalayan Balsam
As beautiful as the plant is, it is a real nuisance. Better not to get them in the first place. Getting rid of them is time-consuming and labor-intensive. The most important thing when it comes to control is to eradicate the plants before seed maturity. Otherwise there will be more and more.
Prevention is always better than cure. This also applies to the Himalayan Balsam. Man is often to blame for the fact that plants continue to spread in nature. They don’t just sow themselves in the garden. The seeds spread particularly through rivers. Somewhere a seed sprouts and by the next year there are thousands. There are a few things you can do as a plant and nature lover to prevent an invasion.
- Do not plant Himalayan Balsam near water!
- Do not spread garden waste outdoors.
- No sowing outdoors!
- Check the garden and the surrounding area again and again to see whether plants are developing anywhere.
- Inform neighbors, friends, colleagues. Many do not know anything about this plant, do not know it or its widespread spread.
Clearing before seed ripening is very effective. All plants must be uprooted. Since Balsam only develops small roots, this is not difficult and is still easier than cutting off all the stems just above the ground. However, this method only makes sense where the plant has only settled this year, or where you have planted such a specimen yourself. Uprooting only makes sense if large stocks have not yet formed and there is no threat of displacement of native plants. Large crops can be mowed or sensed in good time. The main thing is that the seeds do not ripen. When scything, make sure that the plants are cut off as deeply as possible.
The uprooted or mown plants should not be left lying around. Rerooting can occur at the shoot nodes.
If seeds are already attached to the plant, they must be carefully cut off before tearing them out. It is best to hold a bucket or a bag underneath. Yes, do not touch, because the slightest touch will burst the seed pods and the seeds will bounce off in all directions.
- Under no circumstances should you leave the cut or mown parts of the plant lying around. In humid conditions, new roots can form at each stem node and then the plant will regrow.
- Despite the removal of the plants, this area has to be controlled for another four years. The seed stock in the soil remains germinable for five years.
- The clearing has to be repeated in the following years until no more seeds sprout.
Limit or stop nutrient supply
If Himalayan Balsam grows near a body of water, care must be taken to greatly reduce the nutrient load in it. Fertilizers must never get into the water. Thus, the Himalayan balsam is displaced within a few years. It needs a lot of nutrients. First, of course, it flattens all the other plants by depriving them of their nutrients, but then it doesn’t have any more itself and the plants gradually die.
This usually doesn’t work at other locations.
Hardly any chemical pesticides are permitted, especially not for private use in home gardens. You also have to be very careful with herbicides. It is particularly dangerous to use such agents near water. Nothing should get into the water. It is also not necessary to use chemistry against Himalayan Balsam. Uprooting is much more environmentally friendly and if you do it before the seed ripens, i.e. immediately after flowering, then this measure is also sufficient.
If you really want to get rid of the balsam, don’t wait until it flowers. As soon as the plant is recognizable as such, get out of the ground and burn or dispose of in the residual waste. Everything else is wasted love’s effort. It is important that the neighbors participate in the fight. Everyone has to pull together, otherwise you will never get rid of the plant and it will keep spreading. These control measures have to be carried out for up to five or even six years, and then it should come to an end. If you have your garden on a stream or a small river, you have to expect that the water will wash up new seeds again and again. Here you always have to keep an eye out for the Himalayan Balsam.