Join the RHS today and support our charitable work
Free personalised gardening advice
RHS members get reduced ticket prices
RHS members get free access to RHS Gardens
Free entry to RHS members at selected times »
Reduced prices on RHS Garden courses and workshops
020 3176 5800
Mon – Fri | 9am – 5pm
Help us achieve our goals
Join the RHS today and support our charity
I have forgotten my password
Register for free to receive our newsletters, add comments to blogs/articles and to save content.
See what events are on near you and browse your bookmarked pages.
The tall, pretty pink flower spikes of rosebay willowherb (Chamaenerion angustifolium) are a common sight on railway banks and disturbed woodland. It is a useful nectar source for pollinators but self-seeds readily making it a troublesome garden weed.
A native perennial weed which spreads by seed and rhizomes (underground stems) and is unsuitable in a small garden. It is found growing on waste land, scrub, rocks, woodland and also gardens where it can become a serious weed.
A white cultivar Chamaenerion angustifolium ‘Alba’ is available as a garden plant and shows less invasive tendencies than the pink form.
Height to 1.5m (5ft) with deep pinkish-purple flowers in tall spikes from June to September. When ripe the long seed capsules split open to reveal numerous fluffy seeds.
Rosebay willowherb is quick growing and produces abundant fluffy seeds which are readily carried on the wind. The roots are long, branched and spreading and give rise to new leafy shoots producing large weed patches.
Cultural methods such as hoeing and forking-out are effective against this shallow-rooted weed. Opaque mulching films can also be used to suppress its growth around woody plants or on unplanted beds.
In borders: Spot treat carefully with the non-selective weedkiller glyphosate (Roundup). Take care if applying such herbicides between ornamental plants by covering them with plastic sheeting whilst spraying. The covers can be removed once the spray has dried onto the weed foliage. Spraying with a ready-to-use formulation of glyphosate is probably the most accurate method of application.
In uncultivated land and around established trees and shrubs: SBM Job done Tough Weedkiller (ready-to-use only), SBM Job done Path Weedkiller (ready-to-use only) and Scotts Weedol Pathclear products containing glyphosate/diflufenican and can be applied once a season to natural surfaces where no plants are to be grown, and can also be applied under and around established woody trees and shrubs. This product kills off existing small green growth and prevents or checks developing growth. Check manufacturer’s recommendations before use to avoid damaging sensitive plants.Inclusion of a weedkiller product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by the RHS. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener.
Weedkillers for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining weedkillers available to gardeners; see sections 4 and 5)
Chemicals: using a sprayer Chemicals: using safely and effectively Chemicals: using spot and broad-scale Weeds: non-chemical control
Bindweed Brambles and other woody weeds Butterbur and winter heliotropeCouch grass Ground elder Herb robertHimalayan balsamHorsetail Japanese knotweedPendulous sedge
the RHS today and get 12 months for the price of 9
RHS members can get exclusive individual advice from the RHS Gardening Advice team.
We're a UK charity established to share the best in gardening. We want to enrich everyone's life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.