Does anyone have swanplants??

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  • #13040


    Hi there,

    My caterpillars are hatching, and there are many.

    I have some healthy plants but can foresee already that there won’t be enough food in the near future.

    I am in Tokoroa.

    Does anyone have swanplants to spare??

    I am traveling between Hamilton and Tokoroa on Wednesday, coming. Could pick up in that area then.

    Apparently the suppliers of plant shops have run out of swanplants to sell…..

    I don’t want to euthenise any newly born caterpillars. But I cannot seem to find homes for my caterpillars either as people are convinced it is too late in the season for them to hatch properly. Also I want to tagg them upon releasing and not every one wants that ‘hassle'

    Thanks Mimi

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  • #17469


    Hi Esther,
    If you are worried and the pillars are hanging on a leaf in their J I break the leaf off and bring the J inside, I have small jars with lids on, and I tape one end of the leaf to 1 jar and the other end of the leaf to the other jar and then the J hangs in the middle of both jars still attached to the leaf. I have done heaps like that this season and had 100% success rate, and they change very quickly. You could use anything like 2 blocks of wood would do the same.The when the chrysalis is nice and hard I hang them inside as well as this speeds up the hatching as well.
    Cheers Margie



    Hi Esther

    As the weather cools down / rain, dark etc, the process does slow down.





    Just thought to post an update…

    Thanks to Cazie who went to H’ton I now have 5 extra plants to feed my cats on.

    I put them in amongst my stripped plant lot and within hours most of the Catterpillars had found their new greens. They have munched quite a bit already, being the big eaters they are at this stage.As they are all bt a few ready to turn shortly.

    In our day of shortage in food, the cats have been munching on the stems of the plants as well as some courgette….hope that won’t result in too many problems.

    Today I have 15 out of….say 60/70 cats hanging in Js.
    Many more escaping to find a hanging spot. The trick is to keep track of where they go!
    It’s like in the newsletter’s story.

    3 on the wall, two on the eve, 5 in the lavendar…..
    I hope we won’t ‘lose’ too many as I am planning to take all chrysalisses inside to hatch in the safety of the house. It is startng to get quite cold at night here in good old Tokoroa already, do not want to risk a frost, that is for sure.

    Does anyone know if rainy days impact on the speed of the caterpillars in J shapes forming their chrysalis? Just wondering. How long can that take generally?

    Kind Regards Esther



    Hi Mimi,

    I’ve had some garden centres telling me that the suppliers have run out, but not true! Other centres which had no plants 10 days ago are getting more supplies in, so it may pay to ring around again.

    I found the following website which is great for tracking down suppliers with plants available. If the suppliers sell to the public, their contact details are shown – otherwise not unless you have a trade licence. You can get a complete list of each suppliers plants with the availability shown.

    Hope this helps.



    Hi Mimi,

    I went to the Plant Place yesterday and they still have a good stock of plants left, the are all nice and big and only $6 each. If you could make the trip extra trip from Cambridge to Hamilton it would be worth while. Plant Place is on the corner of Kahikatea Drive and Higgins Rd. Hope this helps




    I have now 60+ caterpillars on my plants. Steadily running out of food.

    Unfortunately I didn’t get to The Plant Place as yet, as my plans changed.
    But between Tokoroa and Cambridge I have been able to locate one very run down nursery where the lady managed to locate the very last Swanplant in the area. All other nurseries visited have run out before easter and all say the suppliers have run out too.

    I cannot travel to Auckland to pick up plants. I know there are some for sale on Trade me.

    Talking to people in town here, everyone has had a sudden and late as well as increased influx of butterflies (sitings) and caterpillars hatching now.

    So, I have not been able to locate un occupied plants so far.

    If anyone can help with plants at all, please let me know.

    Kind Regards Esther


    Would be great to have a sell and swap type page on the website? With someway to support the trust in the way of a fee or donation. Angie



    Hi Zoe

    There are other sorts of milkweed. A. curassavica is probably the most useful – and it has delightful red and yellow flowers. You can get seeds of it from the MBNZT, $5 a packet. Plant it now and you’ll have large plants for next spring. But for now I am also selling milkweed – mostly swan plant seedlings and giant swan plant seedlings. Sell on trademe, email me – if you want some.




    Hi Angie and yes, that’s it. I must admit I didn’t know what it was, I just assumed it was milkweed as the caterpillars would eat it.
    I haven’t had to collect it for a while as I’ve been alright with food for my caterpillars so I blame my dodgy memory for mistaking it for the heart-shaped sandvine. The distinctive flowers were the give-away though.
    I’d be really interested to know now if there are any other kinds of milkweed growing in NZ. I’ve just been researching and aside from someone apparently selling Asclepias Incarnata on TradeMe last year I couldn’t find any.



    Oops, my mistake.
    Jacqui you are correct. I just did a search for this araujia sericifera and the photo I found of it looks more like the ‘milkweed’ I collect than the sandvine I thought it was. Sorry for any confusion or misleading advise.
    I’m a bit confused now though as I always thought it was some type of milkweed but apparently it’s just a common vine. Is it part of the milkweed family?
    And, it sounds nasty ! Also known as the ‘moth plant’ as moths and butterflies get trapped in the flowers. Why would nature create a plant that monarch pillars can eat if it’s only going to trap them in it’s flowers when they’re butterflies.
    Quite disturbing really.

    #17190 – is this the plant?

    This plant should not be grown or moved. Release cats onto it, and help by removing seed pods.




    Zoe – where are you? Monarchwatch lists milkweed available in North America.

    I don’t believe we have the sandvine here – perhaps the plant you’re talking about is Araujia sericifera? I would be interested to know!




    Hi Mimi
    Yes, do check out the Plant Place. They have lovely big plants. I would reccommend you get one of the perennial milkweeds, if they have any left. These plants have much tougher leaves than the annuals. They can handle the big cats much better than the annual milkweed.


    if you get really stuck, I have plenty of food, on large plants and I have a few plants for sale in Auckland, . Angie



    Hi Mimi and you can always check any public places in your area to see if other types of milkweed are growing wildly.

    I’m lucky that I have both a golf-course and park nearby and both of them have wild milk-weed growing in abundance. The type I’m finding is called Cynanchum laeve (Sand blue vine) and it’s easily spotted as it’s usually strangling some other poor plant !

    Most caterpillars will happily eat this, especially if introduced to it when young.

    The following link shows photos of the different types available so you know what you’re looking for. If unsure though (and I was at first when I started seeking this stuff out) just snap off a leaf and hope you see white sap !

    Good luck !



    Thanks Yvonne, much appreciated, will have a look, if I can find them.

    Any other ideas?




    If you are coming to Hamilton I think they still have some at the Plant Place – and they are monarch fans and their plants are quite safe. They are in Kahikatea Drive.

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