Growing Swan Plants from seed

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  • #47190



    Does anyone have any advice for growing Swan Plants from seed? This year, about half of the seeds that I planted germinated. I repotted then into separate containers containing potting mix when they were a few centimetres high. None of them have taken off, many have died and the ones that have survived look thin and unhealthy compared to the specimens you can buy from garden centres.

    Thanks in advance for any assistance.

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    After having many plants growing from seed in shallow tubs around my house, I have found that:-
    >>- The plants have long tap roots that if damaged, (broken short) are likely to cause the plantling to die.
    >>- Plans that one buys in a shop are contained in a pot so transplanting is a ‘secure’ process when it comes to root damage.
    >>- Seedlings ‘in the open’ need to be transplanted when quite small to avoid root damage. My point about the the shallow tubs is that damage will occur if I let the plants get too big.

    It is now October 1st and I have seedlings two weeks old. Come get some!
    Barry P. Christchurch. 0223.140.100



    Hi Stylee – as the plants are just about to start scattering the seeds, I think it would be a good time to do so now or over the next couple of months.

    Hope that helps!




    Morning Jacqui. I like the idea of flinging them to the wind and leaving them to it. What time of year should we do this please?



    I’ve had no success with trying indoor germination for Swan plants but with EVERY other seed and/or seedling (and especially when re-potting Swan plants) I’ve used Organic Biofeed* – follow the label instructions – dilute 1:20, soak seedling in solution for at least 10 minutes before transplanting then water in with the solution. I also get berserk leaf regrowth from regular use on potted or garden bed Swan plants.

    * the warehouse has it cheapest I think.



    An additional point about germinating the seeds inside. I have done so very successfully but learned that I needed to replicate the wind by using a fan on the seedlings to prevent spindly stems. If not they ended up dying when transplanted. I have also found when transplanting bigger plants that if I put the roots in water and place the bucket in a dark place (a storage place in my case with no light source) for 2-3 days the plants recover from the shock and usually grow quite well when put in the garden. Caryl



    Start swan plant seeds indoors one to two months before the last frost date in your area.

    Wrap the swan plant seeds in moist paper towels 24 hours before sowing.

    Fill plastic planting flats with a seed-starting soil.

    Soak the soil and allow excess water to drain.

    Sow swan plant seeds on top of the soil, a quarter-inch to a half-inch from each other.

    Cover the seeds with a quarter-inch of the seed-starting soil.

    Mist the soil surface.

    Cover the flats with a plastic bag.

    Place the flats in a sunny window.

    Remove the plastic bag when the seeds start to germinate. This should occur within a week to 10 days.

    Keep the soil moist for the seedlings. Swan plant seedlings should be watered from the bottom of the tray. Fill the sink with a couple of inches of water and place the tray in the sink. Allow the tray to remain there until the soil surface becomes moist.

    Place the seedlings outside–in a sheltered location–when they are three to six inches tall. Do this for three days in a row, but bring them inside at night.

    Plant the seedlings 24 inches apart in an area of your garden where they will receive full sun.

    Water frequently — when the soil becomes dry — and add mulch.

    Fertilize the swan plant three times during the season, using a liquid fertilizer.



    I too have found that it’s really difficult to transplant any of the milkweed species.

    Yet and annoyingly the ‘Blood flowers’ are spreading seeds all round the garden. No doubt into the neighbour’s gardens and elsewhere into the neighbourhood as well – and the seeds all seem to spring up and grow with vigour.

    In fact the Blood flowers have no spread so much that they have become a weed, we are having to pull them out.



    I totally second what scootercat says. We have a ‘wasteland’ at the side of our house after many trees were downed and left lying, and it is now totally covered with swan plants that have blown there from my many swan plant areas. I also have to dig them out of paths and our gravel driveway. They have grown in front of the 2 caravans we have got and we can’t even get in the doors! I have found that the seeds from last year’s plants seem to sit all winter and spring up in spring and summer. Very few come up straight away, they seem to need the colder weather and then they go mad. I have thousands upon thousands of self seeded swan plants now, I will never need to buy any more seeds or plants. And this is after ruthlessly removing all the swan plants in inconvenient places. I too, would advise just flinging them around the area you want them, after all, that’s what nature does when the seeds emerge from their pods. I had very little success in growing them myself so I prefer to leave it to nature now. Remember that the birds will get some, in my case, the many free range chickens, but not even 100 of them feeding could get rid of all the seeds we get. If I had been told this when I started planting swan plants in 2013 I wouldn’t have believed I would get to this stage, but it didn’t take long at all and if I left them, the whole acre around the farmhouse would be overtaken with swan plants.

    Oh, I also put buckets with flower plants in them over an area that had seeds just sitting (not that I knew that) and come spring I shifted the buckets and that is how I got the first Swan Plant Forest – I now have 5 forests.

    Although, to start me off, I germinated 12 giant swan plant seeds in those Jiffy Pots, all of which came up, one of the few seed successes I have had.



    That’s right – just fling them in a spare patch of the garden and wait. I haven’t had success with seed trays etc but have to weed them out of my paths. In my experience they can take a while to germinate, I still have them coming up from last year’s seeds that have been in the ground for a year. They like a bit of water, and they don’t like being transplanted so much. Good luck!



    Hi Chipwich,

    There is lots of information in the forum here and I’m afraid I don’t have the time to go over it. Basically, the swan plant is a weed, and if you treat it too kindly, it will turn its toes up. Plant lots of seed, scatter it everywhere and let the plant do what it wants. It will grow in cracks in concrete, it will grow wherever you DON’T want it to grow. Just don’t treat it too kindly.

    If you (or anyone) want(s) more seed, we would be happy to provide it. Send a stamped SAE to Jacqui Knight, 3 Morpeth Place, Blockhouse Bay 0600.

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