Swan plants not growing and have white fly.

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  • #13204


    Hi there.

    I am in West Auckland.

    I need a bit of help with my swan plant seeds.

    I am trying to grow some early and I put the seeds I bought as well as some packet

    seeds from the garden centres in containers,inside in a spare bedroom that has good sun etc.

    They grow to about 2 inchs high and then stop basically, I am also getting alot of

    white fly on them. I have tried Maverick and target I think it is, but it still doesn’t get rid

    of them.It takes ages for them to even reach the 2 inches.

    Can you offer any advice to get them to grow better for me please.

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  • #18308


    April, I dont recall anyone saying specifically, so I’ll just chip in and say, when you put your plants outside, you might want to put them in a sheltered spot or cover them from the frosts. They can take a few, but they can suddenly turn their toes up too when theyve had enough.

    Just reading back over this thread, Jacqui, thats a good tip about the Willow and nettle.

    Some egg cartons can make handy germination pots. Not sure on the toxicity level if they are coloured or have chemicals in the actual cartons themselves, but they might be a goer in that they would just eventually rot away when you planted them into the ground or a bigger pot. It would be a doddle for the tap root to punch a hole in the bottom of a (wet/damp) carton well, and that would keep disturbance to a minimum. Just an idea.

    Hey clair thats very good advice to stagger your plantings if you need to be somewhat judicious with your seed. Im not that much further North than you, and so far Ive had great success by just letting the seed sit where it falls and in the next season I always gets lots of babies popping up here and there, but it tends to be over the whole summer. They certainly dont all come up at once. When you say youve always had total failure in planting those seeds in the ground, is that fresh seed ie less than, say, 10 months old? …also, how deep do you plant them?

    It looks like Im in for a job. All my plantings under my cordened off area, are backing onto my vege garden which is raised about a foot. I certainly haven’t had time or the material to fill the swanplant area and it is still ground level. In the wet season it can get VERY wet where my plants will certainly be swimming. On the good side is the surface area drains superbly well for downpours but Im a little worried deeper down. I might therefore have to try and raise them at least a bit in the meantime. As is mentioned earlier, swanplants dont necessarily like being disturbed from the ground but if I’m going to do it winter is the right time. Time I went and checked what my compost bin is doing too. Yes I’m out of touch with it at the mo as other commitments have been pressing. This scenario will be the case at least for the next week or 2 then hopefully…



    A friend, Heather, works in a nursery and is a pretty darned good swanplant grower. She’s given me a few tips. You should start seeds in seed raising mix but move them to potting mix when they have four little leaves. Seed raising mix doesn’t have enough nutrients in it to get the plants any bigger. Use a good quality potting mix – you may need to add a bit of sand to potting mix to help with drainage. Swanplants like water, but they hate wet feet.

    Just as a word of warning .. never to use a spray on your swanplants to get rid of nasties. I don’t know much about Target, but another friend of mine tried it for aphids and it was disastrous. The blurb on it says it moves through the leaf, which sounds dangerous. It lasted an awfully long time and caused considerable harm.



    April, I’m in Wellington and have always had total failure if I sow the seeds straight into the ground, but I know people further north do well with that method – perhaps a northerner will chime in here….although I think they may not come up until spring? How about sowing a few straight into the ground and some inside – see what the difference is. I put my seeds in the fridge for at least a couple of weeks (so they think they’ve been through winter) then sow them in trays of seed raising mix, and keep them inside misting them with tepid water (simulating the onset of spring) until they have germinated and are about 5-7cm tall. I have no success growing milkweed inside – no idea why, but some plants don’t like gas which I have, so could be that or someting completely different. Anyway, next I harden them off by first putting the tray out on the verandah and then outside in a sheltered spot where they can get some sun. I have found they are not fond of being transplanted so I then carefully put each seedling in potting mix in those really cheap little black plastic bags you get at garden centres. I usually dip just the tips of the roots in a little liquid honey at this stage too. Then back to a sunny sheltered spot to grow to a reasonable size before planting out or transferring to bigger pots.

    With the cuttings, it’s dip in liquid honey, then into potting mix in those little black bags and straight to a sunny sheltered spot. I poke a hole in the potting mix so that the honey stays put as it goes in.

    Another thing I’ve learned is to do things in batches. If you use all your seed or cuttings at once and something goes wrong, you’ve lost the lot and it’s soul destroying! But if you stagger things, then you can usually figure out what went wrong from the first lot and save the rest 🙂

    Swansong, good luck with those cuttings – let me know how you go.



    hi, when I used either honey or icing sugar, do I plant just the same
    as an ordinary cutting.?
    Also, when I put seeds in in July,should I plant them straight in the ground,
    or in pots inside.
    Thanks, April.



    Instead of rooting compound, I have always used icing sugar… just dip the cuttings in the i. sugar…. has worked well for me and now I might try the honey.



    Hey Clair thanks for the heads up on the honey and that is even better coming from you (from my point of view) coz youre in Wellington. This is great that you have successfully taken cuttings and got them to grow. WOW! Guess what I’ll be doing? … and very soon …. : ).



    I start my cuttings in pots in potting mix in shelter but you might be OK in Auckland with no frosts.
    I cut them just below a leaf node and use rooting hormone but I must try your honey, Clair, thanks for that, regards, Bill



    My cousin who is a fantastic gardener told me to always take cuttings at a node – preferably with a heel – and dip it in liquid honey before popping it in potting mix or the ground. I’ve done this for the last couple of years with all my cuttings and swear it works much better than rooting hormone which I used to use. I did this 3 weeks ago with a pile of swan plant and buddleia cuttings and every one has taken 🙂



    While some people buy rooting hormone, a bit of willow (leaves) or stinging nettle in the water when you take the cuttings, until such time as you plant them, is said to have the same effect. Gives your cuttings that initial burst to get it growing.



    Thank you Swansong and Belong..
    I didn’t know you could grow them from cuttings.will try that as well.
    I will put the mini ones that have grown to about 2 inches outside and see what
    happens to them.
    They have a 50% chance eh.I will plant some more seeds in July,I thought I was going
    to get a head start by growing them inside, but obviously not.Do I need to do anything special with the cuttings or just put them in the ground.?



    My horticultural adviser says don’t plant swan plant seeds before July. I find as a general rule that seedlings or seeds planted too early don’t mature any earlier that those planted when things start to warm up and are usually not so strong. There are some exceptions to this rule. Cuttings from swan plants could probably be started now, I have some in shelter.



    Hi April, others will be sure to know more about this than me, but I’ll put in my 2 bobs worth in the meantime. : )

    Mmmm west Auckland, you’d think the temps wouldn’t be a prob as in too cold. Im still learning and have a looong way to go as far as seeds go and germination etc, but it seems you’ve got yours to germinate OK, but how long ago did they pop up? I still have late germinated plants that have “moved” very little if at all for months. I would just put them outside being in the Auckland area with no frosts. Youd be better off that way as pests breed much more prolifically inside, and also brings other problems like moulds and stuff. Also It might be just a dormant period for the swanplants irregardless of what the temps are but that statement is a shot in the dark and I really dont know.

    White fly is a proper skunk to deal with in my experience, and I’m wondering how long youve had that prob. Inside or out, they will need to be dealt with for sure, and perhaps someone will chime in on the best and safest method to get rid of them. I’ve found things I can deal with adequately with soap and water (like aphids) wont wash with whitefly (excuse the pun) : ))) …. as I say, proper mongrels to deal with.

    HTHs a bit.

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