What do I feed potted swan plants?

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  • #13062

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I have my first ever batch of caterpillars. The neighbour’s labrador leaned on my large plant and snapped the stem (damn!) so I have sourced some potted plants and transferred the caterpillers. I want to keep the plants in pots inside for now as the weather here in Wellington is deteriorating, particularly at night. The potted plants have quite a few leaves that are yellow so I’m guessing the plants need feeding. Can someone please tell me what is best to feed them.

    clair

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  • #17488

    Swansong
    Participant

    Hi Clair, I think Ive posted this elsewhere but ah well. Now, I have discovered those little wee miniature wooden spring pegs you can get from artists shops are EXCELLENT for pinning to a stem, the gathering of leaves our “Naughties” so carelessly waste. Mine is in operation as we speak : ). ( yes I have a total grand population of …wait for it …drum roll please….di dum!!! ONE , I got it off my mum coz it was so cute, I believe you can get miniature bulldog clips too which would be quite good too)

    Swansong

    #17481

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi Swansong and margie, I did get hold of Jacqui and apparently my posts were going to the spam box!! Hopefully all fixed now.

    And many, many thanks for describing how to feed pillars the extra leaves. I’ve got heaps of leaves on branches sitting in water. A neighbour’s child brought me 6 starving fatties 2 days ago and a further 8 yesterday so those leaves might come in handy.
    clair

    #17439

    margie
    Participant

    Hi Clair, Not sure if this is your problem or not but after you have posted try refreshing the site and see if that fixes it 🙂
    Cheers Margie

    #17428

    Swansong
    Participant

    Clair in regards to the “last post” etc, you might want to drop Jacqui an email if you havent done this already, as she likes to know and has a procedure to follow when there are forum probs.

    Swansong

    #17427

    Swansong
    Participant

    “fat Naughties!”

    : ) …
    Oh, and I like the capital letter too.

    “How do you feed them the extra leaves?”

    with difficulty….. if theyre not in the mood…. in other words its touch and go as to whether they will “wear it” or not… however you can do a number of things:

    1/ Hang it in a strategic place by wedging it where a leaf joins a stem …
    2/ If one is hanging in the right position, like upside down, and he’s just about finished his leaf, you can gently coax it into his three front “claws”, but its hard to explain in it words. I’ve successfully done this on a number of occasions… but it definitely only comes about easily with :
    a/ a hungry starving pillar
    b/ being in the right place at the right time with the pillar in the right position.
    3/ A Much easier strategy is to give it to one who has boned out a stem by gathering a group or even one leaf, and use a peg or something that will clip them/it onto the stem, of course in the general direction of where the pillar is likely to go, and there’s usually only one way back from up….and thats down (ha ha) unless they get cranky and just drop, for no other reason than to show you they can : ) … OR
    4/ Just simply gather them up and clip them on a plant with diminishing tucker with lots of mouths munching and they will go for it eventually. Ive done this successfully heaps of times, notwithstanding there is a wee bit of waste where the leaf/leaves are clipped to the stem..

    Phew!!!
    Hope that helps : )

    Swansong

    #17341

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I notice I’m not getting added to the “last poster” or “freshness” column. If anyone comes across this and can help I would be very grateful.
    clair

    #17330

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Swansong, that is great advice for the seeds – thanks heaps. And yes, I’ve noticed the different eating habits – I’ve got a couple of fat Naughties! How do you feed them the extra leaves?

    #17233

    Swansong
    Participant

    “I found them just a couple of weeks ago, and now I’m totally hooked.”

    Ha ha , hey good one Clair! they have that affect on you, : ) the pillars are priceless, and they have their own little personalities I’m sure. Like, some are really tidy eaters and will utilize all the leaf by eating down one side of it, (the leaf sorta curls out to one side) then they will start on the other side polishing it all off. Others will start at the tip of the leaf and eat it going from side to side eating right across the whole width, then again some who are VERY NAUGHTY are wastful and start munching, and anywhere will do, sorta style. Then you look on the ground to find parts of leaves everywhere. Grrrrrr!! but you CANT remain irate at these little tigers. : )))) Theres one consolation though, if you get the pillar at the right time and youre smart about it, you can actually feed them these leaves. Ha ha. : ) Also of note is some will go under the leaf and take a little nip out of the leaf right where it joins to the stem. I haven’t worked out why they do this except that it seems to be on an angle they like. Maybe its to keep out of each others way. You dont get a lot of pillars doing this but theres always a few who do.

    Im not too sure about swan plant seeds, but something that may be worth noting that I have found out over time, is some seeds need a frost or certain low temperatures to be viable to germinate. Its almost as if they need a “weathering period” outside for want of a better explanation…. or it could be they just need a minimum dormant period too.

    Heres what I would do now if you have some seeds. Just cultivate a bit of ground and make the soil reasonably pliable with not too many big lumps. It doesnt have to be any more than say a square foot or 2, and spread the seeds out a bit then let them just sit there or slightly under the soil surface. You might like to cover this little piece of ground so the cats cant scratch it up and poo in it like they typically will do. Any old netting (synthetic or wire) should do the trick. Pin it down with some rocks or something. I would leave them there over winter and come spring or probably more like early summer, (but germination can carry on over quite a time span) therell be lotsa little swannies coming up. I would wait until they are about 6inches high then I would carefully transplant them. As Ive said, they are weeds, but in pots Ive found they do need frequent watering or they will wilt, at least in the dry conditions. Inside over the winter it will be of course less. Also its far better to have plastic pots, not the terricota ones that lose the moisture so quick its ridiculous. Welly shouldn’t be too much different to what I have to face in Manawatu. FROSTS Arggghhh. Swannies are frost tender and us unfortunate folks have to protect our plants from these.

    Theres plenty of good info on this forum, and there are lot’s of peoples ( from newbies to old hands) recorded experiences which are invaluable …. so I hope you will continue to enjoy the forums.

    Cheers
    Swansong

    #17231

    swivel
    Participant

    Hi Clair,—Both Swansong and Yvonne are right, I use both of those on my vegie garden and around the fruit trees, the B &B obviously is a natural fert but I’m not sure just how ballanced it is. The Nitrophosca is a ballanced NPK fertiliser and is excellent, I use it on the farm twice a year and also used it around my swan plants, I must admit I was a bit more generous than Swansong, but I buy it in big bags for the farm and at a fraction of the price you pay for little bags in the garden shops. When you have put it on give the plants a good watering otherwise the nitrogen component will evaporate into the air. You will get excellent rich green growth, and I’d do them again next spring as they start their new seasons growth. Cats love the leaves, I’ve just had my biggest tagging day so far, 24 I think, all healthy and hopefully programmed to go thru the winter. —-cheers, Neil

    #17230

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Thanks heaps Swansong and Yvonne. Interesting about the potting mix – I have put dozens of seedlings in pots over the last few years and only had 2 survive, so perhaps the brand has been the problem! Actually, my apalling survival rate for seedlings is what is making me really nervous about using fertiliser now. I have bad soil, but manage a reasonable garden with bags of Zoodoo. Unfortunately that is too strong for pots. I couldn’t bear it if I used something that affected the pillars.

    They are indeed the most amazing little creatures! I found them just a couple of weeks ago, and now I’m totally hooked. I’ve been late for work every day because I have to check each pillar every morning, and my cats are quite piqued that the pillars get more attention than they do. I even started to miss watching them during the day, so I have brought in a pot to work.

    I think this website is going to be invaluable to a newbie like me – thanks again.
    clair

    #17229

    yvonne
    Participant

    Although I have not used it yet on swan plants, I find blood and bone is a good boost for almost anything.

    #17228

    Swansong
    Participant

    Hi Clair,
    Congrats on your first batch of pillars, who you’ll find, I’m sure, are amazing little creatures! As for the stoopid damn dog, I know what Id like to do to the thing….nuff said!

    I found at the early part of the season my leaves were yellowing too, and indeed need another zap right now. My mum gave me some stuff called Nitrophoska BlueExtra Fertilizer. Not sure if thats the complete name as she was having a bit of difficulty reading the label to me over the phone. Anywayz it is bluey green little round pelletts. I’d use rubber gloves and just grab a wee handful and sprinkle them on. I had about a dozen pelletts per pot, around 7 to 10 inches in diameter. As you water your plants, it releases the fertilizer slowly over time. I didn’t see the instructions so I might be a bit off beam here as to the amounbt of pelletts. Soooo, I found this fixed the yellowing very well. Depending on the size of your pot plants and the pots they are in, you might want to change their soil if you can or otherwise use fertilizer. Probably being in Welly you havn’t free access to more natural fertilizers, but bought stuff is better than none at all. Also be very careful to wash or rinse your bought plants as they may have been sprayed and that will affect the pillars for sure if they have. Also a warning about some potting mix. Theres been reports here of it causing problems. I dont know much about what brand, coz I just use my own soil. Perhaps someone will chime in on this.

    Oh just a quick edit… I forgot to mention, there will be plenty of all round fertilizers that you can use, and you dont necessarily have to use the one I’ve mentioned.. Swanplants are actually considered weeds especially further north. They are supposed to be pretty hardy, but I found they can be temperamental too, especially with frosts. As you can under fertilize the same holds true with overfertilizing them, so it would be good to read the instructions on this.

    All the best and hope this helps.
    Swansong

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