Swan plants and Monarch butterflys

dwcapper5March 2, 2002

When I lived in N.Z as a kid we had a swan plant that would bring to the garden monarch butterflies. Now I am living in Sydney I would love to introduce them into my organic garden. Does anyone know if these plants are available here in Australia???

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I live in Auckland NZ and have no idea about there availability in Aussie but I love my swan plants and our garden is full of monach butterflies and the seeds are readily available here,if you like I will send you some seeds.If you want to email me for some seeds email

    Bookmark   March 3, 2002 at 4:51AM
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Try Kings Seeds they are in Australia too. Parramatta ? I think. They have three Asclepias variety and Yates over here have A physocarpa the Swan plant so have a look where Yates sell their seeds and you may spot some. Heather

    Bookmark   March 4, 2002 at 1:53PM
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I also live in Auckland, but spent to butterfly seasons in Sydney, I called the local plant shop, where I lived in Greystanes and they pointed me in the right direction to purchase plants.

when you have the plants in your garden, remember to have them dotted around the garden, then the caterpillars once finished devouring one plant will seek out the others, this just gives the plants a bit of a chance to survive and not get totally decimated. Also remember that in order to have butterflies you will need a good supply of nectar plants around the garden.

The butterflies will come to feed on the nectar, find the swan plants, lay eggs, the cycle has begun, always good to have a source of nectar close at hand when the butterflies have emerged, as soon as their wings are dry they will need to feed to gain energy.

Happy swan plant growing


    Bookmark   September 2, 2002 at 2:28AM
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I have been growing Swan plants down here in Melbourne for awhile - sadly no passing Monarchs have shown an interest ( although the aphids do seem to love them ).
Plenty of seed if you haven't been able to locate any already.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2002 at 2:52AM
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Yes aphids do love swan plants, however digital control works well, otherwise left over dish water in a spray bottle.

Do you have a lot of flowering plants in your garden?


    Bookmark   September 26, 2002 at 6:46PM
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I was wondering if those of you living in the Auckland region of NZ, would be interested in growing swan plants for a voluntary group who educate young people about the life cycle of the Monarch? It would be a great help to grow them out of the spray zone. Currently every three weeks our area is being sprayed from above with Btk or Foray 48b to rid us of the Painted Apple Moth, when the caterpillars eat leaves that have been sprayed they basically die. It affects the digestive system. ANYONE WHO IS WILLING TO HELP?


    Bookmark   November 5, 2002 at 3:44PM
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Hi Raine,

I am willing to help grow the swan plants as I am out of the spray zone and love the Monarch butterfly.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2004 at 4:21PM
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I just experienced the last month of the metamorphis of the monarch. What a sight to see captured in my own back yard. Here in Australia the milk weed is classed as a weed but the experience of watching nature at its best one can never forget. I have pics of the changing from caterpillar to the pupa stage (chrysalis) which took approx 45mins
I captured what I could on camera although I dont have a digigal cam I scanned the best I could
If anyone would like to see these pics will be happy to email them to you

Happy hunting dana1950

    Bookmark   March 19, 2005 at 6:53AM
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danal, can you post them on the Oz Gallery.
It is a really interesting experience to see the chrysalis change.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2005 at 1:03PM
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Hi, A few monts ago I bought a swan plant, and I has grown rather big now and has flowers and small spiky kinda pods on it. The butterflies are just not coming so how can I attract them to lay eggs. help!
thanks ;)

    Bookmark   April 1, 2005 at 8:48PM
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Are monarch butterflies common in your area? They're still flying here: one was on the windfall apples with the wasps this afternoon. However, the swan plants all seem to be recovering from being munched and the plants are desperately flowering before it gets too cold. You might have to ask around to see if anyone has more caterpillars than they have surviving swan plant - and would be willing to let you take some home to feast at your place.

As you're a butterfly fan - and live in Canterbury- you might find that some well-contained English nettles in the garden will attract the Admiral butterflies; and a buddleja shrub, (B davidia) will be a welcome site for Admirals and the little meadow blue moths. If you include moths in your likes, then a couple of ragwort plants could be home to the rather nice striped caterpillars of the cinnabar moth which is a dusky purple grey and red. Ask at the regional council if they have sites where you can collect caterpillars. It's used as a biological control for ragwort in rural areas.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2005 at 2:54AM
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Hi, thankyou very much for your information Vetivert8. I have seen a few monarch butterflies in my garden but the seem to have trouble finding my swan plants.
I shall now ask around for some catepillars.
Can the caterpillars survive the frosts and the cold in Christchurch?
thanks again :)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2005 at 11:49PM
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Greetings! I'm a lurker from Canada. I have been really fascinated by Ascelepias Physocarpa ( swan plant). I have various types of milkweed in my yard and of course am totally fascinated with the Monarch butterfly. It is just getting to the end of summer here and my milkweed is just about ready to burst into bloom.
Could any of your N.Z. gardeners give me some info on the swan plant. When does it get planted, how long does it take till it's in full flower. Does it reseed freely. I know that there is a vast difference in our climates and totally upside down seasons but I would really like to try this plant. The pictures that I have had the opportunity to see look very interesting. I hope that one of you can pass this information along for me.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2005 at 12:48AM
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Here is some info on the monarch butterfly

Here is a link that might be useful: butterfly

    Bookmark   August 18, 2005 at 2:32PM
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Hi, I live in Blenheim NZ and have a bit of a problem at the moment. I have had far to many catipillars hatch and they have completly striped my plants and I have no food left for them. If any one is in the region or knows of someone who is and could take some from me to ease the load I would be hugly grateful.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2005 at 12:55AM
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Hi. I live in Rotorua and this was my first year growing Swan Plants for Monarchs. My first plant is now large (trunk as thick as a wrist and has about 50 caterpillars of various sizes. What I want to know is:
1. Will the emerging butterflies (mid April) survive as it will be getting cold then?
2. Do swan plants live for more than one season?
3. When is the best time of the year to sow seeds for Swan Plants. I have previous tried in early spring without success.
Thanks for any replies.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 5:01PM
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I am looking for the name of a plant which grew in our garden when I was a young child which had what looked like real 'swans' on it and was a small to medium shrub about 4 ft high with feathery/ferney foliage. I am guessing it is the seed pod or perhaps it was the actual 'flower'. I remember we would very gently squeeze the 'tummy' of the bird which was pale green and it kept us busy for many delightful hours. I really would love to know what it's name is if anyone could help.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 2:58AM
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You might be looking for Sutherlandia frutescens - either seeds or plants. It comes from South Africa originally. Good luck.

(King's Seeds might, if they're still operating. Or Niche Imports, Box 8, Ashurst, NZ)

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 10:38PM
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I have grown a 'swan' plant from seed and it's about 6 feet high. We watched the Butterflies lay their eggs on it( end of Feb 2011). Caterpillars emerged during the following week (I think it was). We counted 25 of them, a few days later there were only 15 and today (8 March 2011) We can only see three caterpillars! We really wanted to see the Chrysalis!! What happened to all the caterpillars??

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 1:01AM
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Where can I obtain Milkweed seeds in Australia.
I am keen to help increase the Monarh populations in my southern area of Western Australia.
Is the Swan plant the same by another name or is it another which the Monarch caterpillars will happily eat?
Please help.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 1:52AM
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