Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
As a cut flower, it is hard to beat the swan plant. These stems are suitable for all sorts of floral designs. They’re ideal as accent or form flowers. These have a very good vase life of around ten to fourteen days or so.
Swan plant is related to the milkweeds. This is a great choice for cutting gardens.
The sturdy stems can be 1˝ feet or so in length. For cut flowers, these are harvested once the ball-shaped, translucent pods are fully formed. These are covered with soft, green hairs.
The flowers of swan plant are rather insignificant compared to those of other milkweeds. The blooms aren't actually the part that are used in floral arrangements. For cut flowers, it is what follows the blossoms that is really interesting. The translucent, inflated pods are pale green. The shape can range from round to more ovoid. These are 2˝ inches or so in diameter. The stems are sticky and hairy.
In the cutting garden, the stems will be ready for harvest about four months from the time the seeds are planted. Be sure and harvest the pods in the green stage. If left to mature and dry on the plant, these can split and release hairy white fibers just like any other milkweed relative.
The swan plants are about five feet tall or so, depending on the variety. Very vigorous and quick growing, these plants are treated as an annual mostly when grown in cutting gardens. In warm climates, this can also be grown as a deciduous shrub.
Seeds of several varieties of the swan plant are available. These are listed in the Johnny’s and Thompson and Morgan seed catalogs. They should be available elsewhere as well. The varieties include Hairy Balls swan plant. This is about four to seven feet in height.
Oscar swan plants can be very tall—up to five feet or so.
Swan plants should be planted in a sunny spot in the cutting garden. The seeds can take up to two weeks or so to germinate. They need a warm temperature—at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Swan plants need