Vanilla Plant

Vanilla bean orchid (Vanilla plantifolia) is usually known simply as “vanilla” because the seed pods from this plant are the source of the natural vanilla flavoring used widely in desserts and beverages. While it’s a challenge to coax this plant into flowering and producing the seeds from which vanilla is harvested, the glossy green vine is a beautiful plant on its own.

Like many orchids, flavorer orchid may be a tropical species that needs high temperatures and humidity to thrive. In its native environment, this vining orchid is an epiphyte that lives on a number tree without drawing nutrients from it. The vine clambers up to the treetops during a zigzag fashion, exhibiting long succulent lance-shaped leaves. Each blooming branch will bear one to 2 dozen creamy blooms, for a complete of several hundred flowers on a mature vine.

Vanilla bean orchid is grown as a houseplant by serious enthusiasts who can handle the high demands of a plant that needs carefully controlled conditions and must be pollinated by hand so as to supply seeds. The Vanilla planifolia isn’t a simple plant to grow for beginners. Some previous success with orchid growing is useful . A greenhouse is additionally highly desirable, especially for gardeners who don’t sleep in a frost-free climate.1

Botanical NameVanilla plantifolia
Common NamesVanilla bean orchid, vanilla
Plant TypeEvergreen vining orchid
Mature Size8 to 10 feet
Sun ExposurePart shade to full shade
Soil TypeRich, fertile, consistently moist soil
Soil pH6.6 to 7.5
Bloom TimeSeasonal bloomer
Flower ColorYellow-green
Hardiness Zones11 to 12
Native AreaMexico and Central America

How to Grow flavorer Orchid

The Vanilla planifolia, like most orchids, grows best in bright filtered shade and high humidity. consider the native jungle habitat of the vanilla orchid; you want to replicate that environment also as possibly employing a combination of temperature controls and pampering mists and irrigation.

In its native habitat, a mature Vanilla planifolia vine can grow between 75 to 100 feet long . However, you’ll keep your vine to a manageable 8 to 10 feet in greenhouse conditions. Training the vine laterally rather than vertically allows you to grow more vine during a smaller space. Don’t bother with fancy latticework; an easy lumber structure is stronger and can soon be obscured by the vine.

Patience may be a requirement for those that wish to reap vanilla pods because the plants take anywhere from three to 5 years to mature from cuttings to flower production. Once the vine is established and flowering, hand-pollinate the flowers within the late morning with a chopstick. Remove pollen from the stamen of 1 flower and place it on the stigma of another flower. Within each day, flowers that have pollinated will wither on the vine instead of a slump. Small green pods will form within every week, eventually elongating into 6-inch pods which will be able to harvest in nine to 10 months.


Vanilla bean orchid prefers bright shade and can tolerate short periods of the morning sun.


Start your Vanilla planifolia during a mixture of half bark and half potting mix. this is often slightly more dense and heavy than most orchid growing media. Your cutting or small starter plant will need this mix of fantastic drainage and nutrients to nourish the plant while the vine develops. After the vine develops its epiphytic roots, it’ll not depend upon the roots within the potting mix.


Watering a flavorer orchid means keeping both the growing medium and therefore the wooden trellis structure damp because the plant is developing “air roots” that draw moisture from the air. Allow the potting mix to dry out slightly between waterings to stop root diseases, but maintain high humidity within the environment because this is often where the air roots obtain their moisture.2

Temperature and Humidity

Ideal temperatures are between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the dark and 80 to 95 degrees during the day. These plants aren’t frost-tolerant, which suggests those that don’t sleep in a tropical climate must grow them during a greenhouse.1

Mist your plant regularly and make every effort to stay an 80 percent humidity level. At an equivalent time, good air circulation is required to stop fungal rot.2


Fertilize your Vanilla planifolia every fortnight during the spring and summer with orchid fertilizer. Light but regular fertilization is suggested.

Propagating flavorer Orchid

This plant is generally propagated through cuttings:

  • Snip a segment of vine that has a minimum of six growing nodes thereon. Remove the 2 lowest leaves on the cutting.
  • Fill alittle flower pot with either moist sphagnum or a mix of equal parts orchid bark, peat moss, and perlite.
  • Bury the plant cutting into the growing medium, covering the lower nodes, press the medium tightly around the base of the cutting.
  • Insert a plant stake into the pot and secure the cutting thereto with ties.
  • Keep the growing medium constantly damp for four to 6 weeks, until new growth appears. Once the cutting begins to vine, you’ll train the new plant on a bigger trellis.


If pollination is successful, your three-year-old Vanilla planifolia will produce green bean-like pods from October through March. Good quality pods should be a minimum of 6 inches long. The curing process is labor-intensive and involves sweating and drying, which contributes to the premium price of vanilla beans sold in markets. a day for 6 weeks, you want to wrap the beans during a blanket in the dark to facilitate moisture condensation on the pods. During the day, place the beans on trays within the sun, or under an infrared lamp indoors. Following this sweating process, you ought to dry the now brown and shriveled pods during a dark, dry place for a further three months. you’ll store the cured beans in an airtight container indefinitely.

Common Pests/ Diseases

Vanilla bean orchids are often vulnerable to plant disease within the high-humidity environment they require. Rot is often prevented if you’ll balance high humidity with constant air circulation, which is that the reason why greenhouse environments are recommended for this plant.2

The plants also can be vulnerable to spider mites and mealybugs.3 Horticultural oil sprays are the simplest thanks to affect these pests. Mealybugs also can be killed by dabbing them with a cotton swap soaked in lotion .

Vanilla Plant Info

  • Hardiness Zones: 10, 11
  • Soil: Sandy loam, pH between 6.6-7.5, well-drained
  • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
  • Planting: Plant the cuttings in spring when the temperature is warm
  • Spacing: 6.6-feet between plants and rows
  • Depth: 1-inch
  • Best Companions: Banana, arrowroot

Worst Companions: Beans, peas

Watering: Water moderately, allow 2-3-inches to dry before watering again
Fertilizing: Fertilize with orchid fertilizer every 2 weeks during the spring and summer
Common Problems: Anthracnose, black rot, rust, root and stem rot, mealybugs, spider mites
Harvest: Harvest pods once they are a minimum of 6-inches long, 9-10 months after planting
Varieties of Vanilla Beans

There are different sorts of vanilla. They each have a singular flavor and, as a result, pair better with different dishes. Here are a number of the varied options for vanilla beans:

1. Madagascar

The Madagascar Bourbon flavorer is what most folks accompany the standard vanillait’s a sweet, classic flavor that’s great for baking or using in your favorite comfort foods.

2. Mexican

Mexican vanilla beans are a stimulating variety. they need the graceful, classic flavor of vanilla but with another kick of spice. It’s a superb choice for use in chocolate dishes, cinnamon-flavored dishes, or barbecue sauces.

3. Indonesian

This sort of vanilla features a milder, earthy flavor with another touch of smoke. It’s an honest option for baking or for pairing with chocolate.

4. Tahitian

The Tahitian variety is fun. it’s a fruity flavor with a touch of cherry undertones. It’s a superb option to be used in frozen dessert, paired with fruit, use din puddings, or in beverages.

5. Indian

The Indian variety is understood as having a bolder flavor. due to the boldness, it’s an excellent choice to be paired with chocolate.

6. Tonga

Tonga vanilla has less spice and more of a woody flavor thereto. It’s great when paired with dishes that highlight raisins and figs.

Planting Vanilla Beans

Vanilla beans aren’t the simplest plants to grow. It takes some trial and error on your part to work out what works for you. as a gardener, you furthermore may get to make some adjustments to support your planting zone.

When you plan to grow vanilla beans, it’s best to get the plant. the rationale being, vanilla plants grown from seed take 3-5 years before they will produce pods.

It are often difficult to locate these plants locally. you’ll search via the web for either flavorer plant or Vanilla planifolia . Do your research before purchase to form sure you’re getting an honest product.

Also, make certain to see that the plant you’re purchasing is 3-5 years old. Otherwise, you’ll be expecting years to reap from your plant.

1. Transplanting

Because there are few areas with the proper climate for vanilla within the US and Canada, the simplest thanks to growing it’s during a container.

After your plant has arrived, you’ll got to transplant it. You don’t want to settle on an enormous pot, but pick a container that’s approximately 2 times larger than the plant itself.

When you’ve found the right pot, fill it half filled with orchid potting soil. If you can’t find this particular soil, you’ll use half bark and half regular potting soil.

Gently place the plant within the pot and canopy the roots with soil. Add a lattice or stick with support the plant. this may provides it an area to climb also since flavorer plants are a kind of orchid and have vines.

2. the proper Location

The most important part of planting is providing an acceptable environment. as an example, you’ll leave your vanilla plant within the house during a typical setting while providing water and fertilizer.

In most cases, the plant will survive and do fine as a typical house plant. the matter with this is often the vanilla plant won’t bloom.

If the plant doesn’t bloom, there’s nothing to pollinate, and no vanilla pods will form. Your plant must be raised within the proper environment to encourage flowering.

The ideal location is one where the plant remains at temperatures on the brink of or above 60°F. They like high humidity and bright, indirect sunlight.

If you don’t sleep in the proper environment, this will be accomplished within a greenhouse, a sunroom, or during a warm room under grow lights. Everyone’s situation is different.

Caring for Your Vanilla Plant

Vanilla plants have specific needs that have got to be met for the plant to thrive and produce. Here’s what you would like to offer your vanilla plant:

1. Water

Vanilla plants require water but take care to make sure they don’t become overwatered. the highest layer of the soil should be moist but don’t water to the purpose where the whole pot of soil is soaked.

This will make the roots too wet, and they’ll rot. It’s also an honest idea to softly mist the plant with water from a sprig bottle a day or every other day to stay it moist enough to be happy while also preventing overwatering.

2. Fertilizer

Vanilla plants should be fertilized once every 2 weeks during the spring and summer months. Use an orchid fertilizer and follow the instructions on the package.

3. Pollination

To produce beans, the plant will be got to be pollinated.

Unfortunately, the bees that pollinate vanilla plants within the wold are almost extinct. For this reason, you can’t depend upon the bees around your home. You’ll need to pollinate the plant yourself, or it won’t produce.

You hand pollinate by removing pollen from the feminine a part of the plant referred to as the anther. you’ll use a toothpick to gather the pollen from this section of the plant.

You’ll apply the pollen to the male a part of the plant referred to as the stigma. The stigma features a shield around it which can got to be peeled back to access it.

The pollinating process is best if performed within the morning hours. When you’ve completed the method you ought to begin to ascertain pods forming within every week .

If you don’t, the method didn’t work, and you’ll need to try again. Once the pods are forming, it takes approximately 9 months for them to be complete.

Problems When Growing Vanilla

Vanilla plants have only a couple of pests and diseases to observe for when growing them.

1. Root Rot

One of the foremost significant hardships in caring for a vanilla plant is ensuring you don’t overwater it. Because it’s a kind of orchid, they like dry spells between watering sessions.

If the roots are too wet, they’ll rot. Keep this in mind when watering your plant or if you start to ascertain signs of struggle together with your plant.

2. Slugs and Snails

The only pests which will attempt to bother your vanilla plant are snails and slugs. They wish to munch on the roots and leaves of the plant.

If they’re a priority for you, consider sprinkling diatomite round the base of the plant, or dregs or crushed eggshells. this could slice the pests as they crawl around your plant.

Companion Plants for the Vanilla Plant

Every plant has certain plants that they thrive when planted near. the simplest companions for a vanilla plant are:

  • Banana plant
  • Arrowroots

Vanilla plants even have specific plants that ought to be avoided. These plants are

  • Peas
  • Beans

Harvesting Vanilla Beans

There are specific steps you’ll get to follow when harvesting your vanilla beans to make sure you’ll use them correctly. you ought to even be conscious of the way to store the vanilla beans properly. Here’s how you harvest and store your vanilla beans:

1. Harvest at the Right Time

Harvesting vanilla beans is perhaps the simplest part of the growing process. you’ll use scissors or shear to detach the pods from the plant.

You’ll know they’re ready for harvest when the ideas of the pods begin to show yellow.

2. Sweat the Beans

When the pods are harvested, they’ll get to undergo a process mentioned as sweating. Wrap the beans with a heavy blanket or towel and leave them outside during a dry location for 3-4 days.

After the times have passed, check the beans. they ought to be a light-weight shade of brown.

3. Sun Dry the Beans

Once the beans have sweat for a short time, it’s time to sundry them. Leave the beans within the sun for a month. When the method is complete, they ought to have an equivalent texture as leather and have turned a dark brown.

When they’ve achieved this look and feel, they’re ready for storage or use.

4. Store Properly

Storing vanilla beans is straightforwardthey ought to be stored in an air-tight container in your pantry, cellar, or basement.

The idea is to store them in a neighborhood where it’s cool, dark, and dry. Check them occasionally to form sure they’re still holding up and not developing mold.

Be sure you don’t store your vanilla beans within the refrigerator. this may cause your beans to dry out and also cause excess moisture to rise to the surface.

When this happens , the beans will begin to mold and not be of any use. After quite 9 months of labor to boost the plant and harvest the pods, you don’t want to lose them to mold.

Well, you now know the whole process of raising vanilla beans from growing to caring, harvesting the pods, and storing them too.

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