Vanilla (Vanilla Bean)
Vanilla (Vanilla Bean) is one of the most widely used flavourings in this world! It is in everything from food to fragrance! It comes from the seed pods of a type of Orchid. Vanilla Planifolia is native to Mexico and Central America, and is a climbing vine which can grow up to 25 metres in length.
The flowers, which ultimately produce the Vanilla Bean pods that we all know and love, are tubular and greenish yellow in colour. Vanilla has very specific pollination requirements and will need either to be hand pollinated or introduced to a certain type of bee!
Vanilla is known to be a fussy plant to grow, but once you find the right spot it is fast growing and very low maintenance.
Vanilla will grow best in a well draining but moist, rich soil. A dedicated Orchid mix is best. It will need support to grow up on, so provide either a fence, trellis or similar. Plant up into 200mm pot first, and use a Teepee of 3 barky sticks for support. The Vanilla roots love growing into the bark and it provides great support. I have some growing up the bark of some shady trees too.
Vanilla plants do not like to grow in full sun. Provide a protected spot with some filtered light for best growing results. It is native to tropical places so it likes to be kept warm and humid, with plenty of moisture in the air. Stressing it by drying it out completely for 6-8 weeks, mimicking its natural environment, will help the flowers to form.
Give your Vanilla a helping hand with a light feed of organic Orchid feed a couple of times a month during the spring and summer. We have also had great results adding a good organic fertilizer to the soil, such as Organic Xtra.
Vanilla won’t tolerate cold conditions; it likes to be warm and humid so if you live in cooler areas then you will need to keep your Vanilla indoors or in a greenhouse. Filtered sunlight and warmth are key elements to a happy Vanilla.
Vanilla plants for sale: Approx 20cm tall
The roots of Vanilla orchids are quite fragile, so please be very gentle when you upwrap them.