Vanilla Orchid is not only famous for its beauty. With a little bit of luck, you can harvest fragrant and flavorsome vanilla pods from your orchid plant after a couple years of growing.
However, that reward comes with a catch: the orchid plant should be planted in a suitable condition and treated with proper care.
This article will tell you how to grow Vanilla Orchid on your own. It will cover all you need to know about planting Vanilla Orchid, starting from the plant requirements and care, to the harvesting procedure.
A. About Vanilla Orchid
Vanilla Orchid (Vanilla planifola) is originated from Mexico and discovered by the Aztec in the sixteenth century. It is classified under Orchidaceae family and acquires characteristics of a vine plant.
The plant has long leaves in lance shape that will climb up to the tree top in its growing state.
If you take good care of the plant for eight to nine months, Vanilla Orchid may start bearing flowers. The vanilla flower is six inches in size and comes with various colors, from white or cream to light green and greenish yellow.
In later months—or maybe a couple of years, the flowers will turn into longer pods consisting of vanilla beans that you can harvest.
Read also: Orchid Flower Meaning and Symbolism
B. Where to Grow Vanilla Orchid
The best place to grow Vanilla Orchid is in a greenhouse. If you don’t have one yet, you can place the orchid plant in a room with controlled heat and light.
The ideal temperature for growing Vanilla Orchid is 30 degrees Celsius during the day and 10 degrees Celsius at night. Moreover, in terms of the light, Vanilla Orchid grows best in a space that has bright natural light, but it should not be exposed into direct sunlight.
You can also grow Vanilla Orchid at home. However, when it serves as a houseplant, the orchid should be placed in a room that has good air circulation and a high level of humidity. In addition, the plant is best to be put in a room with provides medium light and partial shade of sunray.
C. How to Plant Vanilla Orchid: A Step-by-Step Guide
The first thing you need to do when growing Vanilla Orchid is choosing the best container. Choose a container or pot that has enough drainage holes at the bottom. Then, fill the half part of the pot with the terrestrial mixture of peat moss and fir bark
After the first step above is done, you can follow this step-by-step guide to cultivating the plant.
- Wear gloves, because the sap from Vanilla Orchid’s root and leaves may irritate your skin.
- Using a sanitized knife, cut off the bottom part of the orchid root. The part that should be removed is the lowest one-third of the root.
- Put the vanilla bean plant into a half-filled pot carefully.
- Fill the rest of the pot with the mixture of fir bark and soil. Make sure to cover the bottom half part of the orchid stem. Also, make certain that the stem is in a straight direction.
- Put a medium-height stake into a pot as well. The stake is useful for training the vine once the orchid grows taller. This step is actually optional and can be done later on when the orchid starts to grow twisting stems. Nevertheless, it is always better to be prepared.
D. Vanilla Orchid Care Guide
The basic rules of Vanilla Orchid care include proper watering and fertilizing. Water the plant regularly to keep its moisture at a balanced level. Don’t let the plant dry out for a long period of time.
In spite of it, the top part of the leaves (about 2-3 inches) should be left dry between watering. When the blooming season has come after eight months of planting, watering should be done every week or so when the plant dries entirely.
Moreover, you also need to fertilize Vanilla Orchid every week or two. Depending on the orchid’s seasonal growth, there are two types of fertilizer that you can use. When the plant grows actively, the fertilizer that should be used is a high nitrogen solution.
Meanwhile, a diluted orchid fertilizer is more recommended when the plant is not in an active growth period. Please not that you should never fertilize the dry orchid plant, otherwise its leaves and roots will decay.
E. How to Harvest the Pods from Vanilla Orchid
Vanilla orchid plants are the source of well-known vanilla beans. If you are lucky enough, the green pods or beans will start to appear after three years of growing. You can harvest them in season between October and March.
To get excellent vanilla beans for pie or other delicacies, more intensive care is needed after harvesting. During the day, the harvested beans should be exposed under the sun.
Meanwhile, they need to be wrapped in a cloth or blanket at night. Those procedures should be done every day for about six weeks. After that, you need to dry the beans for about twelve weeks before using them as a food ingredient.
F. Some Problems with Vanilla Orchid
Without proper care and careful attention, Vanilla Orchid is susceptible to pests, especially mealy bugs and spider mites. To protect the plant from pests or bugs, use insecticide every so often.
However, before using a certain brand of insecticide, make sure that it contains a safe chemical substance which won’t harm your plant.
In addition to pests, the plant’s root carries the risk of rotting if it is left in a low level of moisture. Because of this, annual repotting is highly recommended.
To move the orchid into a new pot, the preparation and procedures are still the same as when you start planting it. This time, however, you also need to examine the root in case you spot any sign of root decay.
That’s all you need to know regarding Vanilla Orchid plant and care guide. With the information above, you can start planting Vanilla Orchid on your own home or greenhouse.
Remember to take care of the plant with the best possible ways if you aim for getting vanilla pods and harvesting them. Even when you don’t get the best result, growing the orchid plant has so much fun, and you can still enjoy it for its attractive features.