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Vanilla Vine/Vanilla Orchid

Vanilla planifolia

Vanilla vines are tropical plants and need temperatures of between 25-30 degrees Celsius with optimal conditions that include 60 percent humidity. They will not perform well with temperatures below 20 degrees Celsius. Do not over-water, only water when the soil is dry to prevent root rot. A dry period is required for flowering when ready to flower in about 3 years.

The vanilla vine is a climbing orchid that fittingly produces elegant flavours of vanilla. These vines can take 3 – 4 years to produce beans.

Vanilla seedpods are long, thin and green in colour. These pods are odourless and flavourless and only develop their vanilla essence while curing. Cured vanilla beans appear dry, wrinkled and dark brown with that distinct sweet aroma of vanilla.

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SKU: VAN001 Categories: ,

Flowers on the vanilla pod will only last one day, and if left unpollinated they will fall off.

Although they are self fertile they require the transfer of pollen from one another to the stigma. This involves using a small splinter of wood or grass stem to carefully lift the rostellum (i.e flap) out of the way. You then need to press the overhanging anther against the stigma. This should be done as soon as the flower opens.


Place the plants in filtered sun or partial shade along vertical structures like a fence or trellis to support their climbing habit. Under a tree makes a lovely filtered protective position.


These plants can grow anything from 2-15 metres tall. The best spacing would be to plant vines 1-3 metres apart with rows being 2-3 metres away.

Soil Type

Vanilla orchids are semi-epiphytic, meaning they can be grown in soil or as air plants. Soil needs to be moist, and well drained. Use some mulch and thin sticks in the soil for drainage. The soil needs to be rich in calcium and potassium with a pH of between 6 and 7.


Only water when dry. Over-watering will cause root rot. Misting regularly with a spray bottle will help simulate the humidity of the tropics.


The living posts will need to be pruned once or twice a year. This will allow you to manage sunlight and shade during rainy and dry seasons.

Fertilising – Fertilise your orchid every two weeks with a diluted orchid fertilizer. A water-soluble 20-20-20 fertiliser is suitable for this kind of application.

Mulch – Mix mulch into the soil a few times every year for added nutrients.

Harvesting – After flowering and pollination the seedpods take 5 to 9 months to develop and ripen.

Curing vanilla beans

Fresh seedpods are heated during the day, then covered indoors overnight to “sweat”. This process can continue for a month which will stimulate the chemical reaction that gives vanilla its flavour.

After that they are stored for 3-6 months during which they will shrivel up, turn dark brown and develop their flavour. Store vanilla beans in an airtight container away from sunlight for 2 years.

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