Vanilla chamissonis Outdoors in Southern California
For a while now I've been informally asking around to see if anybody is growing Vanilla outdoors here in Southern California. A couple people said they knew of somebody growing Vanilla outdoors...but never saw any concrete evidence...until yesterday.
Yesterday I finally visited a friend in a local orchid society who has been growing Vanilla chamissonis outdoors for several years now. He only lives 5 minutes from me and as you can see his Vanilla is growing on the side of his house. This is the third time that it's climbed this high. When he took it down to share a cutting we observed that it was actually in bud for the first time since he's had it.
Vanilla chamissonis is from Brazil and it's not the species used for flavoring. There are around 110 species of Vanilla that are widely distributed in the tropics. Vanillas are exceptional orchids because they are hemiepiphytes...they start on the ground and climb up trees just like many Philodendrons do.
How many other species of Vanilla can be grown outdoors year around here in Southern California?
Most likely this Vanilla chamissonis came from a cutting of a plant that Paul Grip collected many years ago from Brazil. The SBOE has this orchid available for sale.
Here is a link that might be useful: Orchid Growers in Southern California