Vanilla Planifolia Care

gardenathome(9B/10)July 29, 2010

Hi, everyone. We were wondering if someone can please explain how best to train or trellis a vanilla orchid. We're not familiar with epis (sp?) and how to care for them as they grow their aerial roots.

How do we provide the water and fertilizer to the aerial roots, do we mist them? How often? If they take in water and fertilizer via the aerial roots, would it be safer to use wood stakes or pvc pipes?

Thanks alot!!! :-)

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It's an epiphyte as are most orchids commonly seen. It probably has roots in a pot but likes to get most of it's nourishment from the aerial roots. Mist, or better yet water it once a day, add 1/2 strength fertilizer once a week. It will climb on whatever there is available so choose what you like best, the plant does not care. I have had one bloom that was less than 6' long but most need to be quite big before flowers are produced.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 9:38AM
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Hi, Nick! Thank you so much!

Since we would like to grow one of these indoors for vanilla beans, is it safe to use pvc pipes with edibles? Sorry just wanted to make sure! :-)


    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 3:29AM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

A lot of people use PVC for trellises, so it may be relatively safe. But CPVC would be safer since it's designed for carrying potable water. The only downside is that you typically can't find sizes larger than 3/4", but you shouldn't need anything that large for an orchid.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 10:31AM
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The difference between PVC and CPVC is that CPVC can be used for hot water, reg PVC will eventually melt and leak. It's also 3 times more expensive. Use reg PVC it's perfetly safe or don't use anything, the plant is resourceful and will latch onto something.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 2:13PM
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richardol(Santa Royale CA)

I use a wooden dowel inside 3/4" PVC to make it more rigid. Not all pieces, just the ones that are long. Wrap with tape on the ends so the dowel doesn't rattle so much.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 12:09AM
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Vanilla is a very fragile plant. It breaks real easily. So don't try twisting it or force it. It only grows from the tip. You break the tip and it stops growing at that point. I had one growing in my solarium from one skylight to the next. It was over 30 feet long. When trying to force it to the next skylight I broke it. Growth stopped at that point. It did put out another branch but it was like 6 feet back from the end. The growth continued for that branch 6 feet back. The tip was about 18 inches long I was able to root that piece. When we had to paint my solaruim I had to take it down, it broke into about 10 pieces. I have my vanilla growing in a nylon mesh screen formed into a log and filled with spagnum. The aerial roots grow around it thru it. Some of the aerial roots are 2 feet long. When I had the plant growing across the ceiling the aerial roots were 8 and 10 feet long. They were so long they came down and rooted into some of the plants I had on the windowsill.
Your biggest problem is going to be getting it to flower. The flower only last less than a day and it has to be manually polinated. If you want beans I suggest you go out and buy them.
After the flower is pollinated you should have a bean in 6 weeks. then it needs another 6 to 10 months to mature. Capsules must be harvested when they turn yellow. First step in the process is to plunge pods in boiling water to kill any diseases mold or fungus. Then dried in the sun.
Then sealed in a container for 3 months Need I contunue. There is more to the process. Go out and buy your pods.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 4:17PM
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Ron is right about the difficulty in getting the actual vanilla bean - there is only about a 15 minute "window" each day when the new flowers can be pollinated, so you would have to "do it every day". One of my friends is on his second round of producing beans - first was 5-6 years ago. His plant is massive, and grows throughout a very large geodesic dome GH. If you read up on the bean production, apparently they are dried, then steam sweated, dried some more, fermented, etc.
Though my pal said he just picked them at the right time and hung them all inside the house to dry; said he did not notice an appreciable difference in his and the commercial vanilla (and said that his home smelled fantastic).
Homemade vanilla extract: take a vanilla bean, whack it a whole bunch of times with a hammer or mallet, and add to about 6 oz. of vodka or rum (rum gives a more complex, sweeter product). Allow to steep, in the dark, for about 6-8 months. Makes a very nice holiday gift.
Vanilla flowers, which no one mentioned, are really nothing to rave about - rather unspectacular.
Cheers - Nancy

Here is a link that might be useful: some vanilla culture links

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 6:03PM
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Hi, everyone! Wow, thank you soooo much for all of your help! We expected it to be somewhat difficult to be able to grow the vanilla orchid for the beans but it sounded like an interesting project. :-) And all this information really helps us out.

We wanted to be sure to use the proper materials to make the trellis because it would be even harder to switch it after the orchid grows...

As for the flowers, we didn't realize the window to manually pollinate them was so short! Thought it would be at least for a day! :-) Interesting.

Thanks, everyone for your kind help!!! :-)

Ps. Ron, if we do happen to break the tip, it will at least branch out somewhere else, correct? :-) Is that guaranteed? Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 7:05PM
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When I broke my tip the vine finally branched out. It had to be about 6 feet back from the end. I don't remember how long before branching. I don't think it was too long like maybe a month. When we painted the room and the vine got all broke up. I don't remember any of the segments producing a tip. I only keeped two segments for my self and gave the rest away. My segments finally dried up and I threw them out. I don't think any of my friends had any luck with them. Good luck on your attempts to grow beans. Your biggest problem is getting it to flower. My vine that was over 30 feet long never did flower. Or at least I never seen them. The flower last less than a day. I might have missed it.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 4:45PM
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Hi. I have a Vanilla Planifoia, my second, and the exact same thing is happening. The information I received said to water from the top. I did, and the top rotted, and the rot is crawling down the stem. The first plant it killed. That was in my greenhouse in a dry climate (28 percent humidity outside.) Now I'm in a much wetter climate (Seattle area) and the exact same thing is happening. How do these things survive in the wild if they can't get water on the top, or else it kills them?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 5:35AM
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Ugh. I'm done with these things. What a ripoff. 16 bucks for this lousy plant. It's outside in the 45 degree rain. If it lives it lives. If it doesn't then fine.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 5:45PM
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Easy to grow, get a vanilla cutting about 20 inch long, break of two leaves in the middle. Now the bottom of the cutting must not be buried, basically you are burying the cutting in a U-shape in the ground or potting mix, use what ever method you want your vanillin to grow on. Water once a day. Once your vanilla begins to root out and clings on to what materials you are using, it'll do the rest itself. The flowering part, well, you will have to wait at least 1 and half to 3 years before it can flower. Once mature, do not spray water on the vines. I don't know much about vanilla on the indoor side of things, but outdoor, she has to go through a dry season for three months, that's the secret of getting your vanilla to flower. The rest is what past postings have stated.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 7:59AM
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Vanilla is very easy to grow if you have the climate. Most people who have problems with it don't have the warmth and humidity. Cold humidity/wet will rot them, warm without humidity will dry them out. So if nature's not doing it for you, then you have to work on making the conditions right yourself.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 8:24PM
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I have a vanilla orchid that a bug keeps getting into the growing tip. It is creating small horizontal lines at approx. 5mm apart and as such the growth is then stopping. Anyone know what it is and what to do about it??

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 2:17AM
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