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Vanilla Orchid

Posted by slogal CA z10a/Sunset 16 (My Page) on
Thu, Dec 13, 12 at 18:09

Has anyone successfully grown a vanilla orchid outdoors in a zone similar to mine? I just received a small (5-6" long) Vanilla planifolia and plan to grow it in my enclosed patio where it will receive filtered light and be protected from the colder weather.

From my reading, it seems like overwatering may be the biggest danger. They seem to like a fast-draining soil mix and misting on their aerial roots. But I'd welcome any tips!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Vanilla Orchid

  • Posted by socal23 USDA10/Sunset23 (My Page) on
    Sat, Dec 15, 12 at 0:27

AHS, Botanica and Flora say it can't handle temperatures below about 40. However, AHS describes it as "intermediate to warm growing."

Some googling revealed the following:

Vanilla chamissonis

Growing vanilla - help!

How do I grow vanilla bean?

So a close relative can survive in Southern California, I suspect a limiting issue may be its semi-epiphytic growth habit - it dies back from the base becoming fully epiphytic with age which may be problematic here. Unfortunately that doesn't answer your central issue which is whether the biggest limiting factor relating to cold is mechanical (freeze damage) or biochemical (certain metabolic processes can't occur below a certain temperature). If the former, then protecting it from frost will suffice, if the latter, it will require a heated space.


RE: Vanilla Orchid

Vanilla orchid is a true Zone 11 plant that is marginal even in the mildest spots of southern Florida. It really needs warm, humid nights, even in winter.
Due to the extremely long canes that it needs to produce before flowering it is difficult to grow even in a greenhouse since a flower pot is not sufficient to support its needs.

RE: Vanilla Orchid

Bring indoors,and place near a sunny window and never let go very dry. Use the patio May- November.
In a greenhouse,they are fast growers..but most plants are!

RE: Vanilla Orchid

  • Posted by slogal CA z10a/Sunset 16 (My Page) on
    Sat, Dec 15, 12 at 23:48

Thanks, all! I'm giving one to a friend who has commercial greenhouses, at least one of which is very warm and humid. She'll have a better shot than I, but it will be fun to try anyway.

RE: Vanilla Orchid

  • Posted by hoovb z9 Southern CA (My Page) on
    Sun, Dec 16, 12 at 18:03

I remember a lavish, glorious specimen in bloom in a glasshouse in Chicago, Illinois. It was certainly warm and humid in there.

RE: Vanilla Orchid

You must move the plant indoor when it goes below 55F.

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