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Growing Vanilla Planifolia

This is a discussion on Growing Vanilla Planifolia within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; Ok, I have buried another dead vanilla vine. I have been treating it pretty much ...

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  1. #1
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    Default Growing Vanilla Planifolia

    Ok, I have buried another dead vanilla vine.

    I have been treating it pretty much like my other orchids, but obviously that is not working, since this is my third failure.

    What does Vanilla want from us? How should we treat her? Soil? Bark? Water?

    Is Vanilla more of a terrestrial or more of an epiphyte?

  2. #2
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    I have a vanilla tahitensis that doesn't do much during the year, except in the summer months when it grows pretty fast. I recently moved it from traditional bark mix to S/H clay pellets and brought it closer to the window so it gets more light just to see if it would trigger more "activity" ... ( I broke it in half in the process! ) I think they start off as terrestrial and after a certain length, they grow as epiphytes and the terrestrial roots rot naturally ... Don't quote me on this though, I am no vanilla expert!

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    I did a little search. I know how ours grows, but did not know the exact cultural requirements that the experts use. SO, here is what an expert has to say.

    LIGHT: 2500-4000fc. Growers differ in the amount of light Vanilla neds to be healthy. They recommend anything from very bright light to filtered or diffused light to partial or (50%) shade. Some growers believe that bright light is needed to initiate blooms, but commercial growers often grow plants under a rainforest canopy, which suggest rather low light. If a cultivated plant as been growing in the shade, light should be increased very gradually or the heavy leaves may burn. Growers suggest placing Vanilla at the south end of a greenhouse and allowing the vines to climb into the rafters. Air movement through the leaves will help prevent disease and sunburn. --Charles Baker

    TEMPERATURE: Throughout the year, days average 82-85F (28-29C), and nights average 68-73F (20-23C), with a diurnal range of 11-14F (6-8C). Because of the wide range in habitat elevations, Vanilla should adapt to conditions 6-8F (3-4C) cooler than those shown in the climate table, but the microclimate probably protects it from cold nights or extreme fluctuation between day and night temperatures. --Charles Baker

    HUMIDITY: 85-90% most of the year, dropping to 80-85% for about 3 months in late winter and early spring. WATER: Rainfall is heavy most of the year with a slightly drier month in late winter or early spring, but it is never truly dry. Cultivated plants should be watered heavily while actively growing, but drainage must be excellent and conditions around the roots should never become stale or soggy. Growers report that stressing a mature plant, when it is a least 10-12ft. (3-4m) long, by letting the plant get drier between waterings for a few weeks will often initiate blooms. A dry period will not initiate blooms if the plant is immature. Water should be reduced anytime light is low or temperatures are cool. --Charles Baker

    FERTILIZER: 1/4-1/2 recommended strength, applied weekly. Many growers use a balanced fertilizer all year, but prefer a higher nitrogen fertilizer during periods of active growth. Charles Baker
    That said, we grow ours on the Southeast side of our greenhouse. It is potted in potting soil and gets watered twice a week during the summer and once a week during the winter. It gets feed along with the rest of the plants an alternating feed. (Usually every two or three weeks)

    Ours blooms regularly every year. The vine grows up the side of the GH wall and into the rafters. Its roots attach to the wooden studs that hold up the GH.

    Good luck.

    Cheers,
    BD

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    TY. If I see a good sized plant for sale, I might give it another try.

    BD, when yours blooms, do you also get many pods? Have you ever processed them? How old is your vine?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dsm View Post
    TY. If I see a good sized plant for sale, I might give it another try.

    BD, when yours blooms, do you also get many pods? Have you ever processed them? How old is your vine?
    We grow in a greenhouse, so the blooms do not get pollinated - therefore, no beans. The vine is several years old. If I think about it tomorrow, I will go out and snap a photo.

    Cheers,
    BD

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    Hi Denise. I just finished spraying in the GH and remembered to snap a couple of shots of the vanilla for you. It is hard to see it very well since it is has become mostly a jungle in this corner. Here it is anyway.

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    Cheers,
    BD

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    TY, that is very encouraging! Are those long grey roots also part of the vine, in the right side of the first photo?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dsm View Post
    TY, that is very encouraging! Are those long grey roots also part of the vine, in the right side of the first photo?
    The long grey roots are actually belonging to a vanda. Also in the photo is a reed epi that is a mass of keikis and roots. (Way out of control). As I mentioned, that corner of the GH is a jungle. lol.

    The vanilla roots are under each leaf. They are thin, brown and wirey. They are anywhere from 3 to 10 inches long each and grow in clumps.

    Cheers,
    BD

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    *LOL* you should get some indie filmmakers together and do a new version of "Little Shop of Horrors"

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    I think Vanilla would be considered more terrestrial than epiphyte..or maybe both. I grow mine outdoors and the roots go out 2 or 3 meters from the plant into the bark it was planted in. I have it growing up a support and it flowers twice a year. Vanilla flowers only stay open a few hours and they can not be fertilized by themselves or an insect (one in Mexico, but it does like 1% of flowers;they need help). So whether in a green house or outside, you have to pollinate them. I do it and get several kilos of ''beans'' every year which I dry and use in cooking. The drying procedures depends on which type of orchid you are growing. But if you don't figure out how to pollinate them, the flower will just fall off and you have in essence a green vine.

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