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May 20, 2022 2 min read

Vanilla plantifolia or simply Vanilla is the source of one the worlds most popular scents and flavours. However, coaxing forth the creamy, green blooms required to produce the pod from which vanilla is extracted is sadly, unlikely to appear unless provided optimal growing conditions and care. A serious orchid enthusiast may be fortunate enough to enjoy the fruits of their labour while growing this orchid indoors. 

However, for more pedestrian houseplant enthusiasts, such as myself, the charming zig-zag growth of this glossy green vine will be a welcome challenge to my houseplant collection regardless of whether it produces a vanilla pod. 

An epiphytic tropical plant this orchid like many of its species grow on large host trees where it can take advantage of falling leaf matter and nutrients without harming the host. As with all orchids the vanilla orchid will respond well to higher humidity and warmth (a minimum temperature of15 degrees at night is required for healthy growth). If you have a greenhouse or even an indoor tropical cabinet your vanilla orchid will flourish if kept in these steady and cosy conditions.

Light: Preferring a shaded (bright but dappled light) warm spot in their native habitat they will tolerate some morning light when kept indoors. Just be sure to adjust their position as the warmer months approach to keep them out of harsh direct sunlight. Due to their higher humidity requirements, clustering a vanilla orchid amongst other tropical plants will will assist with maintaining its local humidity. 

Watering: As with all orchids a regular watering needs to be maintained. However, 'regular' may not mean frequent and humidity and watering should not be confused. Susceptible to root rot, your vanilla orchid will want to dry out slightly between watering and won't like soggy feet. Ideally, growing your orchid on a moss pole or sphagnum moss wrapped trellis will assist with its need for humidity and reduce the risk of spider mite attack. 

Other things to consider; maintaining good air flow around your vanilla orchid is critical to prevent rot and lightly fertilising with orchid fertiliser during the warmer months will see more vigorous growth of this vine and you may even coax a bloom to appear.

The vanilla orchid is definitely not the easiest of houseplants and may be a challenge for novice houseplant hobbyists but for those who have some experience with orchids and the eager, the reward of keeping these orchids will be worth the effort, especially if you can procure yourself a sweetly scented pod! 


*Image via Wikipedia