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Vanilla

Vanilla planifolia

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A wonderful climbing orchid which produces the valuable vanilla pods. Grows well onto trees, poles or fold it down to your height to be reached when harvesting. One of the most popular flavours in the world. Vanilla was used by the Aztec people in Mexico to flavour cocoa. Vanilla is used in perfumes, medications and culinary.

Planning

Difficulty
Advanced
Flowering time
Spring, Summer
Fruiting time
Autumn

Harvesting

After harvest, fresh vanilla pods have no aroma. It must be cured for 4-5 months - a process of drying and fermenting pods, which encourages secretion of vanillin in tiny crystals on the outside of the pod and add the popular vanilla fragrance.

Propagation

Cuttings
Cutting is placed on sphagnum moss and kept damp in a warm/humid environment until new growth starts from one of the nodes.
Seed
Sow mature fresh seed on moss and keep warm, moist and in a humid enviroment.

Special features

Attracts useful insects
Tiny bee (Melipone), is attracted to teh flowers.
Indoor plant
The orchid is a potentially massive vine but in home cultivation the plant will likely only grow a fraction of its potential. The plant still needs special conditions to thrive. Provide temperatures of 30 C in the day and 10 C at night. Growing vanilla orchid in a hot house is ideal but you need to add extra humidity and air circulation. The home bathroom is a good place for humidity and heat as long as you have a fan for air circulation. Medium lighting to partially shaded areas provided the best situation for vanilla orchid care.
Pot plant
Plant into bark and terrestrial orchid mixture, ensuring free drainage.

Geography

Origin
Mexico and Central America.
Natural climate
Tropical, sub-tropical

Environment

Light
Full Sun, Partial Sun
Soil moisture
Moist
Soil type
Loam
Soil PH preference
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Frost hardiness
Tender

Uses

Medicinal
Has antimicrobial and antioxidant activities.
Edible
Tiny seeds, whole fruit, powder or fruit extract of vanilla are used as flavouring agents in food, confectionery and sweet foods to reduce the amount of sugar. Important ingredients in perfumery.

Personality

Family
Orchidaceae
Flower colour
, Green, Yellow
Scent
Strong

Companion plants

Generally planted into their own pots, but group with similar orchids and those with similar needs.
Moth orchid
Moth orchid
Phalaenopsis spp.

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