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Vanilla planifolia
(Vanilla orchid) sources

I am getting a lot of mail with this sort of question: "Hi - any info on how to acquire a vanilla orchid? I live in Norfolk, VA. Thanks, Cynthia".

Here are some possible Vanilla planifolia sources:

Oak Hill Gardens (Illinois)
Woodstream Orchids (Pennsylvania)
J & K Orchids
Petite Plaisance Orchids (California)
Sherwood Forest Orchids (Florida)
Glasshouse Works
Vanilla planifolia and V. planifolia variegata
JEM Orchids (Florida)
Miscellaneous species
Vanilla planiflora 'BRECKENRIDGE'
Vanilla sp.
(new thin-leaved Colombian species)
A World of Orchids (Florida)
V. planifolia cutting

SHERRY'S GREENHOUSE.comVanilla planifolia culture
(Vanilla planifolia sources on the home page)

I recently aquired the much coveted Vanilla, and I am having a hardtime finding info on keeping it really happy. Two real quick questions are, even though it is tropical, can it tolerate cooler winter nights (55-60), or do I have to put it in with the Iguana. I want to make my new baby happy enough to eventually occupy most of my house ( I love big plants ) . Can you help?


There is a fairly detailed article on Tahitian Vanilla in the magazine "Tropical Gardener" in their Winter 1998 issue. They have a website at ww.TropicalGardener.com (which has just about nothing in it, so don't bother to go there unless you want to contact them regarding a subscription).

Anyway, regarding your questions, the article indicates that nighttime temperatures should not fall below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. So, if that's what you consider cooler, the orchid should be fine. (I have a feeling that warmer is better though, as long as it's not extreme.) I have had good success with my orchids this year in keeping the temperature no cooler than 59 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

Other than that, high humidity is important, light shade or filtered light. Regular watering (but I would say let it dry out a bit between waterings to avoid the roots rotting) and weekly fertilizing using orchid fertilizer.

They like humusy well-draining soil and need a large pot and support for climbing. If really happy, Vanilla planifolia apparently can exceed 100 feet in length in just a few years. They flower only when mature, which takes a few years. My other sources don't get specific about V. planifolia culture, except to say that it's easy to grow.

You might want to look at the following pages:

Crop Plants and Exotic Plants - Vanilla, some cultural info here

Native Orchids of South Florida: Vanilla
Might find something useful here.

A web greenhouse tour of Bontanischer Garten
indicates that the Vanilla planifolia accompanies you the whole way (so it must be a large plant). Nothing specific here that I noticed.

Sixteen Orchid Species in One Day
Check through these field notes for clues as to what Vanilla planifolia might like in the way of habitat. Some of its relatives are discussed.

nice page of orchid photos, including V. planifolia

Market Asia agribusiness information "World Market for Vanilla" (detailed--for when you have a LOT of vanilla beans)

Dear Sherry,

I just finished going through your home page and I have to say that I loved it! There was alot of interesting information. I am 20 years of age and go to college out here in Los Angeles, CA. I would like to start my own greenhouse and grow plants from Madagascar. It is really for a school project that students have saved up the money for. The goal is to grow Madagascar Vanilla Bean here in Los Angeles. I was just wondering if it was possible until someone told me that if I visited the website, someone could help us out on this school project.

Money is of no significance, since there are about 120 people involved. The cost is going to be split up evenly. I would appreciate it if you could help me find out how to go about this. I have never done this event in my life and I was wondering if it is really possible. I guess it seems so unreal to do, but not according to what I have found out.

In conclusion, I would like to thank you for your help and cooperation in this matter and hopefully I can hear from you soon. I am counting on you to get this project launched as soon as possible! I have no idea as to what temperature and humidity levels are needed to grow the vanilla bean from Madagascar, but hopefully with your assistance, all will be solved in a short matter of time!

Thanks again,

Vanilla plants (Vanilla planifolia) are tropical orchids that grow in a vine form. The flowers develop into long narrow pods over several months. To develop the characteristic "vanilla" flavor, the pods must be cured by sun drying, oven heating, or in hot water. Vanilla extract is made by soaking vanilla bean pieces in hot alcohol.

Vanilla planifolia (there are many different species) can grow to quite a long vine (300 feet?!). The greenish flowers are about 2 inches across. The fruits (pods) are about 6 to 9 inches long.

Basic orchid culture applies here.

Specific conditions that Vanilla planifolia prefers:

Bright ligh
t (but not light coming through clear glass--too harsh)
Daytime temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit
Nighttime temperatures between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit
High humidity levels (65 to 80 percent)
Moist (but not soggy) rich potting medium.
Fertilize with each watering at one-half strength dilution
or less. As with any plant, fertilize less when it is not actively growing.
Don't forget to provide support for the vines.

Need more? Here's a list of links (including "vanilla bean art"). Have fun! I would appreciate an update on your project, if you have the time. Be sure to check the current Madagascar weather conditions. (links below):

Vanille de Madagascar
photo of flower & fruits

plants of Madagascar

vanilla bean art

World Country guide, Madagascar home page
Garden Web forum page

"Vanilla Planifolia ?Sources/Info?"
(You might find something useful here. Keep looking.)

nice Vanilla orchid flower image

Vanilla chemistry and a little history

an introduction to orchid culture

The Weather Underground - Madagascar weather in detail

Washington Post Madagascar weather page
(not as detailed & not as many cities included, but more recently updated)

Plant Viruses Online
Vanilla mosaic potyvirus
(One of several vanilla virus pages. Hopefully you won't need this! Interesting, nonetheless.)

Vanilla planifolia details (not culture, though)

Akerne Orchids
"Belgium's leading botanical orchid nursery..."
Has page of links to orchid sites and a Vanilla orchid page with clues to the conditions that they enjoy.

Accessing Your Finances
Look at your finances and save so that you'll have an available budget for you gardening needs.

Scrimp and Save
Cutting down on unnecessary spending is always a great learning opportunity and is great for your long term budget.

Bad Credit Auto Loans
Knowing when to finance something when you have below average credit can go a long way.

Budget Ideas
Saving money on your automotive needs and eating vegetables you grow in your own garden are great savings ideas.

Vanilla planifolia culture (Venger's Orchids)
LOTS of useful information here. (Aren't you glad you read to this point?)

Very good basic guide to orchid culture (Venger's Orchids)

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