The vanilla genus includes about 110 species of orchids that are distributed throughout the world, especially in tropical regions. Among all these varieties, there is one that arouses our interest, the vanilla planifolia, which is the one that everyone knows and produces the spice that we all have tasted. Today we teach you how to grow it.
Vanilla is a climbing and epiphytic plant. The latter term refers to plants that use other plants as support (many orchids, ferns, mosses, etc.). Its origins belong to the American continent, collected by the Spanish conquerors in Mexico.
It is the only orchid that, in addition to its ornamental characteristics, is cultivated for nutritional reasons, and it is true that the spice collected from vanilla planifolia or other genera is widely used in cooking or perfumery. Whatever your interest in vanilla, it is best to know how it is grown.
Climate: An Important Factor
Its origins are tropical and it still has its roots. Its optimal growth temperature is between 20 and 30°C, without a big difference in temperature between day and night. This consideration severely conditions the cultivation, so if such high temperatures are not obtained in the region where you live, grow vanilla indoors.
There is also an important subject that we must comment on, the shade. Shade conditions of about 50% are necessary for effective vanilla growing. Ideally, in your garden, you grow it in the shade of large trees or in the shade generated by their stakes.
Too much light will cause its leaves to turn yellow and greatly reduce its growth.
What Characteristics Must the Soil Have to Accommodate This Crop?
The nature and structure of the soil are not of primary importance for vanilla cultivation. Only good permeability and loose soil conditions are necessary. In other words, compaction must be avoided at all costs.
This is where organic matter comes in, which must be present at all times during vanilla cultivation, and which will also prevent the soil from cracking, drying out and becoming compacted. As for the pH, slightly acidic soils favor it, with values between 6 and 7, perfect with the combined use of soil and compost.
Some Facts to Know Before Growing Vanilla
Vanilla needs janitors and we have already mentioned it under other terms (epiphyte). You can take advantage of the growth of other crops as guides or install posts, ropes or wires. In the first case, with live stakes, this promotes the shade of the crop, as well as providing organic matter, moisture, etc.
In the second case, you have a vanilla crop without competitors, on an open field, where you have to control the level of light the vanilla receives and the maintenance of the stakes.
How to Arrange the Stake
The growth of vanilla is very fast and in 1 month they can already reach a meter in height. Our objective is to place the stems as vertically as possible, guiding them through guide plants or poles with wires, like a climbing plant, and to prune them at the moment (winter) when their growth exceeds, 6 or 8 months before the flowering.
Irrigation and Fertilization of Vanilla
Avoid excessive irrigation or humidity, which favors the development of diseases.
In general, a stable humidity is maintained during its growth (except before the ripening of its fruits and before the bloom, which must be less) and it is sufficient.
It is necessary to supplement the nutritional needs of vanilla with organic matter.
If we have manure, it is necessary to add it once it is decomposed, and in general all the humus we have.
Many studies have confirmed that the best organic material to use for growing vanilla is plant compost, straight from your home composter.
How to Propagate Vanilla
Vanilla is usually propagated by seeds or cuttings. Normally, it is done with the help of stakes of 1 meter long or 1.5 meters, although its operation is difficult.
There you are! If you carefully follow those steps, you should easily be able to grow your vanilla. What do you already grow in your garden? Let us know in the comments below.