Vanilla planifolia – Vanilla (plant)
A tropical orchid species whose fermented fruit are one of the worlds most important flavourings, vanilla. Natural vanilla contains 35+ aromatic compounds, giving it a distinct advantage over synthetic vanilla. The fruit contain around 3.5% vanillin. Flowers are hand pollinated and the ripe fruit is fermented and cured for several months before being used.
Care and Cultivation of Vanilla planifolia
Vanilla planifolia does best in a humid hothouse or indoors in colder areas. Potting mix should be well drained, rich and moist; a mix between orchid and normal potting mix with sand, peat moss and perlite works well for us. The plant will need a trellis or preferably a tree trunk/dead log to attach its aerial roots to for support and also nourishment. In a large pot, place the log vertical, on one side of the pot and fill up remainder of pot with potting mix and then plant cutting next to the log. Tie it in place until it attaches to the log with its aerial roots. Part shade.They can be kept as pot plants in non-tropical areas and brought inside when the temperature drops below 10 degrees Celsius.
Commercial growers train plants in loops to encourage optimal flowering. Flowers need to be hand pollinated and fruit can take 5 to 7 months to ripen.
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