Most of the flavor of vanilla extract is made artificially, but the pods that contain the raw vanilla taste come from vanilla orchid plants. These orchid plants live to bloom once they are at least 3 years old, so if yours isn't flowering, there's likely something wrong with sun exposure, moisture, fertilization or humidity. Make some changes and you'll be rewarded with large white, yellow or green flowers.
Avoid over-watering vanilla plants. Many gardeners assume that they need to douse the orchids with water because they are tropical plants. While orchids do well in humid conditions, too much water can kill them. They should be watered only twice a week, until the soil is slightly moist. Use your finger to judge how much water to add.
Use a humidity meter to measure the amount of water in the air around the vanilla orchid plant. It needs 50 percent humidity to bloom. Air that's too dry will prevent it from doing so.
Fill a humidity tray with water if you need to increase the humidity. Put the vanilla plant in the tray. The water will evaporate, making the air more humid. Add more water to the tray as it disappears. The goal is to keep water in it at all times.
Give the vanilla plant the right lighting conditions to promote blooming. It needs sunshine during the day and darkness at night to facilitate blooming.
Look at the vanilla plant's leaf color. If the leaves are yellow or brown, the plant is not getting enough sun. If the leaves are dark green, the orchid is receiving too much sunlight. Adjust the location of the plant in either of these cases. Light green leaves indicate perfect light exposure for blooming.
Gauge the temperature around the orchid. It needs a daytime temperature of about 70 degrees F and a nighttime temperature of 60 degrees F. Set the thermostat in your home to these temperatures to get the plant to flower.
Feed the vanilla orchid plant monthly with a balanced liquid fertilizer (20-20-20 ratio). When the orchid grows more slowly, cut back feeding to every six weeks. If the vanilla plant isn't getting enough food, it will not bloom or only produce tiny blooms.