How to Grow Vanilla

Views: 16275 | Last Update: 2009-05-02
How to Grow Vanilla - Provided by eHow
When growing vanilla, be sure to keep the plant in a warm environment and remember to pollinate the first flowers. Grow vanilla through patience and warm climates with tips from an experienced gardener in this free video on gardening and growing herbs. View Video Transcript

About this Author

Yolanda Vanveen

Video Transcript

Hi, this is Yolanda from vanveenbulbs.com. And in this segment, we're going to learn all about how to grow vanilla. So vanilla is a plant that's actually pretty new to the European herb trade because it was found in Mexico. It was grown only in Mexico by the Aztecs until they were found by the Spanish and they brought back to Europe. So now, a vanilla plant is an orchid, and it's the only vining orchid in the world. It makes a beautiful vine. And when I was in Tahiti, they were on the side of the road everywhere, growing along the fences and they had beautiful yellow orchid flowers all over them, and they're just one of the most beautiful plants that I've ever seen in the whole world. So I'm always fascinated about plants and how they adjust to being grown in different parts of the world because Crocosmia are from South Africa and they have the sun birds to pollinate them in South Africa. And when they come to the Americas, they have the hummingbirds to pollinate them. So the vanilla plant is asexual, and that means it has the male and female organs together. And in the flower part, the male and female organs are separated. They're next to each other, but they have a little part of a flower in between them. So the bee would pollinate the plant by going into one part and to the other part. Well, when they try to grow it in other parts of the world, they found that they didn't pollinate and they never got fruits. And someone realized along the line that all you have to do is take some of the pollen off of the male part and just rub it onto the female part. And that way, your plant will flower and then produce a beautiful seapod, and that makes...a seapod is what makes the vanilla. It's ground up, and then it makes beautiful, gorgeous, yummy vanilla. So it's a little bit of a challenge to grow vanilla, but I know some of my friends and one of the growers at the farmer's market -- and he says he's very successful -- he just plants the orchids along fencing in the greenhouse and they cannot go below 50 degrees. So if you live in a cold climate, you've got to keep them indoors in the winter and then just grow them outdoors over the summer. But in warm climates, you can leave them outdoors year-round. So you let them grow into a vine and it takes about 3, 4, even 5 years to flower, so you can't be frustrated or you can't be impatient. And once you get those first flowers, you make sure and pollinate them. You've got to rub the pollen onto the female part of it for it to produce a fruit. And it'll grow into a vine that's 10, 20 feet long, and it's a beautiful plant, whether it's grown in a greenhouse in colder climates or outside in warmer climates. And it's a plant that you can have lots of joy in growing.