Best Guide to Vanilla Bean Orchids Growing & Caring

7 Min Read

The vanilla bean orchids (Vanilla plantifolia) that produce the plant’s seed pods are generally referred to as “vanilla” because they are the source of natural vanilla flavouring, which is frequently used in desserts and drinks.

Although glossy green vines are visually stunning plants in their own right, propagating blossoms and producing the necessary seeds for vanilla production can be difficult.

Vanilla Bean Orchid Overview

Genus NameVanilla planifolia
Common NameVanilla Bean Orchid
Additional Common NamesVanilla vine, Vanilla
Plant TypeHouseplant, Vine
LightPart Sun
Height4 to 10 Feet
Width4 to 8 inches
Flower ColourWhite, Yellow
Foliage ColourBlue/Green
Zones10, 11
PropagationStem Cuttings

Where to Plant Vanilla Bean Orchids

Zones 10–11 are suitable for growing vanilla bean orchids outdoors. The majority of these exquisite tropical plants are grown in greenhouses located in colder regions.

Nevertheless, to maintain the proper levels of light, humidity, and temperature for these delicate plants, home growers need to be watchful. With the proper maintenance, vanilla bean orchids can be cultivated indoors. Because they grow beneath the cover of trees, wild vanilla orchids must be protected from the intense, blazing sun.

When planted outside, plants can be covered by protective awnings or trees, which give orchids’ delicate leaves a little shadow. Bright, indirect light is perfect for indoor plants and can be obtained through growing lights or windows facing east or west.

When and How to Plant Orchids with Vanilla Beans

If vanilla bean orchids are allowed to grow outside where you live, plant them in the spring in a protected location with soft light. A robust structure to develop on as the orchid matures can be provided by placing it under a tree or trellis.

Any time of year can be used to cultivate indoor vanilla bean orchids in greenhouses or pots. Half-fill a pot with a diameter of 10 to 12 inches that drains well with an orchid mixture. Choose a new pot for the orchid, add more orchid mix to it, and include a little trellis or other climbing support for the new orchid.

Vanilla Bean Orchid Care

Vanilla orchids thrive in bright, shaded areas with high humidity levels. To replicate its original jungle habitat, it is ideal to utilize a combination of irrigation, calming mists, and temperature controls.

In its natural habitat, a mature vanilla orchid vine can grow to be 75 to 100 feet long. But you may limit your vine to only eight or ten feet in length in a greenhouse.

Training a vine horizontally, as opposed to vertically, allows it to grow more vines in less space. A simple timber frame is stronger than a lattice.


The ideal growing environment for vanilla bean orchids is shade, yet they may withstand brief morning sun exposure when exposed to indirect light. Steer clear of windows facing south and west, as this species finds the intense afternoon sun to be too harsh in these areas.


Vanilla beans require a mixture of half orchid bark and half sphagnum peat moss. You can alternatively use a complete pot of bark if you’d rather not use moss or if it’s not available where you live. Verify that the mixture and pot drain correctly.

Try not to use a potting mix that is of lower quality, as it will damage your plant. Keep the pH between 6.6 and 7.5. You will eventually be able to harvest vanilla if you provide your vine with the right environment to grow in.


The growth medium and the wooden trellis framework must remain damp when watering a vanilla bean orchid since the orchid is developing “air roots” that take moisture from the surrounding air. To avoid root illnesses, let the potting mix dry out a little bit between watering, but keep the surrounding humidity high.

Temperature and Humidity

One of the most difficult aspects of caring for vanilla bean orchids is keeping the surrounding environment at the proper temperature and humidity levels. While plants thrive best in daylight temperatures between 80°F and 85°F and in night-time temperatures between 60°F and 65°F, vanilla bean orchids can withstand temperatures above 60°F.

Since these plants don’t tolerate cold well, drafts should be kept at bay. Vanilla bean orchids require 70–80% humidity and wet air, just like most other orchid species. If you place the orchid on a pebble tray or next to a humidifier, you should be able to maintain consistently high humidity levels without misting it.


Vanilla beans benefit from a weekly application of 30-10-10 NPK, a highly diluted high-nitrogen fertilizer, when plants are actively growing. Fertilizer shouldn’t be applied to the soil until it is still damp, because doing so will damage the roots when the bark has dried.

To softly nourish your dormant orchid, use a highly diluted orchid fertilizer (20-20-20 NPK). When the soil is still damp, especially in the spring and summer, when there is more regular watering, remember to fertilize your vanilla.


When grown under the right conditions in a greenhouse, your orchid plant can reach a maximum length of 10 feet. Pollination is a crucial step in the harvesting of vanilla, even though this species does not require trimming to yield such robust pods.

But it’s easy to trim these plants to whatever length suits you if they get too big for your space. Using a clean, sharp pair of pruning or gardening shears, cut the vine to the desired length after selecting a section beneath a growth node. Some cuttings can be reproduced in the future to produce new plants if desired.


This plant is propagated using cuttings. Use long sleeves and gloves for this, as the plant’s oils can burn the skin. Cut sections with two to three nodes that are 6 to 8 inches long. Ensure that there is enough stem at the bottom to force it into the ground.

At least one inch should be left above the top node. Each cutting should be placed in a smaller area with the same kind of potting medium as the original plant.

Give the planting material just enough moisture with water, and then allow it to rest in an orchid-friendly environment. Remove the cuttings to search for roots as soon as the top of the plant begins to grow, usually a few inches. Congratulations if the root growth is abundant! You’ve been successful in growing vanilla orchids.


It takes three to five years for orchids to mature from cuttings to bloom output; thus, harvesting vanilla from them requires patience. Using a chopstick, manually pollinate the blossoms within 12 hours of the vine being established and blooming.

Take the pollen from one bloom’s stamen and deposit it on the stigma of another blossom. In less than a week, little green pods will begin to form, and in nine to ten months, these pods will be ready for harvest.

Your three-year-old vanilla orchid should yield green bean-like pods in October through March if pollination is successful. At least six inches should be the minimum length of a good-quality pod. Vanilla beans that are sold at markets cost more because of the labour-intensive curing procedure, which includes drying and sweating.

You should let the now-brown and shrivelled pods dry for a further three months in a dark, dry location after this sweating process. The cured beans keep well for an infinite period when kept sealed.

Potting and Repotting Vanilla Bean Orchid

Once its epiphytic roots take hold firmly on the medium of you’re choosing (typically a wooden structure or a lattice), your vanilla bean orchid won’t require repotting.

On the other hand, equal portions of potting mix and orchid bark can be used to pot propagated orchid stems. Select a pot, such as one made of terracotta, that permits drainage and airflow to the roots.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Vanilla bean orchids are susceptible to root rot in the high-humidity environment that they require. Because rot can be prevented by maintaining a balance between high humidity and constant air circulation, greenhouses that mimic tropical environments are recommended for this plant.

These plants may also be attacked by mealybugs and spider mites. Using horticultural oil sprays is the most efficient way to eradicate these pests. You may also get rid of mealybugs by wiping them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Common Problems with Vanilla Bean Orchid

The very difficult care of vanilla bean orchids causes growers to frequently run into problems with this species. You might experience these things.

Brown or Crispy Roots

If your vanilla bean orchid is submerged, you might observe symptoms that are comparable to those of overwatering, but the roots of the plant will not look the same. Your plant is drying out if its roots get crispy and dry and start to turn brown. Give the plant lots of water and raise the humidity level, paying specific attention to the roots.

Scorched Leaves

This type of orchid is quite prone to sunburn; hence, exposure to direct sunlight can easily result in sunburn. If the leaves on your plant begin to crisp or burn, it’s getting too much light. Move your orchid to an area with filtered sunlight.

Leaves Turning Yellow

When vanilla bean orchids receive excessive water, yellowed leaves are a regular issue. Indications such as withering roots, wilted stems, or drooping flowers may also be present. Root rot can be avoided in healthy plants by ensuring enough drainage and air circulation.


How are orchid pods used for vanilla bean cures?

When selecting ripe seedpods, place them in direct sunlight or under a heat lamp during the day, and then cover them firmly with fabric at night to prevent condensation.

After wrapping the beans, place them in an airtight container and keep them warm for a few weeks. After the pod becomes shrivelled and dark, remove its wrapping and keep it in a cool, dark area for a month.

How difficult is it to grow an orchid with vanilla beans?

Novice gardeners shouldn’t grow vanilla bean orchids. An expert gardener with prior orchid cultivation knowledge should ideally be the person growing the orchids at home.

What is the best way to encourage blooming in my vanilla orchid?

Vanilla bean orchids require at least two to three years to reach full maturity and flower. By giving your plants the ideal conditions for light, moisture, temperature, and humidity, you can raise the likelihood that they will blossom. Using diluted liquid organic fertilizer regularly can also be beneficial.


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