Do you enjoy the taste of vanilla? Have you ever wanted to grow your own vanilla beans at home? Well, it is not as difficult as many people think.
With the right plant and the right climate and care you can grow vanilla beans at home.
There are two ways that a person can grow their own vanilla beans. You will need to create a warm, tropical environment to get the best results. Vanilla plants can be grown from cuttings or seeds but the most reliable and best way to grow your own vanilla beans is to buy a small vine, about 3 to 5 years old, from a specialised grower.
Where can I buy a vanilla vine?
Vanilla vines tend to be quite specialised and they are not often found at general garden centers or stores.
Reliable suppliers of good quality vanilla plants can be found online and there are some good options that I’ve found on Amazon which you can see here.
What sort of climate do vanilla vines need?
Vanilla plants need a warm temperatures, around 70 to 90 degrees fahrenheit for best results.
They will tolerate cooler temperatures but these will slow down growth and will affect the vine’s ability to flower and produce vanilla seeds.
You should try to keep the vine in a humid environment, they do best in around 80% humidity. If this is difficult to achieve then regular spraying with warm water on a fine mist may help.
- You will be receiving one plant bare-root 4 – 6 inches in height
- This orchid is a tropical plant which requires a warm humid climate. It is intolerant of frost. Best growing temperatures are in the area of 80-85 degrees F. in daytime and 60-65 degrees F. at night. Best location is in bright shade with tolerance for some early morning sun.
- Average Mature Height: 10 – 15 ft.
- Light: Full to partial sun
- Soil: Peat, or loam
What sort of soil do vanilla plants need?
Vanilla vines can be grown in potting soil that is enriched with extra nutrients.
They like a loose, well-drained medium but not one that is too sandy or it will drain too fast and dry out the vine.
It’s best to use a mix of around two thirds organic material (such as peat moss) and one third compost.
To this you can add a slow release fertilizer, or use fish emulsion and seaweed extract every two weeks to keep the plant growing well.
How do I take care of my vanilla vines?
Vanilla plants need regular watering and should be kept moist but not too wet until they have established themselves in their new home.
They need to be kept warm and in a humid environment, in good levels of daylight but out of the midday sun.
They won’t do well in deep shade but a partially shaded spot will not affect the plant.
If you remember that are a native plant of deep forests and jungles, which experience warmth and sporadic light levels, and try to re-create that experience then you won’t go wrong.
How to grow vanilla beans from seeds?
Vanilla seeds are difficult to grow and produce unreliable results.
It’s unlikely that you’ll get viable plants from the seeds and most new plants are produced from cuttings taking from healthy vines and this is the recommended route to take when growing new plants.
How do I get my vanilla vine to bloom?
Vanilla vines are very sensitive to heat, light, and moisture. To grow vanilla plants successfully, these three variables must be perfect.
The temperature in must be maintained at 78 to 80 degrees Farenheit.
To produce vanilla beans, the vanilla vines need to experience a wet season and a dry season. During the wet season, maintain humidity levels high and keep the surface of your container moist.
Stressing the plant by withholding water for 6-8 weeks will encourage it to produce flowers. You should only do this with plants that are 3 years or older as younger plants will not be capable of blossoming.
Once the flowers do appear they will only last for a few hours and will need to be manually pollinated.
The easiest way to pollinate the flowers is with a fine brush, such as an artist’s paintbrush.
Gently brush the stamens (inside the flower) of the flowers to transfer pollen from one flower to the next.
Alternate from one flower to the next and then back and forth to ensure that each flower has received pollen from another one.
Producing vanilla pods from your plant
Following pollination of the flower it will take up to six months for the pods to develop and mature.
The beans will gradually grow and will be a green color. You just need to leave these on the vine until the ends of the beans begin to turn yellow. This will be around the six month mark.
During this growing spell keep the vine watered and do not let it dry out.
You can apply a dilute solution of a general purpose plant fertilizer at every other watering to help maintain health and growth.
The vine takes around six months to mature and produce beans, but don’t expect any results until the vine is at least 3 years old.
Vanilla is a plant best left undisturbed so don’t be tempted to prune it back or move it around.
If you keep up with its needs, it should thrive in your home.