The Vanilla Orchid is grown for curiosity more than the flower. The fleshy green leaves grow in a zig-zag pattern clinging to the bark by aerial roots formed by each leaf node. The plant can climb up to 30 feet tall when it will then produce the flower and the seed pods. The blooms are a yellow-green with a yellow-orange labellum resembling the Cattleya flower. Since the Vanilla is vining, a stake or trellis should be used for support.
LIGHT – Vanilla prefers a partially shaded location. An east or west window will work if the plant is shaded from the intense mid-day sun.
TEMPERATURE – Warm temperatures are beneficial to the Vanilla Orchid. Daytime temps should be kept around 80-85 degrees. Lower nighttime temps are preferred by most plants including the Vanilla and should be around 60-65 degrees.
WATER – This particular orchid is tropical and prefers a moist climate. The humusy soil or potting medium should be kept evenly moist at all times. If the soil is too wet, the roots may rot. If too dry, they can shrivel or burn especially in hot weather. Humidity should be kept high. This can be obtained either with a humidifier, a humidity tray, or a tray of pebbles and water which is kept under the pot.
FERTILIZER – Vanillas are vigorous growers so they may need more food than other more slowly growing orchids. A balanced fertilizer (20-20-20) is recommended with fewer feedings during the winter months. Since Vanillas do not produce flowers until they reach maturity, a bloom booster is not important.