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 then produces the flower and the seed pods. The blooms are 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.
VANILLA ORCHID CARE
Vanilla orchids prefer a partially shaded location. An east or west window will work if the plant is shaded from the intense mid-day sun.
The Vanilla 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.
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.
Vanilla orchids are vigorous growers, so they need more food than more slow-growing orchids. A balanced fertilizer (20-20-20) is recommended with fewer feedings during the winter months. Since Vanilla orchids do not produce flowers until they reach maturity, a bloom booster is not important.
POTTING VANILLA ORCHIDS
Vanilla orchids are strong growers and always want to grow up. It’s best to plant Vanilla orchids in a well-draining pot with fir bark and an orchid mixture. You will need a stake or a pole for the flower to cling to and train the vine to grow up.
OTHER ORCHID SUGGESTIONS
ZYGOPETALUM ORCHID – The Zygopetalum orchid is a genus of twenty species native to Central America. They are exotic new world orchids that grow in a cool rainforest environment. These flowers are fragrant with spots and stripes of purple, green, and brown.
JEWEL ORCHIDS – The Jewel orchid is known to have the most beautiful foliage of the orchid Family. The leaves are a blackish, red-green velvet with coppery red veins and wine-red undersides. The waxy white flowers have a yellow anther that twists to one side while the anchor-shaped lip twists opposite. The flowers bloom from fall to winter.
ONCIDIUM ORCHIDS – Oncidium orchids have been nicknamed the Dancing Lady Orchids, and once you see a flower, you know why. Their blooms resemble a tiny dancer with a colorful outfit. Oncidiums are a relatively small plant and may bloom when planted in a smaller pot.