The genus vanilla contains around 110 species of orchids that are distributed worldwide, especially in tropical regions.
Among all these varieties there is one that arouses our interest, the vanilla planifolia which is the one that everyone knows and produces the spice that we have ever tasted. Today we teach you how to cultivate it.
It is not easy, but you have to try.
SWEETENING OUR DESSERTS WITH THE CULTIVATION OF VANILLA
The vanilla is a climbing plant and epiphyte . The latter term refers to plants that use other plants for support (many orchids, ferns, mosses, etc.).
Its origins belong to the American continent, collected by the Spanish conquerors in Mexico.
It is the only orchid that, in addition to its ornamental characteristics, is cultivated for nutritional reasons, and it is true that the spice that is collected from vanilla planifolia or other genera is widely used in the kitchen or in perfumery. Whatever your interest in vanilla, it is best to know how it is grown.
THE WEATHER AND VANILLA, IMPORTANT FACTOR?
Its origins are tropical and it still has roots of it. It has optimum growth temperature of 20 ° C to 30 ° C , without much difference in temperature between day and night (better houseplant?).
This consideration severely conditions the cultivation, so if these high temperatures are not obtained in the area where you live, grow vanilla indoors.
There is also an important topic that we must comment on, the shadow . For an efficient cultivation of vanilla, shade conditions of 50% more or less are needed.
Ideally, you should grow it in your garden under the shade of large trees or that generated by their tutors (I think we have not commented on this, we will do it later).
A lot of lighting yellows its leaves and considerably reduces growth.
WHAT CHARACTERISTICS MUST THE SOIL HAVE TO HOST THIS CROP?
The nature and structure of the soil is not of vital importance when growing vanilla. Only good permeability conditions and soft ground are required .
In other words, we must avoid compaction at all times.
Here the organic matter comes into play , which must be present at all times during the cultivation of vanilla, and will also prevent the soil from cracking, drying out and compacting.
Regarding pH , slightly acid soils favor it, with values between 6 and 7, perfect with the combined use of soil and compost .
SOME CONSIDERATIONS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE GROWING VANILLA
Vanilla needs tutors and we have mentioned it before with other words (epiphyte). You can take advantage of the growth of other crops as guides or install posts, ropes or wires.
In the first case, with the live tutors, it favors the shade of the crop, as well as the contribution of organic matter, humidity, etc.
In the second case, you have a vanilla crop without competitors, in clear terrain, where you have to control the level of lighting that the vanilla receives and the maintenance of the tutors.
HOW TO ARRANGE THE TUTOR
The growth of vanilla is very fast and in 1 month they can already reach one meter in height.
Our goal is to place the stem as erect as possible, guiding them through the guide plants or posts with wires, like a climber, and prune it at the time (winter) in which its growth exceeds, 6 or 8 months before of flowering.
IRRIGATION AND FERTILIZATION OF VANILLA
Avoid excessive watering or humidity that favors the development of diseases.
In general, a stable humidity is maintained during its growth (except before the ripening of its fruits and flowering, which must be less) and it is sufficient.
It is necessary to complete the nutritional requirements of vanilla by adding organic matter.
If we have manure , we must add it once it is decomposed, and in general any humus that we have at our disposal.
Numerous studies have confirmed that the best organic matter to use in the cultivation of vanilla is vegetable compost , direct from your home composter .
HOW TO MULTIPLY VANILLA
Vanilla is usually multiplied by seeds or by cuttings . Normally, it is made from stakes 1 meter long or 1.5 meters, although its operation is difficult.