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  #1  
Old 05-07-2019, 02:18 AM
venusslytrap's Avatar
venusslytrap venusslytrap is offline
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Vanilla Care Question(s)
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Hello, hello!
Please bear with me, I'm both long winded, a newbie to this forum, and a novice-- a terrible combination when it comes to any topic!

So, I'll start by saying that I'm a gardener as a hobby. It started as a way to get me out of the house and into the sun, which is important when you are freelance and work from home. Specifically, I like growing things with edible results. Having a practical goal is an automatic way to get my brain "full ahead, Mr. Sulu, maximum warp" invested. Which is great! You know. For a lot of things.

Fast forward from my first vegetable garden to now, and I've got a pretty good collection of edible plants that produce fairly good results. (I still have my fingers crossed for my camellia. She's not big enough to begin harvesting leaves from, but I have the faith of a proud soccer mom.)
Recently, I started craving something new! A challenge! Growing a citrus tree in the PNW wasn't enough of a steep hill! I needed something I could use in tandem with my other hobby-- baking! (Yes, people in the audience, this is going exactly where you think it's going. You may take this moment to laugh if you like.)

So I do some research, and you know, as I said-- I love challenges and I'm fully aware of the commitment it takes to growing a vanilla, and the fact that my efforts may not bear fruit at all, depending on the environment.

I'm going on about a month now with a lil vanilla vine in my care, and so far it's not a horror movie. My biggest concerns are with the basic care; I like to refresh myself on my plants' needs frequently, but I've found that different places either give different information entirely, or mention care practices so vague that I might as well be shaking an 8-ball. And... I figured that actually asking a board dedicated to orchids might be the best place for concrete answers.

I just have a few questions, and if anyone can answer them or point me to where I can find the right answers, I'm sure both myself and my vanilla will be very appreciative!!

1. IS there actually a potting medium that works best? I've read that it needs to be all sphagnum moss, a bark and perlite mix, coconut coir, bark and sphagnum moss mix-- lots of options! Would making my own mix be better than anything else?
2. Since I don't get a lot of (read: any) real sunlight indoors, and it's still much too chilly to be outside, IS a 13w, 5000k CFL bulb adequate?
3. Can a vanilla, hypothetically speaking, transition to living in a terrarium?
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  #2  
Old 05-07-2019, 05:19 AM
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camille1585 camille1585 is offline
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First of all, welcome to Orchidboard!

You don't mention where you are located, and unless you live somewhere warm or tropical, growing vanilla is going to be a challenge, though not impossible.

Potting mix Ė Itís a terrestrial orchid, and anything which both holds water and also drains well. Iíve read of many people growing their Vanilla plants in African violet mix, so if you don't want to make your own mix, it can be a good choice.

Light- Vanilla plants like bright dappled/indirect sunlight as in the wild they grow in the undergrowth, and use trees as supports on which to climb. If artificial light is the only light source, you will need far more light than what a single 13w CFL bulb provides. I don't know enough about Vanilla to be able to give more specific recommendations.

Growing environment - Vanilla is a vine, and is going to get large. A terrarium may work the first couple of months for a very young plant, but after that it will be too tall to fit inside, unless of course you have a much, much larger terrarium! (aka, a greenhouse).

If you hope to ever see it flower, an important blooming trigger for Vanilla is to cascade down once it has reached the top of its support. I dug up an old thread about this: Vanilla planifolia, do they really bloom once they reach 10 ft?
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  #3  
Old 05-07-2019, 05:24 AM
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venusslytrap venusslytrap is offline
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Ah! Thank you so much for answering my questions! I'm in washington state (the western side, not the eastern side) so it's definitely not a tropical zone by any means, haha.

This is definitely more than I had to go off of earlier today, and I really appreciate you finding that thread for me!
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Old 05-07-2019, 06:39 AM
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The problem is that Vanilla likes full sun in the tropics. That's much more intense than full sun in the PNW, and while lighting an entire 12" long cutting that brightly is no big deal, and the light you mentioned will do it, maintaining that level of lighting as the plant hits 12' is a completely different matter. It will require serious lighting, like a high power LED or HID fixture such as metal halide to produce that intensity over the whole of the plant at the distance required.
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Old 05-07-2019, 08:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Subrosa View Post
The problem is that Vanilla likes full sun in the tropics. That's much more intense than full sun in the PNW, and while lighting an entire 12" long cutting that brightly is no big deal, and the light you mentioned will do it, maintaining that level of lighting as the plant hits 12' is a completely different matter. It will require serious lighting, like a high power LED or HID fixture such as metal halide to produce that intensity over the whole of the plant at the distance required.
I'm surprised by that level of light! I did some reading about vanilla over the winter when I was doing a vanilla growing trial at work, and what I read in multiple sources is that they do well in bright dappled light, but not direct sun. In any case, that is still far brighter than what is easily achievable indoors...
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Old 05-07-2019, 08:32 AM
sbrofio sbrofio is offline
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Growing Vanilla indoor it's not easy at all. You need warm, light and humidity all year round. I'm a volountier in the Tropical greenhouse at the Local Botanic Garden where we have a Vanilla imperialis. Vanilla imperialis during good season can grow over 1.5 meter in some months (7-8 feet) and branches are 2.5/3 cm - 1 inch sized, so impossibile to bend in little angle without breaking them. Plants flower when they are some meters long (usually 4/5 at least), so almost impossible without living in tropics or having a greenhouse.

in the pic: Vanilla imperialis, new branch
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Last edited by sbrofio; 05-07-2019 at 08:37 AM..
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  #7  
Old 05-07-2019, 11:17 AM
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Leafmite Leafmite is offline
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I have a Vanilla planifolia. For the soil, I mixed a regular commercial potting soil with extra perlite, sand, and bark. It is in a six-inch pot. I have been wrapping the growing vine around a ring to keep it manageable. I keep it in the shade outside during the summer and have it under a single-bulb two-foot fluorescent grow light, in a window, during the winter (not very strong light). It does not tolerate cold drafts well (the vine might die back).

If you grow many other plants indoors and have them grouped together, you will probably have plenty of humidity for it. The roots of mine stay nice and plump (and ready to find a new pot).

As for whether this can actually produce flowers and beans growing in a home and not a greenhouse, that is a question I cannot answer. I grow mine because I like the novelty of it. I have the black pepper vine, allspice, vanilla, cinnamon, etc. I have heard that this needs to be about thirty feet before it will bloom but if you keep the vine wrapped around something, this is manageable.

Good luck!
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