The vanilla plant is a perennial vine from Mexico and Central America, which climbs to around 15 metres and supports itself by means of aerial roots. It has fleshy, bright green leaves varying in length from eight to 25cm. Large, fragrant yellow-green flowers are followed by pendulous capsules from 10 – 25 cm long. These are often incorrectly referred to as ‘beans’.
In the wild, vanilla orchids climb from the forest floor up into the tree tops, and their flowers are pollinated by bees and hummingbirds. However, in cultivation they are pruned to a convenient height to allow for hand pollination and subsequent harvesting.
Vanilla orchids prefer well-drained soil enriched with organic material. They grow best in a hot, humid climate with adequate rainfall.
Vanilla orchids can be mail ordered from:
Palm Plantations of Australia Pty Ltd
15 Lakes Street
Phone: (07) 4031 2993
Fax: (07) 4051 0461