Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Species Orchid, Vanilla Orchid, Commercial Vanilla, Flat Plane Leafed Vanilla
Vanilla planifolia

Family: Orchidaceae (or-kid-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Vanilla (van-IL-a) (Info)
Species: planifolia (plan-ee-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Vanilla duckei
Synonym:Vanilla rubra
Synonym:Vanilla sativa
Synonym:Vanilla sylvestris
Synonym:Vanilla viridiflora

7 vendors have this plant for sale.

96 members have or want this plant for trade.

Vines and Climbers

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)
30-40 ft. (9-12 m)
over 40 ft. (12 m)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Shade

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
Chartreuse (Yellow-Green)

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
This plant is suitable for growing indoors

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

Seed Collecting:
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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12 positives
4 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Grannos On Nov 19, 2013, Grannos from Naice
Croatia (Zone 7a) wrote:

I bought vanilla cutting and was wondering what is the best way to plant it? For now I placed it on top of the light potting mix and mist it every day. I also made a dome (from transparent plastic bag) that covers the entire container in which cutting is planted. I made it to keep the humidity at high level. Is that good or bad idea? I would really like for it to grow because I paid a lot of money for it so is anyone can give helpful advice (here or PM) I would appreciate it a lot. Thanks!

Positive gwenski On Jun 26, 2013, gwenski from Raleigh, NC wrote:

I finally found one of these at Atlantic Avenue ( and so far it's doing well. I've only had it for a few weeks, it's in the corner of my sunroom and I mist it every other day and have been keeping it moderately moist. It's grown a little so far and I'm really anxious to see if I can get it bloom!

Positive DreamBeans On Oct 27, 2012, DreamBeans from Ainaloa, HI wrote:

I grow vanilla in the lower puna area of the big island in Hawaii. We currently have one greenhouse and about 30 plants. We plan on creating a business soon. Please check us out on Facebook at . We are just starting out but we have already harvested and processed a few oz of dry beans, so if you have any questions please ask us on Facebook or via email at Please check us out and give us a like! Thanks!

Positive btc129psu On Feb 11, 2008, btc129psu from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I purchased a small rooted cutting last summer and have had it down here in Houston ever since. I have it potted in a ceramic orchid pot with terrestrial orchid mix and a fernwood pole. I had to train the first two nodes to root to the fernwood but it has been deftly climbing the pole since.

Although the description says you should keep it damp and never let it dry out I have had good success letting it dry out completely before watering. From mid November through January it was too cold here to keep it outside so I put it in a bright (although it was dark most of the winter) window and barely touched it. I probably only soaked the pot and misted the climbing roots two or three times and it did just fine. The only noticable difference was, not surprisingly, its growth slowed significantly and once after about a month some of the oldest leaves began to lose their suppleness until the plant was watered.

Now that it is warm enough to keep it outside in the day I have returned it to its normal regimen. I still let the potting mix dry out between waterings but I lightly mist the whole plant on hot and drier days and every few days spray the fernwood post directly until water begins to trickle down it over the roots. It gets dappled sun throughout the day although mostly in the morning and early afternoon. I fertalize it just like my other orchids but with special attention to the post and areal roots. Overall I have found this to be a very easy and hardy plant to care for and a surprisingly fast grower.

I should note that the weather in Houston is regularly very humid (avg. min. %45 or so in winter and around 60-90% the rest of the year) with a very intense sun, particularly when it gets hot. Although these conditions have caused trouble for many of my more temperate and xeric plants, the vanilla does not seem to mind as long as it is shaded from the most intense direct sunlight.

Positive Just_Grow_It On Oct 26, 2007, Just_Grow_It from Manassas, VA wrote:

I grow this indoors under glass. It's a curiosity, but not really suitable for a houseplant. I find mine does best with REALLY high humidity.

Positive acfrancis On Oct 29, 2006, acfrancis from Trenton, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I brought my potted vanilla orchid with me from florida to the pacific northwest. It has done well for three years now. It is in wood chips, charcoal, etc in a wood planter. Ive set the planter on a platter with stones/water to help with humidity as its very dry here in the summer months and dry the rest of the year due to running the heater. It sits just off the side of my east window. I have never given it enough attention to get it to flower but may not have success anyway due to the dry conditions. It is a beautiful vine, though, w/thick shiny green leaves.

Positive Marianne68 On Jun 9, 2006, Marianne68 from Okeechobee, FL wrote:

I grew my vanilla orchid on the east side inside screened porch. It attached itself to the screen and I took it down when expecting a hurricane. Unfortunatley, it then died.

Positive drmanjunath On Aug 16, 2005, drmanjunath from shimoga
India wrote:

Dr Manjunath dental surgeon by profession,an active
innovative farmer. Ihave been growing vanilla in my
garden since 8 yrs. I have taken support @shade
from arecanut plants. pruning and dry spells are given
during november . pollination done in feb &march.
Harvesting during oct. processing is done by bourbon
method. It is fun &lucarative to grow vailla.

Neutral kwelstr On May 25, 2005, kwelstr from Miami, FL wrote:

Note on pollination of the flower:

The flower opens in the morning and closes in the afternoon, never to reopen. If it is not pollinated, it will shed the next day. The optimum time for pollination is midmorning.

The Vanilla flower is self-fertile, but incapable of self-pollination without the aid of an outside agency to either transfer the pollen from the anther to the stigma or to lift the flap or rostellum, then press the anther against the stigma.

Most of the commercial vanilla crop relies on hand-pollination and it is said that this accounts for half the total labour cost in vanilla production.

Peak flowering is usually late winter or early spring.

Positive happymi On Jan 19, 2005, happymi from Miami, FL wrote:

I planted a small cutting about a year ago. I planted it against an avocado tree that is in my yard and part of my avocado grove. It is mostly in shade but does get some direct sun. I have just noticed what I believe is the beginning of a flower. I am interested in when the bean would appear or will appear. I have a large collection of different orchids and this one really has captured my interest. If anyone can tell me more about the bean I would much appreciate the information. My location in in the South end of Miami Florida. I have not sprayed this orchid too often and it seems to love where it is. I would amagine it is about twenty feet up into the tree. I want to start new plants after this one has had beans.

Positive IslandJim On Oct 31, 2004, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

Mine's growing on a support pillar on my front porch. A year or so ago, the pot it was planted in had to be moved, so we just severed to vine. And, it turns out, the vine doesn't need terrestrial roots. Does fine just clinging to the post. Of interest, the post is painted; many vines will not cling to a painted surface but vanilla does, and through a horrific hurricane season this year as well. It has yet to bloom, however.

Neutral Monocromatico On Jun 28, 2004, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

Natural vanilla stracts has been replaced for artificial vanilla flavored substances in the past years, but they can't really be compared (artificial vanilla tastes like plastic and sacarine).

Positive foodiesleuth On Jun 28, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

The only commercial vanilla enterprise in Hawaii is located about 20 miles or so up the road from where I live. Beautiful, plump beans, even when dried.....

The Hawaiian Vanilla Company cultivates, propogates and manufactures all its products from Hawaiian-grown vanilla.

UPDATE-November 1, 2004.
My son planted several vanilla vines at the base of two guava trees, using the trunks of the trees as trellises. As the vines reach a height of about 5-6 ft, he then coaxes them back down so that the vines will reach the bottom again...after the growing end touches ground again, then he will start the growing end back up the tree....thus ensuring that the vines never get too high to pollinate and pick the beans once it blooms. They have not bloomed as yet, but we expect to have some this coming year.

UPDATE: January 2005
I got some vanilla bean pods from our friend up the road and made my own vanilla extract in mid-November 04 - I decanted a whole bottle of Myer's Rum into a glass carafe and added 10 vanilla beans - 5 of them split down the length of them and left 5 whole ones. I just tasted it a little while ago and it is one of the most aromatic vanilla extracts I have ever made. I will not touch it now until next December, when I will re-bottle in smaller glass bottles, add one bean, paste my own handpainted label and give as gifts in the gift baskets filled with all kinds of homemade goodies I give to several friends and neighbors.

UPDATE: May 2005
Message for happymi from Miami, FL
If your vine has grown that high up the tree, you can bend it down at about the 5 foot point and bring it back toward the ground. You can then cover a little piece of the vine with dirt and put a rock on it. Let it root again. You can then bring it back up the tree and go around the tree, up and down - to a comfortable pollinating and picking height of about 5 feet. Don't let it continue to grow so high up on the tree.

Neutral RxBenson On Jun 27, 2004, RxBenson from Pikesville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

In January 2004 I purchased a speciman from the Ford-Edison museum complex in FL, and the culture tag on it said: needs partial sun, moisture (humidity) and is an "understory" plant in its natural habitat. It also 'warned' me that the plant would bloom when "mature," at approx. 40 feet! I was not amused that the three lengths of vine in the pot had been rooted AT BOTH ENDS and inserted into the soil to form inverted loops leaning against a wooden trellis. It is spending the summer outside here in coastal NJ and one of the loops has sent out two healthy new shoots and there are now a few new adventitious roots along all loops. I have several Phall. orchids and intend to duplicate their culture for the Vanilla to see if I get lucky. I'll update as needed.

Positive nirmalminoo On Jan 23, 2003, nirmalminoo wrote:

Vanilla is the aroma of the planet. Though the available information and variability is very narrow, there is a lot of mystery waiting to be unravelled in this unique plant.

Vanilla cultivation is profitable because of the high cost of healthy, disease free cuttings, not to speak about the cost of processed beans (fruits), it being the second costliest spice in International market.

Vanilla research is luring, because of the vast areas of work that can be put in to improve and broaden the genetic base of the plant, helping in crop improvement programmes

Neutral Terry On Aug 22, 2001, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is the plant source for vanilla extract, created by placing the ripe pods in alcohol.

The bean pods produced on this tropical vine are second only to saffron in price per pound. It can be cultivated indoors or in a greenhouse. Under optimal conditions, the plant will produce pods when it reaches approximately 10 feet.

In its native habitat, it can reach upwards of 75 feet.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Brea, California
Brentwood, California
Mountain View, California
Venice, California
Boca Raton, Florida
Deland, Florida
Delray Beach, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Gainesville, Florida
Homestead, Florida
Lecanto, Florida
Marco Island, Florida
Merritt Island, Florida
Miami, Florida (4 reports)
Naples, Florida
Ocala, Florida
Okeechobee, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Sarasota, Florida (2 reports)
Titusville, Florida
Venice, Florida
Ainaloa, Hawaii
Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaii
Honomu, Hawaii
Kurtistown, Hawaii
Wailuku, Hawaii
Raleigh, North Carolina
Toronto, Ontario
Harrison Valley, Pennsylvania
Houston, Texas (2 reports)
Christiansted, Virgin Islands

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