Flowering Vanilla


Have you any suggestions to induce a Vanilla planifolia to bloom? My plant is growing well at the warm (80º to 85º F) end of my greenhouse, receives ample light at least six hours a day and is fertilized on a weekly basis. It has twined itself up a center support and has attached itself to the center ridge of the greenhouse. Is this species a notoriously shy bloomer? - Tom Capranica

 Vanilla flowering at RF Orchids, Homestead. photo © 2006 Greg Allikas


Given enough light and space - and I do mean space - vanilla vines will flower regularly. They require at least as much light as cattleyas and will grow to completely enclose your greenhouse eventually. We had one at my former place of employment that had to have been in aggregate more than 500 feet long that did not flower until we had scrubbed the roof well (the fiberglass was 20 years or more old at the time). Your plant should flower by the time it is nearing 20 feet, possibly this coming spring. - Ned Nash