Love the intoxicant scent of vanilla beans and want to learn how to grow vanilla beans? You’ve come to the right place! Vanilla beans are a climbing orchid that are native to Mexico and is actually the only member of the orchid family that is edible. These vines can grow as big as 300 feet, but, when grown in a smaller space, can be managed to about 20 feet. For the vine to flower, it does need to be at least 10 feet in length, which will take about 5-6 years. The flowers of the vine are greenish-yellow with a diameter of about 5 cm.
How to Grow Vanilla Beans Indoors
- This plant needs bright filtered shade and high humidity.
- Ideally, the vanilla bean needs about 80% humidity, and the ideal temperature would be 60-70F at night, and 80-95F during the day.
- Those in USDA zones 10-11 can grow vanilla beans outdoors.
- If you don’t live in one of those zones, grow vanilla beans indoors or in a greenhouse as they have zero tolerance for frost.
- Give your vanilla bean partial sun and use an orchid-potting mix or sphagnum moss alongside the soil.
Fertilizing and Watering:
- Keep soil evenly moist, but be sure not to over-water.
- In spring and summer, lightly fertilize every two weeks with an orchid fertilizer.
- Since the vanilla bean is a vine, it will need lots of support.
- In a tropical climate, you can plant your vanilla bean near a tree so it can climb up on the tree.
- Indoors or in a greenhouse, build a solid wooden trellis.
- Vanilla plants are hand pollinated, so you’ll need to remove pollen from the female part of the plant known as the anther.
- Use a toothpick to collect the pollen and apply it directly to the male part of the plant known as the stigma.
- The stigma will have a shield around it which will need to be peeled back in order to access it.
- Perform this in the morning hours for best results.
- After the process is finished, you should see pods begin forming within a week.
Harvesting Vanilla Beans:
- Use scissors to remove the pods from the plant.
- You’ll know they’re ready once the tips of the pods begin to turn yellow.
- After harvest, the vanilla beans will have no taste or smell so they’ll need to be cured.
- Place them in boiling water for 2-4 minutes, and then immediately blanche.
- Transfer to a wooden box that’s lined with a blanket and keep them for 36-48 hours.
- By this time, the beans will achieve a light brown color and start giving off that vanilla bean aroma.
- This process is called “sweating”.
- Alternatively, you can also dry them by placing them in a place with low humidity and out of direct sunlight, but this may take several months.
- Beans are ready to be used once they turn black.
- Store them in a dry, well ventilated area for about a month or two until they reach their peak flavor.
So now that you know how to grow vanilla beans, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to planting!
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