Success in growing vanilla entails cultivating it under good growing conditions including the prevention of diseases that could affect the quality of its beans and their yield.
Growing Vanilla – Ensuring the Perfect Environment
The beans in vanilla where the extract is derived as a baking ingredient only flowers when they are pollinated by hand. Growing vanilla also means that it is grown in a tropical or subtropical climate like that of its origin, Mexico. When planting them, they must first be placed in a shaded area where they are assured of receiving at least four hours of indirect sunlight everyday. The soil must also be aerated with redwood barks placed on top of the planting site. It also improves drainage. The plant must be watered when transplanting so as to prevent it from shock. Continuous watering to ensure a moist soil makes growing vanilla successful.
Vanilla Seeds – Helping them Mature
Growing and harvesting vanilla seeds is labor-intensive. Since it can only be hand-pollinated in countries outside of Mexico, cultivators must be aware of its flowering because pollination is only possible within 12 hours after its opening. Only five to six flowers are pollinated on each raceme or flower cluster to guarantee quality and that the vanilla seeds age together. Otherwise, they can yield low-quality seeds and may be prone to diseases. This can also be aggravated by too much water, poor drainage, severe aeration by the redwood bark or insufficient exposure to bright yet indirect sunlight. The fruits may take only a little over a month to develop, however, their seeds can take nine months to mature.
Vanilla Plants – Another Orchid Genus
Orchids comprise the largest family of flowering plants of which vanilla plants belong. They are perennial herbs which grow mostly in the tropics and feature distinctive monocotyledons. Vanilla plants are climbing vines which do so through their adventitious roots which are produced alone opposite their leaves. These roots branch out at its base in the humus or mulch layer and can reach as high as 10 to 15 meters. Their stems may be simple or branched and are tender and brittle. When they are grown for their economic potential, they are trained to climb to a specific height to ease pollination and harvesting.