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How to grow vanilla beans at home

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

how to grow vanilla beans

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  • The vanilla bean plant is a vining orchid that requires heat, humidity and a place to climb to produce flowers and beans. The plant is epiphytic, meaning it has tiny roots growing from each leaf node to gather water from the air
  • Natural vanilla is nearly $300 a pound since it takes up to 7 pounds of beans to make 1 pound of vanilla and the plants must be hand pollinated. It takes nine months to harvest the pods and the curing process takes up to four months, during which a farmer may lose an entire crop to mold and moisture
  • The plants begin to flower once they have reached 3 to 5 feet in length but they can grow up to 300 feet when left to climb trees. Training your vanilla orchid to grow laterally helps manage the plant; use clay pots in humid climates and plastic in drier environments to help the soil hold more moisture
  • The vanilla plant enjoys a humid environment, it also needs good air flow and soil drainage to reduce the potential for root rot. Consider locating your plant in a greenhouse or bathroom. You can also build a decorative greenhouse using recycled windows

Orchids are one of the largest families of flowering plants, and vanilla is the only orchid plant that produces an edible fruit. In 2005, a provisional checklist of the size of the orchid family suggested there are more than 24,500 known species.

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