They come in white, yellow, and orange hues, and may have a length up to 50 cm.
Vanilla sp. requires a warm and humid location; it does best in semi-shade and will appreciate a sheltered spot away from the wind. The plant needs regular watering and fertilizing, but taking care not to over-water it in the winter, when growth is slower. Occasional misting of the leaves is beneficial. It can be grown both as an epiphyte in well-aerated soil, and as a terrestrial in a sandy, well-draining soil with organic material. Vanilla sp. is known to be hardy to USDA Zones 9 to 11. In colder regions, it is best grown in a greenhouse or container that can be brought inside during the cold months. For potted plants, make sure to use a potting mix with excellent drainage. Water them thoroughly, then allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Fertilizing should be done monthly from spring to autumn.
Overall, Vanilla sp. is an easy-care tropical native prized for its fragrant and showy white and off-white, yellow, and orange flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
The flowers are pollinated by bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, and after pollination, the plant produces green seed pods, also known as vanilla beans.
To produce vanilla extract, the beans are harvested and cured by a process that involves drying, sweating, and fermentation. The cured beans are then soaked in alcohol to extract the flavorful compounds and create the characteristic vanilla flavor that we know and love.
Vanilla is widely used in the food industry as a flavor and fragrance, and it is also used in cosmetics, perfumes, and other products. It is considered one of the most popular flavors in the world and is used in a wide range of dishes, including ice cream, cakes, and other baked goods, as well as savory dishes like sauces and marinades.
This dainty yet resilient climber is an excellent choice for an exotic touch to your garden.