Skip to main content

Growing your own vanilla plant doesn’t need to be difficult: Here’s what you need to know

How to grow vanilla orchids at home to create your own vanilla beans

Vanilla is a delicious part of many treats, but did you know you can grow it at home? Not only are they beautiful climbing plants, but they’re also perfect for greenhouses and indoor gardens. It isn’t always easy, but with patience and this simple guide, you can grow and harvest your own vanilla beans.

Related Videos




1 hour 30 minutes

What You Need

  • Orchid potting mix

  • Fertilizer

  • Scissors

  • Towel or blanket

  • Airtight container

A vanilla flower sitting on dry vanilla beans

What is a vanilla plant?

Vanilla comes from vanilla orchids. Vanilla orchids are actually a genus of orchids, meaning there are more than one species. Most of the vanilla beans we use come from the flat-leaved vanilla orchid, or Vanilla planifolia, which is native to the tropics of Central and South America.

Aside from needing a warm, humid place to grow, you’ll also need space if you want to grow vanilla. These vining plants can reach up to 100 feet outdoors and 10 feet in a greenhouse!

A pair of dried vanilla beans

Planting a vanilla orchid

Here's how to get started:

Step 1: Choose a location with bright, indirect light, filtered light, or partial sun.

Vanilla won’t flower as well in full shade, but it can burn in direct light.

Step 2: Make sure the environment is warm, humid, and has good airflow.

The temperatures should be in the upper 70s to mid-80s during the day and in the mid-60s to low 70s at night.

Step 3: Plant your orchid in well-draining soil.

An orchid-specific potting mix is recommended.

Step 4: Provide a climbing structure.

This can be a simple wooden pole, a fence, or a full trellis. Vanilla will grow vertically and horizontally, so if your ceilings are too low, opt for length instead.

A vanilla flower

Caring for your vanilla plant

A vanilla plant won't flower until it's 3 to 4 years old. While you wait, here's how to care for it:

Step 1: Mist your vanilla plant regularly.

Step 2: Fertilize your orchid every two weeks during the growing season.

Step 3: Trim the top of your plant if it grows too large.

Step 4: Hand pollinate the flowers once they bloom by removing the stamen of one flower and placing it on the stigma of a different flower.

Successfully pollinated flowers will fall off in a day or two.

Vanilla beans growing on a vanilla orchid

Harvesting vanilla beans

After pollination, it takes vanilla beans nine months to mature, so the first step of harvesting is actually to wait! Once they’re mature, here’s what to do:

Step 1: Look for pods that are turning yellow.

Step 2: Use scissors to clip the pods off the vine.

Step 3: Wrap the beans in a towel or blanket.

Step 4: Set the wrapped beans in a warm, dry place for three to four days.

This process is called sweating. Afterward, the beans should be light brown.

Step 5: Dry the beans in direct sunlight for a month until they are dark brown and leathery.

Step 6: Store the beans that you don't plan to use immediately in a dry, airtight container.

It takes a long time and a lot of patience, but it’s worth it to have your own supply of delicious vanilla! Even before your vanilla orchid begins growing beans, the plant itself is beautiful. Once they start growing, you’ll have plenty of vanilla beans to use, since each plant can produce several beans each month.

Editors' Recommendations

Infuse a fresh fragrance into your garden with these lavender plants
Your guide to selecting the best lavender type for your home garden
Lavender flowers clustered together

When you’re building a garden, one of the first plants that you might gravitate toward is lavender. Besides its gorgeous blooms and calming scent, lavender is also incredibly easy to maintain. Plus, it’s great for attracting pollinators to benefit the rest of your garden. 

But did you know that there are actually different types of lavender plants? In fact, there are four main categories of lavender, and knowing what they are can help you select the right variety for your climate zone. In this guide, we’ll help you learn all about the different types of lavender so you can enjoy sweet, low-maintenance blooms throughout the growing season — or even all year long if you’re lucky! 

Read more
Want to make your neighbors jealous? Here are the best spring fruits to grow
Plant these fruits this spring for a tasty harvest
Ripe blackberries on the bush

Spring is a favorite season for many gardeners, and for good reason! The plants begin to wake up, the ground thaws, and you can begin planning and planting your next garden. There are plenty of plants to choose from, but there's nothing quite like fruit fresh from your own garden. If a ripe, juicy berry or piece of fruit sounds perfect to you, then keep reading! Here are what we believe are the best spring fruits to plant this season, complete with care tips so you can tell at a glance which ones are right for your garden.

Ripe, juicy blackberries are a delicious treat, and they’re easy to grow. Plant these fruits in early spring and make sure they’re in full sun. Blackberries do best in rich, well-draining soil. Mixing compost into your soil can help significantly. Blackberries need roughly an inch of water each week, and they thrive in soil that is consistently moist but not soaking wet. Most blackberry varieties are ready for harvest in mid to late summer.

Read more
What does NPK mean when it comes to fertilizing plants?
Your guide to the main nutrients in the NPK ratio for robust plant growth
A gardener fertilizing a young plant

Just like humans, plants need food in order to stay healthy and strong. Fertilizers give plants full-sized leaves, healthy roots, and vibrant flowers. Without sufficient soil nutrients, plants will grow very slowly, developing weak stems and pale leaves. If you're going for a verdant, vibrant garden landscape or indoor jungle, plant food is a must.

But not all fertilizers are built the same. To distinguish between different fertilizers, you’ll want to reference the NPK ratio. But what exactly do these numbers mean? To help your plants grow robustly, we’ve got the details ahead.

Read more