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.

Difficulty

Moderate

Duration

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
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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

Cayla Leonard
Cayla Leonard is a writer from North Carolina who is passionate about plants.  She enjoys reading and writing fiction and…
What you need for a gorgeous indoor rose plant
Grow an indoor rose garden for a lively and elegant display
Several orange miniature roses in a large pot

Roses are beautiful, elegant flowers, but they’re also typically grown as outdoor blooms. They can take up a lot of space and have a reputation for being somewhat particular about their care. So what should you do if you have limited space to grow plants, or if the weather isn’t compatible with growing roses? Grow them indoors, of course! Here's everything you need to know to care for an indoor rose plant.

Can you grow roses inside?
Yes, you absolutely can! Revitalize your indoor garden with a bounty of roses. Roses will grow just as well indoors as they would outdoors, as long as you take proper care of them. Here are the basics of rose care and how they’re impacted by the change of scenery.
Light
Light is very important for roses. Most rose varieties need roughly six hours of direct sunlight a day. For indoor roses, make sure they have plenty of light or look for a variety that specifically grows in lower light. Grow lights will be crucial if your home doesn't get a lot of natural lighting.
Water
When watering your roses, make sure that the top inch of the soil is dry before you water, but don’t let the soil dry out completely. You also want to keep an eye out for the humidity. If the air isn’t humid enough, your rose may develop a spider mite infestation! You can place your rose in a tray with just a little water in it, which creates more humidity around the plant as the water evaporates. There is, of course, also the option of investing in a humidifier.
Temperature
Roses are not very fond of the cold. They need temperatures ranging from 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit to be comfortable. However, you can start your roses in January or February — the seeds should be just fine with this timing. The soil will keep them warm in late winter, and you should see sprouts by spring.
Pruning
Roses do need to be pruned, and this is especially true of indoor roses. Pruning keeps them healthy and from taking up too much room. Simply clip faded blooms off with sharp garden shears or a blade.

Read more
How to grow indoor ivy plants without having them take over your house
Your guide to growing ivy indoors for an elegant display
Indoor ivy on a trellis

Ivy is a stately, elegant plant. Its winding vines and distinctive leaves make it instantly recognizable to most people. It’s generally one of the easiest plants to grow indoors, which is good news for beginner plant enthusiasts. It might even be too easy, as it can grow quickly and become a nuisance if you're not paying attention.

Read more
Here’s what you need to know about spinach germination time and how to grow this salad staple
This cool-weather vegetable doesn't take long to grow
Freshly harvested spinach leaves in a bowl

Spinach is a popular cool-weather crop that’s grown in many garden beds and homes. Plus, spinach can be grown hydroponically and in soil, making it a versatile crop. However, spinach seeds can be a bit finnicky when it comes to germinating. The weather and how they're prepared can make a huge difference in how long they take to germinate, which can make them a frustrating crop for beginners. If you know the proper steps, germinating your own spinach seeds is quite rewarding, though. Luckily, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know about spinach germination time.

Read more