Sunday, March 31, 2013

What is Vanilla Orchid?

The Vanilla planifolia commonly referred to as the vanilla orchid, is the most popular of the orchid species commercially due to the fact that it produces vanilla flavoring. We are referring to the well-known vanilla bean of course. This is where the flavoring stems from which is actually the orchid's seed pod. When growing in the wild, it is often pollinated by one of kind bee species, but in cultivation you will see that it gets pollinated by hand. The Vanilla Orchid is native to Central America as well as nearby areas like Mexico, the South of Florida and certain parts of South America.

Biologically speaking, the Vanilla Orchid's subfamily branched off from the rest of the orchid family. There are not many genera within the subfamily, but Vanilla are the most notable ones. Due to the symbolic relationship between the vanilla orchid and the natural pollinator (Melipona bees), first attempts to cultivate vanilla outside the borders of Mexico and also Central America did not work out.

Where Does Vanilla Orchid Get Its Name From?

Its been said that Vanilla is a known genus that contains roughly around 110 described species of orchid. The most popular is the Vanilla planifolia. It is interesting to note that the name vanilla is derived from the Spanish word vainilla which is a diminutive form of a word vaina that means sheath. In turn the word vaina comes from the Latin word vagina that means "scabbard" or "sheath". Everyone appreciate the Vanilla Orchid as it is famous for its taste and aroma that gets used in food and also perfumes.

Amazingly, the orchid coming from the Vanilla genus grows monopodially as vines which makes them very unusual among orchids. Therefore, it is good to make use of a trellis or, a tall tree fern to offer support for the Vanilla orchid. It is a known fact that they can grow many meters in length. You could even pot the orchids in sphaghum moss within a plastic pot. As long as you are aware that the Orchid plant will soon grow way beyond the confines of the pot after which it will rely on aerial roots.

As a matter of interest, the preferred way to water the Vanilla orchid is through misting it frequently, and growing it where it is fairly humid. In addition, the orchid should only be watered when it approaches dryness as it does not have the means to store water effectively. This could be the reason why the Vanilla orchid is often grown in greenhouses once tissue plant culture methods have been used to ensure they get a solid foundation. Generally warm growing conditions are best, normally in the upper 70 to lower 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It is good to note that individual vanilla orchid flowers do not last very long; you will find that one day per flower is typically how long it will last. It goes to show how intricate some of these vanilla orchid flowers are.

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