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Vanilla is a genus of orchids belonging to the orchid family, Orchidaceae.

Image of Vanilla plant at Google

Vanilla is a genus of orchids belonging to the orchid family, Orchidaceae. Vanilla is a flavoring that is derived from orchids of this genus. It is primarily from the Mexican species, Flat-leaved Vanilla. The word vanilla derives from the Spanish word “vainilla”, little pod. This is hand pollinated.

There are currently three major cultivars of vanilla grown globally. Vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron.

Culinary uses
There are three main commercial preparations of natural vanilla:
– whole pod.
– powder (ground pods, kept pure or blended with sugar, starch, or other ingredients).
– extract (in alcoholic or occasionally glycerol solution; both pure and imitation forms of vanilla).

Medicinal uses
– Vanilla was able to block quorum sensing in bacteria.
– The essential oils of vanilla and vanillin are sometimes used in aromatherapy.
– In old medicinal literature, vanilla is described as an aphrodisiac and a remedy for fevers.
– Vanilla increases levels of catecholamines (including adrenaline).

Growing/Caring conditions for Vanilla
– Select a location which receives natural sunlight.
– Care should be taken that the location is not too hot.
– Indirect light is preferred in summer.
– Plant the orchid in the location.
– Water the orchid well.
– Care should be taken, not to overwater the orchid.
– Keep the orchid moist.
– Plant blooms in the fall to spring.
– Repotting annually is better for some orchids.
– Plant the orchid in a potting mix of mulch for tropical plants.
– Fertilize the orchid with plant food that is specific for orchids.
– Control the way roots get their oxygen because it is an important factor when they grow.
– This plant needs rich and fertile soil.
– This plant needs well draining soil.
– Add tree fern fibers (for small plants), several pieces of coarse fir bark, or sphagnum moss for draining.
– Dead growth and branches should be removed.

The following fungal and bacterial infections are known to attack the plant.
– Leaf spot is caused by Colletotrichum and Gleosporium
– Leaf blight – caused by Pythium
– Collar blocth – caused by Penicilium thomii
– Collar rot – caused by Sclerotium
– Orchid wilt – caused by Sclerotium rolfsli

To avoid the above, fungicides like Captan, Dithane, Agrosan and Ceresan are very effective.

– More than 32 diseases are known to occur on orchids with the most common are Cymbidium mosaic virus.

– All infected plants should be isolated to prevent spreading of the disease for avoiding.

– The most commonly reported insects pests on orchids are thrips, aphids, spidermite, soft scale, mealy bugs, orchid weevil, snail and slugs.

– They feed on tender young shoot, suck the sap and damage the young bud and shoot and also act as the carrier of different diseases.

– These can be controlled by effective insecticides like Parathion, Malathion, BHC, Aldrin, Dieldrin, etc. Metaldehyde has proved to be very effective in killing slugs and snails.

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