The elusive vanilla orchid

Most people have seen vanilla extract at the grocery store or in their home pantry. Some have seen a whole vanilla bean or even the vanilla vine. However, not many people realize that vanilla actually comes from a type of orchid.

Vanilla vines need to grow for 3 to 5 years before they will produce a flower, so even some people who have vanilla vines have not seen it bloom yet. Once the vine has reached the appropriate age and length, it will produce flowers annually for a period of about three months. The flowers will bloom in the morning and close again by noon, leaving you with a short window to polinate the flower (which must be done by hand) in order to produce a vanilla bean.
It takes a bit of love and a lot of patience, but if you are willing to put in the time you will be rewarded with this gorgeous flower.

The classic orchid shape in delicate, creamy yellow-green colorway. You dont often see this color in an orchid. They almost blend in with the vines along the trellis. Easy to miss in the morning light.

This was the very last flower of the growing season, and my first attempt at pollination. It will be another 9 ot 10 months before the vanilla blooms again. I cant wait to see what the new year brings.

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