There’s nothing quite like the feeling a proud parent experiences when their child is born. This will be the third time in my life that I’ve help give birth to brand new vanilla vines in Hawaii, this particular child starting its birthing journey 2 years ago, on the Kona side of the Big Island of Hawaii. To start, we took small cuttings from the mother plants. These cuttings will eventually turn into big, healthy vanilla vines, and the process will take about 5 years. As they grow to maturity, I will share with you the journey.
There are multiple ways that we welcome new vanilla plants into the vineyard. For one, we can take cuttings from fully matured vines. A meter long cutting takes at least two years to produce orchid flowers. Two node cuttings will take up to 3-4 years.
But to start with really clean plant material, you have to merristem, or tissue culture. This involves taking plant tissue from a desirable vanilla vine and cloning it in a fully sterile lab environment. A tissue cultured vanilla vine takes up to 5 years until its ready to flower.
The end result is happy, healthy vanilla!