Gastropods Love Orchids

Snails and Slugs are fond of Orchids and Vanilla Orchids.

Snails and slugs just love to feast on orchids and can rapidly do a lot of damage by eating leaves, flowers, new growth and roots. A very effective method is simply to inspect your plants late at night, armed with a flashlight, when snails and slugs are active, collect them and, if you wish to spare their life, set them free far away from your plants and garden!

Who can resist the delectable sweetness and aroma of vanilla? Whether it is a flavor in ice cream, or an icing on cake, everybody enjoys its taste and scent.

But have you ever wondered where vanilla comes from? Would you believe that vanilla is only a by-product of one of the most beautiful flower species? Yes, it’s true – vanilla comes from an orchid.

Vanilla orchids have different varieties but not all of them are capable of producing the vanilla bean. The vanilla that we buy in the market is from an orchid named Vanilla Planifolia. Although vanilla is famous for its inviting scent and sweet taste, the Vanilla tahitenis which can be found in Tahiti cannot offer a rich flavor like the vanilla planifolia although it does smell as sweet.

It is not that easy to harvest the aromatic fruit from the vanilla orchids. It requires very careful and detailed procedures to successfully get the valuable vanilla. Before you can get the orchid to bear the pod where you can find the vanilla, you need to pollinate the flowers manually and this must be done during a designated time of the day.

It takes one year before the final step of acquiring vanilla takes place. That is because, harvesting using your bare hands takes six months and the remaining six months is for the step by step treatment that the flower needs to undergo to be able to produce the vanilla that we love.

The essence of vanilla varies depending on what country produces it. Some of them produce a fruit with more vanilla-essence. Vanilla orchids grow and survive in the tropical forests of Africa, South America and Asia. Seventy-five percent of the world’s supply of vanilla is produced by Madagascar. Tahiti, Mexico, and Indonesia are some more examples of countries where these orchids are found.

Despite the procedures that the farmers have to take to be able to grow an orchid that produces vanilla, their hard work and patience will be rewarded once the fruit of their labor begins to give its unique aroma!

If you are not reluctant to chemical methods, scatter snail pellets around your plants. Never put slug or snail bait in your orchid pots, always put it around them on the ground, or use homemade traps like the ‘slug pub’. Bury an empty cream cheese container or a cut-off soft drink bottle in the soil up to the rim and fill with beer, in which the intruders will fall and drown. Some would see this as a truly humane end. Caffeine has also a great potential as an alternative to today’s snail- and slug-killing chemicals. Spray a 1-2% caffeine solution (strong brewed coffee has about .5% caffeine) onto the potting medium and it will do the job.

Other recommended approach is to use a 1 inch strip of copper foil around the bottom of pots, tree trunks or flower racks. The theory is that the snails and slugs will refuse to cross the copper foil because it gives them a slight shock which they don’t appreciate.

But maybe you can borrow some ducks (lol) and they will eat up those slimy creatures in a couple of days. If ducks are unavailable, lizards, frogs and toads are natural predators of snails and slugs. Protect these predators and they will help you to take care of your orchids.

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Posted in Flower Guide & Tips