The vanilla flower can usually only delight us with its sweet-smelling blossoms for one summer. It is genetically adapted to the rainforest climate, which it does not get in this country. But is she really condemned to a one-year existence because of that? In fact, it can be worthwhile to take care of this immigrant plant even in winter. We will tell you what is important when overwintering the vanilla flower.

In the vanilla plant hardy?

The vanilla plant, bot. Heliotropium arborescens , comes from South American Andean areas. However, it only grows at the foot of the snow-covered Andes and does not get a snowflake on the leaf itself. This should clearly answer the question of whether it is hardy: no, it is not hardy at all. Even all conceivable winter protection measures cannot help her through the icy days. In winter she is doomed to die outdoors.

Hibernation as an alternative

Buy, bloom, discard and buy new next year. In this country, this Andean plant is mainly cultivated. This cycle can be interrupted if the vanilla flower is allowed to hibernate in a suitable winter quarters. As a reward, it grows larger and more magnificent every year, its shoots become lignified and finally develops into a small tree with an often spherical crown. As such it is a rarity with us and is sure to draw admiring looks.

Instructions for wintering

Overwintering must meet the needs of the vanilla plant, otherwise it cannot succeed. The instructions for successfully overwintering the vanilla flower therefore deal with the following aspects:

  • time for hibernation
  • suitable winter quarters
  • winter care
  • Expiration of the excerpt

From when to hibernate?

The vanilla flower does not like frost at all. But she also doesn’t like low plus degrees. Temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius should not be expected of Heliotropium arborescens. But even strong winds and cool autumnal rainy days don’t sit well with her. When the time for the move has come cannot be specified in any instructions. It has to be redefined from year to year based on the prevailing weather.

  • Leave the flower outside for as long as possible
  • every ray of sunshine should be taken with you
  • this will make the plant healthy and resilient
  • survives the winter quarters better
  • if necessary only bring them into the house at night
  • only allow it permanently when the daytime temperature drops below 5 °C

Suitable winter quarters

Heliotropium arborescens is an evergreen plant. Even if she takes a break from growing in winter, she still needs light for her green leaves. The quarters provided must absolutely offer her that. Alternatively, a plant lamp can also be installed.

  • Temperatures of min. 5 °C and max. 10 °C are optimal
  • the warmer the location, the brighter it should be
  • natural light is preferable
  • a south-facing window in an unheated room is a good idea
  • also conservatory, garden house and the stairwell
Note: It should not be concealed, however, that this plant is highly poisonous. Overwintering indoors should be considered carefully if this gives small children easy access to her.

Initiate hibernation

The move from the balcony to winter quarters should be done smoothly. Especially when the flower has to cope with large temperature differences. The space in the winter quarters is often tight and other plants have to go in too. It is therefore possible to cut back the vanilla plant if necessary.

  • about 1/3 of the plant may be removed
  • do not make radical cuts
  • never cut roots

Winter care

The instructions for winter care are unexpectedly short. Because if you have found the ideal place for the vanilla flower to overwinter, you have already done most of the work. In it she needs only minimal care. It’s the green leaves that call for a little water every now and then.
If some leaves of the vanilla plant in the winter quarters show brown edges, curl up or dry up and finally fall off, this is usually due to the unfavorable lighting conditions. As long as leaf fall is within limits, it can be tolerated. In the spring, the Heliotropium arborescens will sprout again and compensate for this loss. However, it is also possible to set up an additional plant lamp.

Tip: Leaf fall can also be the result of too much moisture, which also causes the roots to rot. You should therefore use the watering can sparingly and let the bale dry in between.

Extraction Instructions

Heliotropium arborescens is a plant that wants to be outside and bloom. However, she should take the long way out in many small steps. From March, start preparing the vanilla plant for the upcoming move.

  • Gradually place the plant warmer
  • parallel to this, the brightness must also increase
  • If the temperatures allow, put them outside for a while
  • Increase watering frequency
  • supply with liquid long-term fertilizer

Only after the ice saints can the vanilla flower finally go outside, on the balcony or terrace. Some owners even dig them in the garden together with the pot. However, it must not be exposed unprepared to strong, direct sunlight. You have to get used to it gradually beforehand.


The vanilla flower does not have to be repotted after each winter. But if it needs a larger pot or fresh substrate, the best time to do so is at the end of the winter. Their roots must not be shortened, and if possible not accidentally damaged. The vanilla flower is extremely sensitive to this.

Note: If you decide to repot the vanilla plant, the new substrate will provide it with sufficient nutrients for a while. In this case, you should only start fertilizing at a later point in time.

To cut

Pruning after overwintering is not a requirement intended to encourage more branching or more buds. The scissors are only used to eliminate the “damage” of the winter. Only the sick, weak and dead shoots are removed.

Almost at the same time as the vanilla flower, other plants that are also not hardy and come from the winter quarters are given a new pruning. Therefore, you should make sure that you have clean and disinfected scissors. Otherwise diseases can be transmitted unintentionally from plant to plant.

Notes on variety selection

A number of breeds have emerged from the original plant. These are also not hardy and must be overwintered if they are to remain alive for more than a year. In the winter quarters, however, they are far more sensitive than “the original” and occasionally do not survive this time, or at least not well.

In addition to the variety, the birthplace of a specimen also determines its robustness. Specimens grown in Germany are much hardier than vanilla plants imported for sale from warm regions. Both show that the selection of the plant also has an influence on its overwintering ability that should not be underestimated.

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