Vanilla and spice grown in Dutch greenhouses

Flowers more exotic than the humble tulip will soon flourish for the first time in Dutch greenhouses after intensive research into growing the capricious vanilla orchid to harvest one of the world's most expensive spices.

In the middle of potato fields in a central Dutch rural town, scientists from Wageningen University have for the past four years been nurturing vanilla orchids. And their research has been deemed a success.

"Based on our information, businesses believe vanilla is a plant with a lot of potential for Dutch greenhouses and have decided to start growing it," said researcher Filip van Noort.

How many orchids will be planted will be decided at the start of the next growing season in the spring, and it will take at least three years before the first Dutch-grown vanilla hits the market.

In Bleiswijk, home to the ground-breaking research, vines from about 100 plants stretch metres high in hot, tropical greenhouses. Hidden under fleshy, oval-shaped leaves are the buds, that will eventually become the vanilla pods so prised by chefs the world over.

"The challenge is to ensure the plants blossom and then to be able to pollinate them in a cost-effective way," said van Noort.

Read more at phys.org

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