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Gliricidia sepium is a widely available tree and one I recommend IMAGE: Green Cover Initiative
By Piero Bianchessi, Former Owner and Operator of Venui Vanilla
A wide number of support plants are suitable to be used for vanilla support.
Goal 1 : to select a suitable support for the vanilla vines to climb
Goal 2 : to supply light, adjustable shade to the vines
When: planning location
(1) It is possible to support/shade the vanilla using living trees or using artificial supports and shade.
(2) Most hard-wood posts or mulch columns used to support the vines are prone to decay and termites, and rarely last through the vanilla production years.
(3) Cement posts are long lasting but are very expensive
(4) On a small or medium plantation a living tree is definitely the easier and most economical solution
The main characteristics for the right vanilla support/shade tree are:
PROPAGATION: to be easily propagated by cuttings bigger than 5cm in diameter
GROWTH : to be fast growing
SHAPING : to have lateral branches easy to shape ‘coat-hanger’ style
PRUNING : to be easy to prune, and quick to regrow
100% PRUNING : to be able to regrow after full pruning
RESISTANCE: to be strong enough to support the vanilla weight and occasional strong winds
ROOTS: to have deep roots that do not compete with the vanilla roots
DISEASES: to be reasonably resistant to pest and diseases