In a wild state V. fragrans usually grows climbing on trees in wet tropical lowland forests from sea-level to 600 meters. It thrives best in hot, moist, insular climate, with frequent, but not excessive rain. The optimum temperature is 21-32 degrees Celsius, with an average around 27 degrees Celsius and with an evenly distributed rainfall of 2000-2500 mm per annum, but with two drier months to check vegetative growth and bring the vines to flower. Regions with a prolonged dry season should be avoided.
The most suitable land for vanilla is gently sloping with light friable soil, adequate but not excessive drainage, and a thick surface layer of humus or mulch in which the roots can spread. Excessive water is harmful. Partial shade is necessary and this is usually provided by the shrubs or small trees upon which the vines are grown.