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Growing Miltonia Orchids

Miltonia Kayasimae
The rare Miltonia Kayasimae

The Miltonia orchids are intermediate climate orchids. These orchids are found in its natural habitat in places like Brazil and to a lesser extent in Columbia and Ecuador as well where the Miltoniopsis orchid tends to thrive since they are slightly cooler-growing orchids.

The everyday name of the Miltonia orchids is the Pansy Orchids. This is due to the Miltonia orchid flower resembling the Violas of Pansies as they are fondly known as. These orchids have been named after Earl Fitzwilliam and Viscount Milton. These charming irresistible orchid plants are prolific bloomers and will reward the orchid cultivator with much pleasure and beauty. Slender arching stems bear richly colored, fragrant flowers. The rich colors of the Pansy Orchid flowers can range from lovely reds, white, pink with different colored markings to yellow. Although the orchid flowers may last for approximately six weeks, their bloom time is as short as that of a cut flower.

Oncidium orchids and Odontoglossum orchids are close allies to both the Miltonia orchid and the Miltoniopsis orchid. This makes these two orchid species great specimens for hybridization purposes. Due to this close alliance there are many exciting intergeneric hybrids that are being bred by orchid growers in their home orchid gardens.

Cultivation

The Miltonia orchid is a Brazilian orchid that has lush, lime-green leaves and tend to be somewhat elongated. The Miltonia orchid has a rhizome between each new bulb. Similar to the Miltoniopsis orchid, the Miltonia orchid will also thrive in pots that are placed on a cork raft of even in a slatted wooden basket. Akin to the baskets used in the basket culture of the Vanda orchids and the Ascocenda orchids. The orchid flower shapes are full and round, very much like the Pansy with a lovely rose-type scent. There are usually one or two orchid flowers on a stem. However, as a dedicated orchid grower you can cultivate your orchid plant into a specimen that will become large and be capable of bearing several inflorescences. These orchid flowers will all flower at the same time and thus create a wonderful show to reward you for all the effort that you put into keeping, maintaining and growing orchids.

Temperature

The Miltonia orchid is capable of tolerating a temperature range of between 15 and 30° Celsius (that is between 59 and 86° Fahrenheit). They will thrive in a warm, bright sunny climate. Thus if you intend cultivating Miltonia orchids then you should make use of a sunny position in a greenhouse to do so successfully.

Light

Miltonia orchids prefer to have some shade in the middle of the day when the sun is at its peak for them. Direct sun is bound to burn their beautiful foliage. If you make use of a 50% shade cloth then you would have achieved the ideal light conditions for Miltonia orchid cultivation and in this case you would not be far off in providing the right light conditions for the Phalaenopsis orchids (the Moth orchids) or the Lady Slipper orchids (the Paphiopedilum orchids).

Water and humidity

It is known that the Miltonia orchids prefer frequent watering and will thrive in high humidity. But even so, they absolutely detest wet feet. When growing orchids of this type you should make allowance for good air movement. Good air movement is vital for the Miltonia orchid so as to maintain the orchid plant’s good health. You need to keep the air in a greenhouse buoyant to help the Miltonia orchids keep dry if you are keeping them in a greenhouse. (Tip: Make use of a fan to keep the air buoyant.) You should water your Miltonia orchid plants every other day during the summer months and petering out to once or twice a week during the winter months. This particular orchid plant will grow throughout the year provided that you keep it evenly moist.

Feeding

The feeding regime for cultivated Miltonia orchids resembles closely the feeding regime of the Miltoniopsis orchid. If you are capable of maintaining an Odontoglossum orchid, then you are more than capable of maintaining a Miltonia orchid as their feeding regime is basically the same. You need to provide your Miltonia orchid with a regular dose of 30:10:10 high nitrogenous-based orchid fertilizer. This is essential as it will help the orchid plant to grow new roots and foliage after repotting. Follow this up with a 18:18:18 general feed during the summer to plump up the bulbs to ensure that your Miltonia orchid will have enough reserves to last throughout autumn. In this time (that is during autumn) feed your Miltonia with a bloom booster that has a high potash content.

Pests and Diseases

Pests and diseases such as scale, spider mite and red-spider mite, aphids and thrips make up the worst of the afflictions that your Miltonia orchid can suffer. It is much the same as the Miltoniopsis orchids in this case. You always have to be on the lookout for these pests and deal with them before you lose your orchid plants to them.

Potting mix and Repotting

The Miltonia orchids that come from Brazil are happy to be grown and cultivated in baskets. The same type of basket that is used in the basket culture of Vanda orchids is suitable for Miltonia orchid culture. These slated baskets filled with coarse bark and sphagnum moss will make the ideal potting mix for Miltonia orchid culture. Alternatively you could also attach your Miltonia orchid plants to a cork raft – the raft culture. (Tip: When making use of cork rafts do place a little sphagnum moss between the orchid plant and the raft – this sphagnum cushion will facilitate quicker attachment of the plant to the raft.)

Miltonia orchids can be quite fussy and do not like to be separated into smaller divisions. If you divide your Miltonia orchid too small, then the orchid plant is sure to deteriorate and die. For this reason they also do not like to be repotted. Making use of basket or raft culture will circumvent the problem. Raft culture is actually ideal since it requires the minimum intervention and handling. Miltonia orchids can be left on a raft for years without requiring intervention. On the other hand the basket culture is quite convenient too since the orchid plant can be placed basket and all in a bigger basket.

General tips for Miltonia Orchid care

  • The Miltonia orchid loves frequent watering, but do allow the compost to dry just to the point of dampness before applying the next dose of water to your orchid plant.
  • Watering of the Miltonia orchids should be done with the utmost care as not to allow water to stand in the leaves else soft rot may occur.
  • Refrain from fertilizing the orchid plants during the autumn and winter months.
  • Mist your orchid plants on a regular basis because humidity is vital to its survival.
  • Miltonia orchids are known to grow throughout the entire year and must be kept evenly moist.
  • Miltonia orchids may be a little difficult to grow, but if the necessary temperature and lighting requirements are provided, they can be grown in the home orchid garden or greenhouse.
  • The leaves on the Miltonia plant should be light green. Thus: if the leaves are dark green, increase lighting and if the leaves turn yellowish green or reddish, increase shading.