5. 1 MILTONIOPSIS CULTURE
The Miltoniopsis or "Colombian" type species come from comparatively high altitude Andean cloud forests.
These plants live in an "eternal spring", enjoying even temperatures with plenty of air movement.
The Miltoniopsis species generally do not appreciate the cooler treatment enjoyed by Odontoglossums, especially
those of the "crispum " type. A night temperature of 12 0C (54 0F) is a good minimum
although this can drop to 10 0C (50 0F) if the plants are kept on the dry side, but not bone
dry! Young plants will, however, appreciate temperatures some 3 - 5 0C higher for best results. It is
often said that it is the day temperatures which is critical for Miltoniopsis to be successfully cultivated. They
appreciate good light, and the skill of the good grower is the ability to provide this without allowing temperatures
to get out of hand. Maximum day temperatures should not exceed 30 - 33 0C (86 - 91 0F). Miltoniopsis
are best described as "moderate" growers because they prefer not to be subjected to extremes. If increased
light and temperatures are unavoidable, increasing the relative humidity will assist in preventing the plants becoming
over stressed, although this is often difficult to achieve in practice.
Miltoniopsis need good light levels to flower well; not as high as for Cattleyas, but around the same as for the
mottled leaved Paphiopedilums. These plants when in good health, have light green foliage; darker green foliage
is an indication of insufficient light.
These plants have a fine and very extensive root system, which will rapidly fill the pot under good conditions.
Because of this, they like an open, well-drained growing medium. While not liking to be wet around the roots, they
need fairly high humidity to complement the open mix. Because of the constant moisture, the compost will often
be spent after twelve months, and will need replacing. Repotting can generally be done in the spring before the
summer lull in plant growth, or in the autumn when the plants put on their late season growth. As for many orchids,
the development and maintenance of a healthy root system is most important. With their relatively fine roots, they
like to be evenly moist - "if one feels the plant will be dry TOMORROW, it should be watered TODAY."
Because of the necessity of having a well-drained, but moisture-retentive mix, the use of medium fur bark, with
some charcoal is best. The inclusion of some sphagnum, finely chopped, can also impart desirable attributes to
the mix. It is worth noting that the overall culture is more important than the specific composition of a particular
The use of small pots in relation to the plant size helps allow the liberal watering without the consequences of
a soggy, sodden mix.
Fertilisers can be applied, at around half strength, using any balanced preparation.
Fungal and bacterial rot can be a problem, although often only when the plants have been allowed to run down, or
some aspect of the culture is unsatisfactory; improve this unsatisfactory element and often the problem will rectify
It has been suggested that failure with these plants can arise for the following reasons:
1. INADEQUATE HEAT. They must have a winter night temperature averaging not lower than 12 "C (54 "F).
2. HIGH TEMPERATURES COUPLED WITH LOW HUMIDITY. This tends to happen during the late spring and summer, especially
in smaller glasshouse.
3. TOO DRY. When this occurs, both at the roots and in the atmosphere, it causes excessive dehydration, usually
indicated by shriveling of the pseudobulbs and concertina folding of the new growths.
4. NOT ENOUGH SHADE, resulting in extreme leaf loss and shriveling of the pseudobulbs.
5. OVER WATERING -- which leads to the loss of roots and the subsequent degeneration of the whole plant.
5.2 MILTONIA CULTURE
It is often said that the Brazilian Miltonias are everything their Colombian cousins Miltoniopsis are not; namely
highly adaptable. The Miltonias, as characterised by M. spectabilis, require a minimum night temperature of 16
oC (60 oF), (although 1 have grown them quite a lot cooler than this), light shade and high humidity. Because of
their strong rhizome growth, often these plants can be grown on slabs of tree fern, perhaps with some sphagnum
moss under the rhizome to provide some local humidity. The culture afforded the tropical pseudobulbs. Oncidiums
can suit these plants. A good free draining mix is important, and the plants can be kept drier during the cooler
months. They are often excellent subjects for specimen culture, because often they will break in two growths per
lead with regularity. Large plants can provide a great display in full bloom.
MILTONIA AND MILTONIOPSIS
Introduction & Identification