Lindl & Godefroy-Lebeuf
Subfamily: - Epidendroideae
Tribe: - Oncidieae
There are about 10 Miltonia species found mostly in Brazil. The most commonly grown species are Miltonia clowesii, cuneata, regnellii and spectabilis.
The name is dedicated to Earl Fitzwilliam, Viscount Milton of Wentworth House, Yorkshire and was established in 1837 by John Lindley in The Botanical Register.
Some species previously referred to Miltonia have been removed to the segregate genera Miltoniopsis and Miltonioides.
A small genus of five species exist in Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador and Colombia.Those generally grown are Miltoniopsis roezlii, phalaenopsis and vexillaria. The name refers to the resemblance of the flowers to those of the genus Miltonia.
The genus Miltoniopsis was established by Godefroy-Lebeuf in 1889 in Orchidophile (9:p.63). However, subsequent authors failed to refer to this name and four of the five species remained in the genus Miltonia. In 1976 L.Garay and G.C.K. Dunsterville in Venezuelan Orchids Illustrated, described a new species as Miltoniopsis santanaei, resurrecting the genus as described in 1889. The species for this genus are treated as Miltonia for hybrid registration purposes.
Miltonia, including Miltoniopsis.
These fabulous orchids are commonly known as pansy orchids, owing to their similarity to pansies and are being grown more and more now as you can buy them from your local garden centre (although mostly they will not be named).
Miltoniopsis are cool-growing orchids that originate in the higher elevations of the Andes in Colombia, Panama and Ecuador. The warmer growing species, the genuine Miltonias, originate from the Minas Gerais area of Brazil and more closely resemble large-flowered oncidiums. The flowers can be wonderfully patterned.
The plants should be relatively shaded about the same as Odontoglossums or slightly less. I could quote Foot-candles, but do they mean anything to most growers?
The warmer-growing types prefer more light than their cooler-growing relatives.
TEMPERATUREThis criterion is critical. Unless the temperature is kept under 85F, they may not flower.
The minimum is 50 to 55F, thus they are thought of more as intermediate growers; and can be up to 90F for the warm growers. Humidity should be 70-75%. Air movement is VERY important. Have a fan going 24/7, just to move the leaves slightly. I have found a £20, 18” fan will last 3-4 years, which is pretty good going.
This should be plentiful and the growing medium should drain perfectly. They are not heavy feeders and will not tolerate salt build up. Feed 1 in 4 and leach heavily with water every 4th watering. I use a high nitrogen feed in Spring/Summer and a high potassium tomato feed in autumn for a couple of months. Let the plants nearly dry out between watering, as you would Cattleyas.
If the humidity is wrong along with the watering you can get the well known pleating of the leaves. We have all experienced this!
When it comes to compost I use a foam/fibrous peat mix which they were growing in, when purchased. The compost can be purchased from Mansell and Hatcher. I have been using this compost for 3 years now and am very happy with it, but you need to repot every 18-24 months, maximum.
It is never too late to start growing Miltonias. I had been growing orchids for 18 years before I gave them a go. Of course most Miltonias /Miltoniopsis plants purchased are hybrids now, as the species are becoming quite scarce. The colours and patterns of the better hybrids are a sight to behold. When in flower try to keep water off of the flowers else they will discolour, overnight.
© Peter Fowler