Miltonia is one of the easiest orchids to find on the market: it immediately attracts our attention for its large and colorful flowers, similar to those of pansies. Its cultivation, however, is rather demanding given that it requires constant care and environmental conditions that are not always easy to reproduce. It is therefore recommended especially for those who are already familiar with this type of plants.
To the genre miltonia belong about 20 species, divided into two different families of orchids, the Miltonia from Brazil and the Miltoniopsis from Colombia and the Perщ; besides they belong to the genus miltonia also hundreds of hybrids, both natural and artificial. The miltoniopsis have large fragrant flowers and bright colors, similar to very large pansies; the miltonia instead generally have star-shaped flowers, greenish in color, with brown or purple spots. From the pseudobulbs, narrow, long and thin leaves of a nice light green branch off.
In spring and autumn, from the new pseudobulbs a long stem emerges on which numerous flowers of great aesthetic impact and splendid bloom to make one's house or garden an exclusive and welcoming place.
Classification, origins and description of Miltonia
The genus Miltonia (belonging to the Orchidaceae family) includes approximately 25 species (including some hybrids) all from Latin America. Their environment of origin is the fresh Andean highlands on the border between Brazil, Perщ, Colombia and Bolivia, at altitudes between 300 and 2500 m, where they grow clinging to the tops of the trees.
They have lance-shaped leaves that depart directly from the pseudobulbs present at the base, pear-shaped.
In nature, flowering is almost always spring: the stem is emitted by the leaf axil and can carry from 3 to 10 very large, colorful and extremely fragrant flowers.
The growers have obtained over time a large number of very prolific commercial hybrids, equipped with very large, perfumed corollas and in an infinite number of colors: they are also easier to grow.
THE CALENDAR OF MILTONIA
Spring or autumn / hybrids several times a year
|Irrigation||Frequent, every 7-10 days|
|Composting||Monthly or fortnightly|
|Division||End of winter|
|repotting||End of winter, every year|
Both types prefer not too bright exposures. The ideal would be to find them one placement near a window facing West or, at the extreme, East. However, the light must always be filtered, especially from mid-spring to the end of September: it is advisable to place a light-colored thick curtain in front of the glass.
An easy way to monitor the accuracy of our location is to observe the color of the leaves. The plants in full health have a nice bright light green; if it gets too dark it's because we have chosen a position that is too dark; on the other hand too much sun causes generalized yellowing, dehydration and, in extreme cases, localized burns.
The miltonie need luminous positions, but far from the direct rays of the sun that can cause the burns of the leaves; usually if the leaves tend to become very dark green we try to place them in a brighter place, but if they tend to turn yellow, the plant moves to a slightly more shaded area.
In summer they can be placed in the garden or on the terrace of the house, in a shaded outdoor place, possibly at the base of trees or shrubs, so that they enjoy the shade and at the same time are protected from winds and possible storms. The ideal growth temperature for miltonias is around 18-20 ° C, while miltoniopsis can easily withstand even at slightly lower temperatures.
Both adapt with difficulty to life in the home or apartment: to thrive they would need special environments where it is possible to regulate environmental temperature and humidity, with good variations between day and night, especially in summer.
The miltonia in winter requires temperatures between 10 and 12 ° C (in the house rooms that are not very heated are fine); in summer the thermometer must mark about 25 ° C during daylight hours to drop to 16-18 ° C at night (for example a bedroom with air conditioner).
The Miltoniopsis in winter requires temperatures from 8 ° to 12 ° C: in the ideal summer it is instead a room with about 20 ° C by day and 15 ° C in the night.
Humidity and aeration
A very important factor for the health of our orchids is the rate of environmental humidity. In this case it is important that it never falls below 65%. At home, unfortunately, it is not an easy goal to achieve, but an important help can come from electric nebulizers and frequent manual sprays. Also useful are the saucers filled with expanded clay and water to be placed near our vase. Let us remember that environmental humidity must increase in proportion to temperatures.
Even good aeration is important to avoid the onset of fungal diseases: we keep the vessels as much as possible outside, compatibly with temperatures. Otherwise we often change the air, but we absolutely avoid the cold currents, cause of sudden withering and abortion of stems and buds.
Watering and irrigation
The miltonie need a lot of water, possibly supplied frequently, but avoiding the water stagnation that could ruin the very thin and delicate roots of our orchid. Remember to water these orchids at least twice a week, throughout the year, never letting the mixture dry, and increasing the frequency of watering when necessary. If the waterings are too scarce, it may happen that the leaves crumple, in this case it is necessary to water the plant as soon as possible, which will produce new leaves, leaving the old ones dry. Remember to increase the environmental humidity by occasionally vaporizing the miltonie with distilled water. Provide specific fertilizer for orchids at least once a month.
The roots must always sink in a moist substrate, but never soaked. The frequency of administration depends on the temperatures and the type of bottom. In general, one intervenes once a week, possibly in the morning. We can pour the water from above or leave the immersed vessel for about half an hour. In any case we will then have to let it go very well. We always avoid to wet the leaf axil where rots are more easily established.
The specimens kept on raft (clinging to pieces of bark) need more frequent interventions, by means of sprayers. For all purposes we always use demineralised, osmotic or rain-bound water.
Cultivation of Miltonia
Miltonia and Miltoniopsis orchids have slightly different needs. The first ones in fact can be classified as temperate greenhouse plants (and are therefore more delicate and demanding); the latter instead live very well in a cold greenhouse and are much more tolerant. We will see in particular the various aspects to be taken into account.
MILTONIA IN BRIEF
|Family, genus, species||Orchidaceae, Miltonia, about 25 species and many hybrids|
|Type of plant||Epiphytic flowering plant|
|irrigations||Frequent, demineralized water|
|fertilizing||Every 15 or 30 days|
|Resistance to cold||Enough (some up to 8 ° C)|
|Place of cultivation||Cold or temperate greenhouse|
|Exposure||Slightly luminous (West exposure)|
|Environmental humidity||High: about 70%|
|Container||Vase or raft|
|Substrate||Bark, coconut and palm fibers, a little peat|
|Height||Up to 50 cm|
|Flowers||on stems, up to 10|
|colors||White, pink, orange, red, brown|