What is a Miltonia?

Dee Saale
Dee Saale

Named after orchidologist Lord Fitzwilliam Milton, miltonia is part of the orchid family. Although it is native to Brazil, there is at least one species that is native to Peru, as well. Because they have become increasingly popular, people across the globe have learned how to grow these warm-weather flowers in homes or greenhouses. Many people combine the miltonia and the miltoniopsis or pansy orchid into one grouping. Although they come from the same family, the miltoniopsis are different plants that originate from cooler areas, such as Costa Rica, Venezuela, Panama, Columbia, and Ecuador.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

Nearly 20 species of miltonia are considered epiphytes. This means that one plant grows on top of another plant without being parasitic or depending on the other plant for sustenance. Because they area epiphytic, they can be grown in orchid bark from a local nursery; however, they grow best when they are mounted on cork, a hard wood plant, or a tree fern. If grown in bark mix, it should be mainly seedling bark or tree fern bark with a little perlite, charcoal, or sphagnum included.

Miltonia are loved for their beautiful flowers that hang down from the plant. The hanging branches produce profuse with flowers that are known to creep in an elongated manner. The blooms are usually egg-shaped or oblong in shape. They can be found in a wide range of colors, such as white, yellow, pink, red, and lilac. The leaves are considered strap-shaped and range in are green to gray in color.

It may be difficult in some areas to get the miltonia orchids to bloom. They should receive about two hours of indirect sunlight each day. If they receive direct sunlight, the leaves will burn quickly; however, without any indirect sunlight, the plants will never grow flowers. They can withstand temperatures that rise above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32.2 degrees Celsius); yet, they must not be in temperatures that fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.56 degrees Celsius). In addition, the humidity level should be maintained at about 75 percent.

One of the main requirements for growing miltonia is water. Unlike the miltoniopsis variety that requires a daily soak of water, the soil of the miltonia should be allowed to be dry between waterings. In addition, these plants are slightly more tolerant to a buildup of salt than the miltoniopsis variety.

Fertilizer is recommended for those growing miltonian orchids and promoting their blooms. It is best if it is only used every other week. In addition, it should be used less frequently during the cold weather months. Although these flowers can be grown all year long, they typically bloom in the fall or spring months.

Dee Saale
Dee Saale

Dee is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She has a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a law degree. Dee is especially interested in topics relating to medicine, legal issues, and home improvement, which are her specialty when contributing to wiseGEEK.

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