Miltonia – Miltonia – Orchids – Miltonia – Orchids


Classification, origins and description of Miltonia

fiore di miltonia The genus Miltonia (belonging to the family Orchidaceae) includes about 25 species (including some hybrids) all from Latin America. Their native environment is the fresh highlands of the Andes on the border between Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Bolivia, at altitudes between 300 and 2500 m, where they grow clinging to the tops of trees.

They have lance-shaped leaves which depart directly from the pseudobulbs present at the base, in the shape of a pear.

In nature, flowering is almost always springtime: the stem is emitted from the foliar armpit and can carry from 3 to 10 very large, colourful and extremely fragrant flowers.

The floriculturists have obtained, in the time, a great number of very prolific commercial hybrids, provided with very big corollas, perfumed and in an infinity of colours: they are, furthermore, easier to cultivate.



 Spring or autumn/ hybrids several times a year


 Frequently, every 7-10 days


 Monthly or fortnightly


 End of winter


 End of winter, every year

Vegetative rest

 Not necessary

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pianta MiltoniaBoth types prefer exposures that are not too bright. The ideal would be to find them a location near a window facing west or, at the limit, east . The light must always be filtered, especially from mid spring to late September: it is advisable to place a thick curtain in front of the glass in a light color.

An easy way to monitor the accuracy of our location is to observe the color of the leaves. Healthy plants have a beautiful bright light green; if it becomes too dark it is because we have chosen a too dark position; on the contrary, too much sun causes generalized yellowing, dehydration and, in extreme cases, localized burns.

The miltonias need luminous positions, but far from the direct rays of the sun that can cause the leaves to burn; 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, we move the plant to an area that is a little more shaded.

In summer they can be placed in the garden or on the terrace of the house, in a shady outdoor area, possibly at the base of trees or shrubs, so that they enjoy the shade and at the same time are protected from winds and thunderstorms. The ideal growth temperature for the miltons is around 18-20°C, while the miltoniopsis can withstand without problems even at slightly lower temperatures.


Both are difficult to adapt to life in the home or apartment: to thrive they would need special environments in which it is possible to regulate ambient temperature and humidity, with good variations between day and night, especially in summer.

Miltonia in winter requires temperatures between 10 and 12°C (poorly heated rooms at home are fine); in summer the thermometer must mark about 25°C during the daytime hours to drop to 16-18°C at night (for example a bedroom with air conditioning).

The Miltoniopsis in winter requires temperatures from 8 ° to 12 ° C: in summer is ideal instead a room with about 20 ° C during the day and 15 ° C at night.

Humidity and ventilation

miltonia delle hawai A very important factor for the health of our orchids is the level of ambient humidity. In this case it is important that it never falls below 65%. In the home, unfortunately, it is not an easy goal to achieve, but an important help can come from electric sprayers and frequent manual vaporization. Also useful are the saucers full of expanded clay and water to be placed near our pot. Let’s remember that the ambient humidity must increase in proportion to the temperatures.

A good ventilation is also important to avoid the onset of fungal diseases: let’s keep the vessels outside as much as possible, compatibly with the temperatures. Otherwise, we often change the air, but we absolutely avoid cold currents, which cause sudden withering and abortion of stems and buds.

Watering and irrigation

orchidea miltona The miltonia need a lot of water, possibly frequently supplied, but avoiding water stagnations 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 compound dry, and increasing the frequency of watering when necessary.

If the watering is too scarce, it can 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 to dry up. Remember to increase the ambient humidity by occasionally vaporizing the miltons with distilled water. Provide specific fertilizer for orchids at least once a month.

The roots must always sink into a moist substrate, but never soggy. The frequency of administration depends on the temperature and the type of substrate. As a general rule, we intervene once a week, possibly in the morning. We can pour water from above or leave the pot for about half an hour underwater. In any case, we should then let it drain very well. Let’s always avoid wetting the foliar armpit where rottenness is more easily established.

The specimens kept on rafts (clinging to pieces of bark) require more frequent interventions, with sprayers. For all purposes, we always use demineralised, osmotic or rainy water.

Cultivation of Miltonia

Miltonia and Miltoniopsis orchids have slightly different needs. The former can be classified as temperate greenhouse plants (and are therefore more delicate and demanding), while the latter live very well in cold greenhouses and are much more tolerant. We will see in particular the various aspects to be taken into account.


Famiglia, genere, specie

 Orchidaceae, Miltonia, circa 25 specie e molti ibridi

Tipo di pianta

 Pianta da fiore, epiphytes




 Frequenti, acqua demineralizzata


 Fire 15 at 30 giorni.



Resistenza al freddo

 Abbastanza (alcune fino a 8°C)

Luogo di coltivazione

 Serra fredda with a temperature of


 Poco luminosa (esposizione ad Ovest)

Umidità ambientale

 Alta: circa 70 %.


 Vaso about the blockage


 Bark, fibre of cocco and palm, a po’ di bag


 Fino a 50 cm


 su steeli, fino a 10


 Bianco, rosa, arancio, rosso, marrone


 Molto profumatia



Terreno and Concimazione

For when it comes to terrain, use a specific compost for orchids, costiting from incorporated material such as corteccia or fibre di osmunda. These orchids need to be repotted at least every year, after flowering, without necessarily increasing the size of the pot.

During the vegetative period they need a good support: it is essential to use a specific fertilizer for orchids with balanced macroelements: NPK 20-20-20. We can administer it once a month at full dose or every 15 days by halving it. Let’s make sure we have wetted the roots well before proceeding: we will avoid dangerous burns. During the winter period it is advisable to suspend the administration for about 2 months.


orchidea moltiplicazione In autumn or early spring you can multiply our plant, dividing the heads of pseudobulbs, taking care to keep some leaves and some vigorous roots for each portion practiced. The new plants should be immediately buried in individual containers to ensure better growth of the new plants.

Pests and diseases

Apart from the problems due to lack of water, miltons do not get sick easily; occasionally they are attacked by aphids and cochineals. In this case, use specific pesticide products to eliminate the problem found in the best garden centers or nurseries.


miltonia Usually these plants are found on the market in the period when they bloom naturally. Let’s evaluate the general condition of the plant before buying it, paying particular attention to the roots: they must be full-bodied, without signs of rottenness, but not even dehydrated.

Repotting should preferably be done at the beginning of spring, every year.

This will allow the roots to have space to expand and good air circulation, which is essential to prevent rottenness. In the event of an emergency, action can be taken at any time of the year.

The ideal substrate is similar to that for phalaenopsis: bark (pine bark) of small and medium size mixed with other material such as vegetative fibers (coconut, palm). We can also add a little peat and sphagnum.

Pruning and cleaning of Miltonia

The only essential operation is the cutting of the flower stem. Let’s work as soon as the corollas begin to wither: in this way we will avoid weakening the plant. Damaged or dry leaves can be removed at the base.

How to treat damaged or dehydrated roots?

miltoniopsis If the roots are damaged or dehydrated, it is a good idea to carry out a treatment called “sphagnum therapy” to save the plant. First of all, it is necessary to clean perfectly all rotten or damaged parts, in the roots or in the collar. Then we prepare a “bath” with water and specific fungicide (very suitable propamocarb) and leave the roots immersed for at least 2 hours. We extract it and let it dry well in a newspaper.

We prepare some sphagnum leaving it in water, so that it becomes soft and wet: it will then be wrung out very well. Cover a vase with sphagnum and place the roots inside. Close with plastic and keep at about 25°C. Let’s eliminate any leaves that may turn yellow. In about a month the plant will begin to vegetate again. Once the root system has been restored, we will return to normal cultivation.

Miltonia: Species and varieties of Miltonia

miltonia flavescens The first hybrid (Miltonia vexillaria x roezlii) was registered in 1889 and since then more than 2000 have been produced, again between these two species.

Later, many intergenetic hybrids with Oncidium orchids (called Miltonidium) were also obtained. However, there were many crossbreeds, giving rise to many botanical and commercial names.

Here are some of the most common or interesting species and hybrids.

Miltonia clowesii

It produces brown and pink flowers, between September and October, collected in groups of 10. The flower stem is very wide and long. It wants a cold climate in winter and warm in summer. Originally from the highlands of Brazil.

Miltonia flavescens

It brings beautiful orange and fragrant flowers, from spring to summer. The stem reaches 40 cm in length. Easy to grow in Europe because it likes cold in winter and hot in summer.

Miltonia spectabilis

Small, it produces, by the end of the summer, a stem long up to 20 cm, which has only one flower, very big, pink, very perfumed.


Miltoniopsis phalaenopsis

It has flower stems about 20 cm long with up to 5 white flowers streaked with purple that bloom at the end of summer. Small in size, it wants a temperate climate, very humid and very shady, almost dark position.

Miltoniopsis vexillaria

Stem up to 50 cm long, very arched and erect. It has up to 10 very large pink flowers, produced in spring and sometimes also in autumn. It wants a cool climate and a lot of humidity.

Miltoniopsis warscewiczii

Medium in size, it has a stem up to 30 cm long with up to 6 large white, flat flowers. It can produce them in spring and also in autumn. Wants cool and very humid climate


Orchidee Phalaenopsis

Potare orchidea

Orchidee rare