orchids, which are also known as pansy orchids,
owing to their similarity to garden pansies, are
enjoying increasing popularity. Miltoniopsis are
cool-growing orchids that originate in the higher
elevations of the Andes in Colombia, Panama and
Ecuador. The warmer-growing species, properly
miltonias, originate from the Minas Gerais area
of Brazil and more closely resemble
large-flowered oncidiums. Their flowers can be
L I G H T
should be relatively shaded. Direct sunlight
burns the thin leaves within a short period of
time. However, the warmer-growing types prefer
more light than their cooler-growing relatives.
The cool-growing species need approximately 1,200
foot-candles, while the warmer-growing species
require closer to 2,000 foot-candles.
T E M P E R A T U R E
is critical for the cool-growing plants. Unless
temperatures are kept under 80 F, they may not
flower. The minimum temperature is 50 to 55 F.
Thus, these are really better thought of as
intermediate growers because they need
intermediate temperatures throughout the year --
not too hot, not too cold. The warmer growers
will take temperatures over 90 F as long as
humidity levels of 70 to 75 percent, or higher,
are maintained. The minimum temperature is 60 F.
W A T E R must
be plentiful and the medium must drain perfectly.
In their native habitat, the plants are drenched
almost daily and, because of this, they are
intolerant of salt buildup, so leaching every
fourth or fifth watering is important when
growing in pots. When they are not getting enough
water or humidity, the leaves have a tendency to
grow with accordionlike pleats. The
warmer-growing miltonias should be grown like
cattleyas; allow them to approach dryness between
waterings. They also tend to be slightly more
tolerant of salt buildup than their Colombian
cousins so they can dry more between 5 waterings.
H U M I D I T Y
must be at least 70 percent because of the
plants' need for abundant water. Less humidity
will stress the plants and can lead to
susceptibility to disease, though too much
humidity is worse than too little.
F E R T I L I Z E
at the same level as other orchids:
half-strength, balanced fertilizer every two
weeks. This can be reduced by half during
overcast weather or in winter. A 10-30-20
blossom-booster formulation is beneficial in
early spring when plants approach their flowering
P O T T I N G
should be done after flowering when the new
growth is starting. Miltoniopsis should be
repotted every year as they are intolerant of
stale conditions. The cool growers (miltoniopsis)
do well in small pots. The warmer growers
(miltonias) tend to have a relatively elongated
creeping habit and, therefore, do better mounted.
Any potting mix suitable for fine roots such as
70 percent seedling bark with charcoal and
perlite or a mix of 70 percent tree fern and 30
percent chopped sphagnum is adequate. Mounts may
be cork, tree fern or other hard wood. They
should be longer than wide. For some reason,
shallow pans work better than deep pots.
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