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The Miltonia/Miltoniopsis Orchid Species

The Pansy Orchid

The Miltonia Orchids look similar to Violas or Pansies, so their nickname is Pansy Orchids. They originated from Brazil, but are also found in Argentina, Paraguay, and Peru. Miltonia's were reclassified as Milioniopsis (Sweet, Amer. Orchid Soc. Bull. 47(10): 917-925) but, they are commonly referred to as miltonias by most collectors and growers. In the past, miltoniopsis were extremely popular with growers. Orchid literature from the late 1800's well into the early part of this century is filled with drawings and photographs of magnificently grown plants covered with flowers. It is hard to understand why these lovely orchids passed from favor with most growers, maybe overshadowed by more elusive species. For whatever reason, their decline in popularity came to be associated with a reputation for being difficult to grow. While miltoniopsis are not among the easiest of orchids, the difficulties they pose can be readily overcome. There are nine different species of the Miltonia Orchid. They are named as Miltonia anceps, M. candida, M. flavescens, M. cuneata, M. spectabilis, M. regnellii, M. russelliana, M. clowesii, and M. kayasimae. Each of these genuses has its own specific and distinctive characteristics and growing needs based on the local environment where they grow naturally.  Some of these Miltonia species are very difficult to grow while others are comparatively easy to cultivate. A novice grower should start with a stronger plant type, such as any Miltonia hybrid. Miltonia Orchids have slim arching stems, vibrant colors varying from bright reds, pink, white with tinted spotting, to a variety of yellows. These flowers have a very short bloom time just like that of a cut flower.   The genus Miltoniopsis was established by Godefroy-Lebeuf in 1889 in honor of Fitzwilliam and Milton. The Miltoniopsis orchids are intermediate climate orchids meaning they may be warm-growing orchids as well as cooler-growing orchids. Although the Miltonia orchids and Miltoniopsis orchids are similar, the distinction between the two is made by referring to the Miltonia orchids as the warmer-growing orchids which come from Brazil, and the Miltoniopsis orchids as the cooler-growing orchids which come from Columbia, Ecuador and Peru. It is easy to distinguish between the two genera, however, as Miltoniopsis has 1-leaved pseudobulbs while the Miltonia has 2-leaved pseudobulbs. The pseudobulbs of Miltoniopsis are tightly clustered, while the pseudobulbs of the Miltonia are widely separated by a long rhizome. Oncidium orchids and Odontoglossum orchids are close allies to both the Miltonia orchid and the Miltoniopsis orchid. This makes these two orchid species great specimens for hybridization purposes. Because of this close alliance there are many exciting intergeneric hybrids that are being cultivated by orchid growers in their home orchid gardens.


Miltonia Orchids are particularly very sensitive to vivid, hot, and direct sunlight. Burn marks starts appearing on their leaves once they are kept in these situations for a long time. Therefore, they should be placed in indirect light.



The suitable temperature for these Orchids range from 75 F to 80 F in the daytime whereas 60 F to 65 F is the perfect temperature for them at night. Keeping the temperature appropriate will make the plant healthier.


Humidity & Water

Miltonia Orchid plant grows throughout the year and should be placed in the humid area. In cold weather, the plant needs to be watered once a week while in hot weather it should be watered twice a week.


Fertilizer & Repotting

Repotting is also important for Miltonia Orchid as they tend to creep and climb over passage of time. The best way is to grow them in basketsloosely filled with chopped sphagnum moss. Miltonias are epiphytes, so they will grow well in a general bark or Orchid mix. They need to be repotted at least once every two years. The Miltonia plant requires to be fed with a regular quantity of 30-10-10 high nitrogenous-based Orchid fertilizer. It should be given once a year for a healthy and rapid growth. Miltonia Orchids can be difficult to grow and cultivate but if they are provided with suitable temperature and appropriate lighting, they can flourish well in the home garden or greenhouse. The attractive and appealing Miltonia Orchid plants are productive bloomers, and are surely reward the Orchid grower with a lot of enjoyment and splendor.