Miltonia Culture

Miltonias have gained a reputation for being difficult to grow. However, their culture is basic and the rewards of growing this beautiful genera are many. Below are a few notes on the successful culture of these plants.

LIGHT: Miltonias prosper under light intensities just below the needs of Cattleyas. They require about the same light as mottled leaf Paphiopedilums. This would be about 900 to 1000 foot candles. If the plant is in flower it is wise to place it in a area of less illumination to preserve flower quality.

WATER: They should never be allowed to dry out. They should be kept moist but not too wet over a long period of time or the roots will rot. Pot should have sufficient drainage holes to help prevent root deterioration.

TEMPERATURES: The ideal temperature should be kept below 85 F. and above 68 F. if possible. If the temperature rises above this limit, shade and humidity should be increased. The night temperature should be in the 58 F. to 60 F. range. A differential of about 10 F. between day and night temperature is very beneficial.

HUMIDITY: The relative humidity that is recommended is 50 to 70%. As the temperature during the day rises, with increased light intensity, the relative humidity should be increased. Miltonias appreciate being "fogged" on sunny days. In nature these plants are found in cloud forests where it rains daily.

VENTILATION: Miltonias like good air circulation, as do all orchids. Air circulation allows the plants to absorb more light without burning since the leaf temperature is reduced. The air circulation can be provided by fan, open vents, or cooling system. The circulation of cool moist air is beneficial to these plants.

POTTING: These plants are grown in many different mixes and containers. Whichever medium is used, it should retain moisture and at the same time provide excellent drainage. Generally, the mix is composed of fine fir bark, plus additives such as approx. 10% small sized charcoal, or 15% perlite. Miltonias like to be repotted yearly during the cool season, preferably when the new growth is approx. 2" tall. Miltonias resent over-potting. A small pot, with good drainage will allow the free watering that Miltonias prefer without the consequences of a soggy mix. Use plastic pots if possible. Miltonias are very susceptible to root damage caused by salt accumulation of which occurs in clay pots. A Miltonia prefers to grow into good sized clumps before dividing. It will produce more, and better flowers if left in a large clump.

FERTILIZING: Feed a one quarter strength solution of 20-20-20 or 18-18-18 fertilizer every other watering. During active growing season this may be applied at every watering.

PESTS AND DISEASES: Miltonias are susceptible to the same pests as most other orchids. Modern insecticides will handle most pest problems but they must used with caution as these plants have tender foliage and will "burn". Poor culture will cause fungal and bacterial rots. Treat these areas with fungicide and remove bad portions with a sterile knife.

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