Miltonia and Miltoniopsis
The genus Miltonia counts some species of orchids of South American origin, almost all originating from the Brazilian woods; the genus miltoniopsis includes some tens of species of orchids of South American origin, characterized by having fragrant flowers, which in shape and color are reminiscent of pansies. The two genus are often confused, and are generally considered as a whole, since the similarity of the two names often confuses the species, making them attribute to a genus rather than to the latro. In the nursery we generally find hybrids, which most often derive from the genus Miltoniopsis.
These plants do not have very dissimilar cultivation requirements, it is in any case good to get information immediately, when buying a plant, what kind it is, so as to better know its cultivation needs.
These orchids produce thick and fleshy pseudobulbs, joined together by short rhizomatous roots, which often come out of the ground; the leaves and pseudobulbs are light in color, they become dark green only when placed in areas with poor lighting. They have thin and delicate roots, this characteristic is to be considered when repotting the plants, because it can happen that healthy plants are completely compromised by a repotting that damages the roots.
Miltonia and Miltoniopsis cultivation requirements
The cultivation needs of the two genera are similar, so it is possible to treat them together.
They are epiphytic plants, that is, they do not have their roots in the soil, but in leaves or other vegetation that lurk at the bifurcations of trees, or in the crevices between rocks; therefore, for these plants we will choose a typical substrate for orchids: pieces of cortex, sphagnum blocks, perlite, pumice stone, portions of fresh soil. It is not necessary to place the plants in excessively large pots, but remember that the pseudobulbs develop producing rhizomes some centimeters long, to then produce a new pseudobulb; therefore we try to leave a certain space to our plants, so that they can develop freely.
How to grow miltonia and miltoniopsis
These orchids are native to the rainforests, so they are not used to a very high brightness, as in nature large evergreen trees provide continuous and constant shading; they are therefore positioned in well-lit areas, but far from the direct rays of the sun. We can easily understand if the brightness is the right one, as the foliage changes color rapidly depending on the amount of light: if the leaves are light green, sometimes almost acid green, the orchids receive the right brightness; if the position is too dark, the foliage will tend to become dark green; if the brightness is excessive, on the other hand, the leaves will burn, showing almost reddish zoning. The Miltonie and Miltoniopsis love moist and fresh places, therefore they need regular and constant watering, so as to keep the substratum always slightly damp; we water every time the soil tends to dry out, avoiding to keep it constantly saturated and soaked with water. The Miltonias are plants that like a warm climate, so they should be grown at home throughout the year, and even in winter we water regularly, especially when the heating system is active. The Miltoniopsis are instead plants that in nature develop in hilly or mountainous areas, with cool or even cold winter climate; for this reason in winter they should be kept in places with maximum temperatures below 10 ° C, but above 5-8 ° C; generally these plants are placed in a cold greenhouse, not having a greenhouse they can be grown in an unheated stairwell, or in the coolest room in the house. With these temperatures the Miltoniopsis enter in vegetative rest, for this reason more are in the cold and less water need; if grown in apartments, with winter lows above 15-18 ° C, these orchids quickly stop flowering.
An orchid at home
As with many other houseplants, many of the orchids grown in the apartment are also plants of tropical origin; in nature these plants are used to a hot climate in summer, and cool in winter, with high environmental humidity all year round.
In an apartment in winter the climate is certainly not tropical: domestic heating in fact leads to excessively dry the air of the house, making it similar to that present in the summer in the garden.
For this reason it often happens that our plants in winter take on a sad and suffered appearance, with opaque leaves, scarce vegetation, often absent flowering.
For this reason, if we want to grow healthy and lush plants we can choose between two ways:
- It is possible to place the plants in a closed terrarium, so as to be able to modify the climate around the plants effectively and quickly. In a terrarium it is possible to keep the environmental humidity controlled, also using appropriate measuring instruments. Being a closed structure, it is easy to increase its environmental humidity, through vaporisations, or with a humidifier. As for the orchids, it is also possible, in the terrarium, to check the brightness received, which can be increased with the use of special lamps.
- if we do not want to manage a terrarium, it will be necessary to keep the ambient humidity high throughout the room in which the plants are placed; first of all it is good to try to position the plants away from radiators, fireplaces, convectors, floor heating joints. Secondly, where possible, it would be advisable to grow all our houseplants in the same room, and maybe even nearby. This is because the water that evaporates from the pot increases the humidity of the neighboring plants; in addition to this we find it easier to change the humidity of just one room, rather than doing it for all the rooms that contain plants.
The environmental humidity is increased by vaporizing the foliage of the plants; leaving the plants in large pots, with a few centimeters of water on the bottom, and with gravel that keeps the pots lifted by the water itself; using a humidifier, which constantly injects water into the air, micro vaporising it.