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How to Grow Miltonia

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Miltonia is a genus of evergreen tree-growing (epiphytic) orchids that bear star-shaped, sometimes fragrant flowers on erect racemes. Miltonia are native to tropical regions of Brazil; a related genus Miltoniopsis is very similar but native to the cool regions of Costa Rica and Peru.

Miltonia commonly have white, yellow, or greenish-yellow flowers; the flowers are often marked or spotted. Leaves are linear or oblong-lance-shaped, thin, and pale to dark green

Miltonia naturally grows in trees. They need an epiphytic soil mix or can be grown on bark.

Miltonia is a genus of 15 species native to Brazil. Miltoniopsis is a genus of species. The two genus can be distinguished by the number of leaves they carry on their pseudobulbs; miltonias bear two leaves per pseudobulb, while Miltoniopsis hold only one.

Get to know Miltonia 

  • Plant type: Pernnial orchid
  • Growing zones and range: In containers of epiphytic soil mix, epiphytically on bark, or in slatted baskets. 
  • Hardiness: Zones 14-15
  • Temperature: Room temperaure or warmer
  • Height and width: 9 inches (23cm) tall and wide
  • Foliage: 2 linear, oblong, or oblong-lance-shaped slightly, leathery, thin pale do dark green leaves
  • Flowers: Star-shaped, sometimes fragrant flowers are produced in usually erect racemes from the bases of the pseudobulbs, at various times of the year. 
  • Bloom time: Various times of the year; most summer into autumn. 
  • Uses: Houseplant, tropical gradens
  • Common name: Miltonia
  • Botanical name: Miltonia
  • Family name: Orchidaceae
  • Origin: Warm, moist forests in Brazil 
Yellow Miltonia candida
Yellow Miltonia candida

Where to plant Miltonia 

  • Light: Medium light; foliage will sunburn if it receives too much light. Miltonia must have partial shade in summer if grown outdoors.
  • Soil: Use an epiphytic soil mix or grow on bark or in a slatted bakset.

When to plant Miltonia 

  • Grow Miltonia outdoors only in tropical or subtropical conditions. In cooler regions, grow Miltonia in a warm greenhouse or as a houseplant indoors.

Planting and spacing Miltonia 

  • Space Miltonia 9 inches (23cm) apart.

How to water and feed Miltonia 

  • Water: Water Miltonia freely durng the summer; keep the medium moist. Mist Miltonia once or twice daily.
  • Feeding: Feed Miltonia every third watering with a low nitrogen all-purpose orchid food. 

Miltonia care 

  •  In winter, Miltonia can take full light and should be watered only moderately.
  • Divide Miltonia when the plant fill the pot or flows over the sides.

Miltonia pests and diseases 

  • Miltoinia is prone to aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs.
  • Bacterial soft rot and brown rot, cymbidium mosaic virus, basal stem rot, and leaf rot are common. 

Miltonia propagation 

  • Divide when the plant fills the pot and spill over the sides. 

Miltonia varieties to grow 

  • Miltonia ‘Bluntii’ (M. clowessi x M. spectabilis). Epiphytic hybrid orchid grow 9inches (23cm) tall and wide with elongated pseudobulbs and linear leaves, 6inches (15cm) long; produces racemes of 3-7 star-shaped, fragrant, light yellow flowers in autumn; flowers are 3 inches (8cm) long, with red-brown markings, white lips, and purplish crimson bases.
  • M. candida, syn. Anneliesia candida. Epiphytic orchid grows 9 inches (23cm) tall and wide with oblong-ovoid pseudobulbs and linear-lance-shaped leaves, 12in (30cm); produces racemes of 2-8 star-shaped, greenish yellow flowers in autumn; flowers are 3inches (8cm) across, spotted chestnut-brown and yellow, with lips sometimes flushed white or pink. 
  • M. clowesii. Epiphytic orchid grows 9 inches (23cm) tall and wide with narrowly ovoid pseudobulbs and linear leaves, 12in (30cm) long; bears long racemes of 3-7 star-shaped, greenish yellow flowers in autumn; flowers are 2inches (5cm) across, each barred chestnut-brown, with white lips tinted violet-purple at the bases.
  • M. phalaenopsis. see Miltoniopsis phalaenopsis. 
  • M. roezlii. see Miltoniopsis roezlii. 
  • M. spectabilis. Epiphytic orchid grows 9 inches (23cm) tall and wide; produces elongated pseudobulbs and linear-oblong leaves, 6 inches (15cm) long; bears white, red, or purple flowers, 3 inches (8cm) across, with red or purple lips, each with 3 yellow ridges at the base; flowers are borne singly or occasionally in pairs. Cultivar var. moreliana bears deep plum-purple flowers with deeply veined, rose-streaked and shaded lips. 

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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