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Miltonia
Culture

This article was provided by Charles and Margaret Baker.
Please visit their web site to find out about their Orchid Species Culture books,
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Note:
These articles were originally printed in 1995 in the American Orchid Society Bulletin, part one 64(9):976-985, and part two 64(10):1102-1107.

 

Those Other Miltonias

Charles and Margaret Baker

For many years growers used the name Miltonia to refer to those plants known as the 'cool growing' or 'Colombian' Miltonias. The other members of the genus, mostly from Brazil, were pretty much ignored. Now that the most well known and commonly grown plants have been reclassified to the genus Miltoniopsis, those other Miltonias, the Brazilian species, are left as the only Miltonias.

These Brazilian plants are members of a rather small genus which, according to current thinking, is made up of nine species, Miltonia anceps, M. candida, M. clowesii, M. cuneata, M. flavescens, M. kayasimae, M. regnellii, M. russelliana, and M. spectabilis. Two additional species, which were once considered Miltonias, M. schroederiana and M. warscewiczii, have been reclassified in recent years. They are now known as Oncidium schroederiana and Oncidium fuscatum.

Miltonia species have large, attractive, long lasting flowers and they are generally considered easy to cultivate, but for some reason they have been ignored by most of the orchid community. Some feel that their lack of popularity is probably because they do not look like their more famous and widely grown cousins, Miltoniopsis (pansy orchids). We feel that there must be more to it than this, however. More than 100 years ago, in his coverage of Miltonia candida, Veitch said, "Long known as one of the handsomest of the Brazilian Miltonias, but of which nothing has been recorded of its habitat or of its discovery". About Miltonia cuneata he said, "The first notice of Miltonia cuneata occurred in 1844, at which date it was cultivated by Messrs. Rollisson at their nursery at Tooting; many years afterwards it was sent to M. Verschaffelt's horticultural establishment at Ghent by a French correspondent, M. Pinel, from Brazil. Beyond this not a scrap if information is forthcoming respecting its habitat, its discoverer, or the date of its introduction". He reported this same lack of information for the other species as well, and today there has been very little added to this "wealth" of knowledge.

We are indebted to Louis Hamilton Lima, an AOS member in São José dos Campos, Brazil, for the information he was able to provide on the habitat location and elevation for most of the Brazilian Miltonia species. Without his assistance, we simply could not have selected representative climatological data for these species.

Not only has there been a lack of information about these plants, there has also been some erroneous information floating around. For many years they were referred to as, "the warm-growing Brazilian miltonias" in order to differentiate them from the "cool-growing Colombian miltonias". We now know that the cool-growing Colombian miltonias are, for the most part, actually intermediate to warm growing; and equipped with accurate habitat location and elevation information, we are able see that the warm-growing Brazilian miltonias are, for the most part, not actually warm-growing. Instead, most require cool to intermediate conditions.

Miltonia species have not received the overall attention they deserve, but they are usually found in many of the more complete collections. In addition, specialty breeders have occasionally included them in hybridizing programs. The Brazilian species hybridize easily and well with most Brassia species, which also have 60 chromosomes. On the other hand, Miltonia warscewiczii (now Oncidium fuscatum), which has 56 chromosomes, crosses easily with many Oncidium species. For readers interested in exploring hybridizing with Miltonia species, there have been several excellent articles published on this subject over the last 20 years or so. They are listed in the bibliography at the end of this article. For the most part, the progeny generally possess hybrid vigor, and they tolerate a wide range of temperatures. As a result, they are usually very easy to grow and flower.

Common Cultural Needs

Although Miltonia species are found over a large region, several cultural requirements are common to all the species. We will first look at these common needs, and then take a closer look at the specific requirements of each species.

LIGHT: 1500-3000 fc. Strong air movement is recommended at all times, especially if plants are grown at higher light levels. Growers report Miltonias grow well even in the bright light required by Cattleyas, but their leaves tend to be very yellow when light is high.

HUMIDITY: 80-85% year-round. Not only is rainfall relatively high in the region, but humidity is high because of moisture laden southeast trade winds that blow inland from the ocean. Low clouds, fog, and mist frequently develop from condensation when the warm moist air cools as it is lifted over the mountains. Thus, large amounts of moisture, which is not necessarily reflected by rainfall totals at nearby weather stations, is available to plants growing in the region.

WATER: Although rainfall patterns vary somewhat in the various habitats, the common thread is the absence of a truly dry season. Rainfall in most areas is moderate to heavy from spring into autumn, with somewhat lesser amounts in winter. While rainfall in most habitats is lower in winter, the condensation previously discussed results in additional water being available from frequent mist and heavy deposits of dew.

Cultivated plants should be watered often while actively growing. Water should be gradually reduced in autumn when growths are mature and flowering is completed. During winter, water should be reduced even more, especially for plants grown in the dark, short-day conditions common in temperate latitudes. However, plants should never be allowed to dry out completely. In most growing areas, these conditions may be provided by occasional early morning mistings with a light watering given every two weeks or so, particularly if a period of bright sunny weather is forecast. Fertilizer should be reduced until water is increased in spring.

FERTILIZER: A balanced fertilizer, mixed at 1/4-1/2 recommended strength, should be applied weekly during periods of active growth. Many growers use a fertilizer with lower nitrogen and higher phosphate in late summer and autumn. This improves blooming and encourages new growths to harden before winter. Pots should be leached every few weeks to prevent salt buildup, especially when fertilizer is being applied most heavily. Plants should first be watered normally to dissolve any accumulated salts. An hour or so later, the medium is flushed with water equal to about twice the volume of the pot. Year-round leaching is important in areas with heavily mineralized water.

GROWING MEDIA: Because most Miltonia species have rather rambling growth habits, plants are more easily managed when mounted on slabs of cork or tree-fern fiber. However, high humidity must be maintained, and water should be applied at least daily during the summer. Mounted plants may even need to be watered several times daily during particularly hot, dry weather. Most growers find it difficult to keep mounted plants moist enough in summer, so they are usually grown in baskets or shallow pots filled with an open, fast draining medium based on fine fir bark or tree-fern fiber. Normally, varying amounts of materials such as perlite and charcoal have been added to produce a medium that drains rapidly but still retains some moisture. Undersized pots which are only large enough to hold the roots and allow one to two year's growth should be used. Because the continually moist medium starts to break down fairly rapidly, plants usually grow better if repotted every year. Repotting should be done just as new root growth is starting so that plants become re-established in the shortest possible time.

Each grower should experiment to find which combination of materials works best in their particular growing area with their particular watering practices. For example, tree-fern fiber holds moisture better and does not break down so rapidly, so it seems logical to use it for plants that should not dry completely between waterings. And yet, Miltonia species grow better for us in a fir bark medium.

We have also had excellent results growing in shallow pots and baskets with loosely packed New Zealand sphagnum moss. The drawback to this medium is the cost of the material and the fact that it breaks down so rapidly that plants must be repotted every 9-12 months. We have come to believe that most orchids may be grown in about any medium the grower chooses to use if watering is adjusted to match the medium and the conditions in the growing area.

The following information includes a brief description of the plants and flowers, habitat location and elevation, and specific cultural requirements for each of the Miltonia species.

Miltonia candida, M. clowesii, M. cuneata, M. flavescens, and M. spectabilis are all found in the State of Espirito Santo northeast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Also, they all grow at about the same elevation. Therefore, in the interest of saving space, climate data for Vitoria has been used to indicate probable cultural conditions for all of these species.

Station #83648, Vitoria, Brazil, Lat. 20.3°S, Long. 40.3°W, at 13 ft. (4 m). Temperatures are calculated for an elevation of 2600 ft. (800 m), resulting in probable extremes of 93°F (34°C) and 34°F (1°C).

N/HEMISPHERE    JAN  FEB  MAR  APR  MAY  JUN  JUL  AUG  SEP  OCT  NOV  DEC
F AVG MAX        68   69   69   71   72   75   77   78   77   74   72   70
F AVG MIN        56   56   58   60   61   63   64   64   64   62   59   57
DIURNAL RANGE    12   13   11   11   11   12   13   14   13   12   13   13
RAIN/INCHES     2.2  2.1  2.7  4.2  5.7  6.3  3.7  3.0  5.2  3.9  2.3  3.4
HUMIDITY/%       83   84   86   84   86   85   82   83   84   85   82   84
BLOOM SEASON    N/A
DAYS CLR @  9AM  10   12    6    3    2    2    6    6    7    8   12   13
RAIN/MM          56   53   69  107  145  160   94   76  132   99   58   86
C AVG MAX      20.0 20.6 20.6 21.7 22.2 24.1 25.1 25.6 25.0 23.3 22.2 21.1
C AVG MIN      13.3 13.6 14.7 15.8 16.4 17.5 18.0 18.0 18.0 16.9 15.3 14.1
DIURNAL RANGE   6.7  7.0  5.9  5.9  5.8  6.6  7.1  7.6  7.0  6.4  6.9  7.0
S/HEMISPHERE    JUL  AUG  SEP  OCT  NOV  DEC  JAN  FEB  MAR  APR  MAY  JUN

 

Miltonia candida Lindley

Plants were once known as Oncidium candidum Rchb. f. They are moderately sized sympodial epiphytes 12-19 inches (30-48 cm) tall. Plants have two strap-like leaves 9-15 inches (23-38 cm) long at the top of each pseudobulb which is 3-4 inches (7-10 cm) tall. They also have two or more leaf-bearing bracts at the base of each pseudobulb. One or sometimes two arching to suberect inflorescences emerge through the bracts at the base of the newest pseudobulbs. The inflorescences are usually 15-18 inches (38-45 cm) long, but they occasionally reach a length of 24 inches (61 cm). Three to seven long-lasting fragrant flowers are carried on each inflorescence. The waxy blossoms are about 3 inches (7.5 cm) across. The sepals and somewhat shorter petals are pointed and shaped alike. They are chestnut-brown with yellow tips and variable yellow spotting. The white lip is somewhat round with wavy margins. It is rolled into a broad funnel-like tube around the column. The lip is decorated with two light violet to purple blotches on the disk and five to seven slightly divergent raised lines beneath the column.

ORIGIN/HABITAT: Brazil. Plants were originally found in the Organ Mountains northeast of Rio de Janeiro. They are now known to also occur in the States of Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Espirito Santo. Plants grow in moist situations at 1650-1950 ft. (500-600 m) in Minas Gerais and at about 2600 ft. (800 m) near Cachoeiro de Itapemirim in Espirito Santo.

Cultural Recommendations

TEMPERATURE: Summer days average 75-78°F (24-26°C), and nights average 63-64°F (18°C), with a diurnal range of 12-14°F (7-8°C). Winter days average 68-70°F (20-21°C), and nights average 56-57°F (13-14°C), with a diurnal range of 12-13°F (7°C). We have found that plants also grow well if winter lows are 4-5°F (2-3°C) cooler than indicated.

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: Cultivated plants usually bloom in late summer or early autumn.

HYBRIDIZING NOTES: Chromosome count is 2n = 60. When used in hybridizing, M. candida passes on the traits for short inflorescences, crowded flowers, and a lack of floriferousness. In spite of these less than desirable traits, the species has proven to be an excellent parent, producing offspring with tidy growth habit and large well-shaped flowers. However, its natural hybrids M. x binoti (M. candida x M. regnellii), M. x joiceyana (M. candida x M. clowesii), and M. x leucoglossa (M. candida x M. spectabilis) have not produced very good results when used as parents.

Miltonia clowesii Lindley

Over the years, plants have been known as Odontoglossum clowesii Lindley, Oncidium clowesii Rchb. f., and Brassia clowesii Lindley. They are moderately sized sympodial epiphytes that grow 15-22 inches (38-56 cm) tall. The pseudobulbs, which are three to four inches (7-10 cm) tall, are narrowly ovoid-oblong, strongly flattened, and taper from a wider base to a narrower top. They are spaced about 1.0-1.6 in. (2.5-4.0 cm) apart on a stout rhizome. Each growth produces two glossy, yellow-green leaves, 9-18 in. (22-45 cm) long, which are carried at the top of each pseudobulb. The leaves, which are folded lengthwise at the base, are rather sharply pointed at their tips. Two to four leaf-like bracts grow from the base of the pseudobulb. One or two erect to arching flower spikes, which may be up to 24 in. (61 cm) long, emerge along the folds in the sheathing bracts at the base of the most recently matured pseudobulbs. Seven to ten glossy, long lasting flowers, which are two to three inches (5-8 cm) across, are carried somewhat densely along the upper half of each inflorescence. The flowers open sequentially, so the plant remains in bloom for a long period. Sepals and petals are similar in size and shape with pointed tips. They are yellow with chestnut-brown transverse bars and spots. The lip is long, pointed, and fiddle-shaped with white on the apical half and violet-purple on the basal half. It is decorated with five to seven raised lines which are unequal in length. The central line is the broadest, while the two on either side of it are the longest. They may be white or yellow.

ORIGIN/HABITAT: Brazil. This species grows in the Organ Mountains and the cooler mountains in the States of Espirito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, and Minas Gerais. In Espirito Santo, plants are found near Cachoeiro de Itapemirim at about 2600 ft. (800 m).

Cultural Recommendations

TEMPERATURE: Summer days average 75-78°F (24-26°C), and nights average 63-64°F (18°C), with a diurnal range of 12-14°F (7-8°C). Winter days average 68-70°F (20-21°C), and nights average 56-57°F (13-14°C), with a diurnal range of 12-13°F (7°C). We have found that these plants may also be grown with winter lows that are 4-5°F (2-3°C) cooler than indicated.

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: Cultivated plants usually bloom in late summer and early autumn.

HYBRIDIZING NOTES: Chromosome count is 2n = 60. M. clowesii has several natural hybrids. It has crossed with M candida to produce M. x joiceyana, with M. spectabilis to produce M. x bluntii, and with M. regnellii to produce M. x castanea. In addition, M. x lamarkeana is a synonym of M. x joiceyana.

M. clowesii passes on its vigorous but tidy growth habit to its offspring. It also passes on the tendency for the flowers to open sequentially, but Moir commended this species for its beautiful hybrids. However, he reported that results were not very good when he used the natural hybrid M. x joiceyana as a parent.

Miltonia cuneata Lindley

Over the years, this species has been known as Miltonia speciosa Klotzsch and Oncidium speciosum Rchb. f. M. cuneata is a moderately sized sympodial epiphyte 12-19 inches (30-48 cm) tall. The matte-green pseudobulbs are 3-4 inches (7-10 cm) tall, somewhat tapered, and slightly flattened. They may be clustered closely or spaced relatively far apart on a stout, creeping rhizome. Each pseudobulb is topped with two or three narrow, pointed leaves which are 9-15 inches (23-38 cm) long. Two to four leaf-like bracts grow from the base of each pseudobulb. Inflorescences, which are 12-24 in. (30-60 cm) long, are erect to arching. They emerge along folds in the sheathing bracts at the base of the most recently matured pseudobulbs. Four to eight blossoms, which are 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) across and last for about a month, are carried on the upper half of each inflorescence. Sepals and petals are pointed, rather narrow, and about the same length with wavy edges and tips that are often reflexed. They are chestnut-brown with yellow tips and often have a few yellow bars or streaks near their bases. The relatively large apical section of the fiddle-shaped lip is white, but the long narrow base may or may not be suffused with mauve. The base of the lip also has two long keels which are covered with tiny hairs near their bases and are sometimes marked with pink-mauve. The area between the keels is yellow.

ORIGIN/HABITAT: Brazil. Plants grow in the States of Espirito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo. In Espirito Santo, they are found near Cachoeiro de Itapemirim at 2600-3300 ft. (800-1000 m) in dense, hillside forests that are nearly impenetrable due to the many trailing plants and epiphytes.

Cultural Recommendations

TEMPERATURE: Summer days average 75-78°F (24-26°C), and nights average 63-64°F (18°C), with a diurnal range of 12-14°F (7-8°C). Winter days average 68-70°F (20-21°C), and nights average 56-57°F (13-14°C), with a diurnal range of 12-13°F (7°C). We have found that plants also grow well when winter lows are 4-5°F (2-3°C) cooler than indicated.

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: Cultivated plants bloom in late winter or early spring.

HYBRIDIZING NOTES: Chromosome count is 2n = 60. When used in hybridizing, M. cuneata passes on the trait for tidy growth habit to its offspring. Unfortunately, the progeny also carry the tendency for short inflorescences, few flowers, and crowding on the inflorescence.

Miltonia flavescens (Lindley) Lindley

Over the years, plants have been known as Oncidium flavescens (Lindley) Rchb. f., Cyrtochilum stillatum Lindley, and Cyrtochilum flavescens Lindley. M. flavescens is a moderately sized sympodial epiphyte that grows 16-17 inches (41-43 cm) tall. The strongly flattened pseudobulbs, which are 2-5 inches (5-13 cm) tall and about 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide, are yellow-green, more or less oblong, and spaced about 1.3 inches (3 cm) apart along a creeping rhizome. Two narrow, strap-like leaves, usually about 12 inches (30 cm) long, grow at the top of each pseudobulb. In addition, one or two leaf-bearing bracts grow from the base of the pseudobulb. The rather soft-textured leaves may be medium-green or yellow-green depending on light levels. Inflorescences are about 39 in. (100 cm) long and rather flattened. They emerge from the base of the newest pseudobulbs along creases in the basal sheathing bracts. Seven to fifteen fragrant flowers, which are long lasting, star-shaped, and about 3 inches (7.5 cm) across, are carried on the upper part of the inflorescence. The pale yellow sepals and petals are long and narrow with sharply pointed tips. They open fully. The relatively narrow, oblong lip is white with four to six radiating reddish-purple streaks on its minutely hairy basal half. It is about 1 inch. (2.5 cm) long with ruffled edges.

ORIGIN/HABITAT: Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Peru. This widespread species occurs along the east coast of Brazil from the State of Pernambuco southward through the States of Bahia, Espirito Santo, Minas Gerais, Rid de Janeiro, São Paulo, Parana, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul. In Espirito Santo, plants grow near Cachoeiro de Itapemirim at about 2600 ft. (800 m). Although this species is also reported from Paraguay, Argentina, and Peru, specific habitat locations and elevations in those localities are not available.

Cultural Recommendations

TEMPERATURE: Summer days average 75-78°F (24-26°C), and nights average 63-64°F (18°C), with a diurnal range of 12-14°F (7-8°C). Winter days average 68-70°F (20-21°C), and nights average 56-57°F (13-14°C), with a diurnal range of 12-13°F (7°C).

Temperatures are based on the values indicated in the climate table for Vitoria, Brazil and represent the average conditions under which this species should be grown. Because M flavescens has such a wide range of distribution, however, plants from further south experience winter minimum temperatures 6-8°F (3-4°C) cooler than indicated, while those from nearer the equator tolerate conditions which are 4-5°F (2-3°C) warmer. Growers report that plants have survived freezing temperatures when many other species in the collection were killed. M flavescens then flowered after not blooming for several years prior to the freeze.

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: Cultivated plants bloom in spring and summer.

HYBRIDIZING NOTES: Chromosome count is 2n = 56 and 2n = 60. As a parent, M. flavescens passes on cold tolerance and vigorous growth. It also increases the number of flowers in hybrids. However, it tends to also produce short inflorescences, untidy growth habit, crowded flowers on the inflorescence, and flowers that are somewhat twisted. Only one natural hybrid of this species is known. M. x festiva results when M. flavescens is crossed with M. spectabilis.

Miltonia spectabilis Lindley

In times past, these plants have been known as Marcochilus fryanus Knowles & Westcott and Oncidium spectabile Rchb. f. This relatively small sympodial epiphyte is 7-12 inches (18-30 cm) tall with growths spaced less than 1 inch (1-2 cm) apart along a creeping, scaly rhizome. The pseudobulbs, which are 1.6-4.0 inches (4-10 cm) long, are ovate to oblong, flattened, and about 0.8 inch (2 cm) wide. The two narrow, strap-like leaves are 4-12 in. (10-30 cm) long and grow at the top of each pseudobulb. One or two leaf-bearing bracts grow from the base of each growth. The relatively short, erect inflorescence is 3-6 inches (7-15 cm) long. It emerges along the folds of the sheathing bracts at the base of the pseudobulb. The spike is sheathed by overlapping flattened bracts, with the largest one embracing the combined pedicel and ovary at the base of the flower. One, sometimes two, blossoms are carried near the end of each inflorescence. They are about 3 inches (7.5 cm) across and last for a month or more if kept cool and in low light. Sepals and petals are about the same size, but the petals may be slightly wider. The flowers open very flat, except for the petals which are often recurved along their apical half. Sepals and petals are usually white, but they may be suffused with pink. The large one-lobed lip is normally rose-pink with deeper red-purple at the base and darker veins throughout. Flower color is extremely variable, however, and there are many named horticultural varieties. The best known of these is probably Miltonia spectabilis var. moreliana Henfrey, which has somewhat larger flowers than other varieties. The color of the sepals and petals is also variable, but they are commonly plum-purple with a white or pale pink base. The large lip is a pale rose-purple with a network of darker veins. Other well known varieties are var. alba, which is all white except for a little yellow on the callus of the lip; var. bicolor, which has glistening white flowers with a large purple blotch at the base of the lip; var. lineata is colored much like var. bicolor with 7-9 purple lines radiating from the purple blotch at the base of the lip to the margins; var. radians is white with 6 radiating purple lines on the disc of the lip; and var. rosea ranges in color from pale pink to rose with a variable number of purple lines on the lip.

ORIGIN/HABITAT: Brazil. Plants are widespread along the east coast from the State of Pernambuco in the north through Bahia, Espirito Santo, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. In Espirito Santo, variety spectabilis and variety moreliana are found near Cachoeiro de Itapemirim at about 2600 ft. (800 m).

Cultural Recommendations

TEMPERATURE: Summer days average 75-78°F (24-26°C), and nights average 63-64°F (18°C), with a diurnal range of 12-14°F (7-8°C). Winter days average 68-70°F (20-21°C), and nights average 56-57°F (13-14°C), with a diurnal range of 12-13°F (7°C).

Temperatures are based on the values indicated in the climate table for Vitoria, Brazil. They represent the coolest conditions under which this species should be grown. Because M spectabilis has a relatively wide range of distribution, however, plants should adapt to conditions several degrees warmer than indicated.

Most varieties require the conditions previously discussed and indicated in the preceding climate table. However, Miltonia spectabilis var. bicolor is found in northern Espirito Santo at significantly lower elevations, usually at 350-650 ft. (100-200 m), and requires temperatures 6-8°F (3-4°C) warmer than the other varieties.

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: Cultivated plants bloom in late spring and early summer and in late summer and autumn. They also bloom sporadically at other times of year.

HYBRIDIZING NOTES: Chromosome count is usually 2n = 60. However, counts in M. spectabilis var. lineata are 2n = 56, and in var. rosea they are 2n = 86. M. spectabilis has been widely used in hybridizing, especially var. moreliana which often increases flower size and produces strikingly dark flowers. Regrettably, this species also tends to reduce the number of flowers in the offspring as well as pass on the tendencies for untidy growth habit, short inflorescences, and flowers that are crowded on the inflorescence. In addition to all the artificial hybrids, M. spectabilis has several natural hybrids. When crossed with M. clowesii, M. x bluntii is produced. M. x cogniauxiae results when M. spectabilis is crossed with M. regnellii, M. x festiva is the offspring of M. spectabilis and M. flavescens, and M. x leucoglossa results from crossing M. spectabilis with M. candida. M. x peetersiana is a synonym of M. x leucoglossa.

Miltonia anceps Lindley

In times past, this species has been known as Odontoglossum anceps Klotzsch and Oncidium anceps Rchb. f. These relatively small sympodial epiphytes are 6-9 inches (15-23 cm) tall with growths spaced along a creeping rhizome. The somewhat flattened pseudobulbs are 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) high. They are topped with two linear-oblong leaves which are 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) long. In addition, there are one or two leaf-bearing sheaths which emerge at the base of each growth. The somewhat flattened inflorescence, which is erect to arching, is usually longer than the leaves. It is sheathed by long, alternate, compressed bracts. A single blossom is carried at the apex of each inflorescence. Flowers are 2.0-2.5 inches (5.0-6.4 cm) across. Sepals and petals are yellow-green with blunt, reflexed tips. The somewhat fiddle-shaped lip is mostly white with two or three purple streaks on the disc and a few purple spots in front of the streaks.

ORIGIN/HABITAT: Brazil. Plants were originally found near Rio de Janeiro, but few details as to location, type, and elevation of the habitat have been reported. Pabst and Dung, in Orchidaceae Brasilienses, indicate that plants grow in the hot, humid lowlands, so we have estimated habitat elevation at 1000 ft. (300 m). Because habitat elevation is estimated, however, growers should use the following temperatures with caution.

CLIMATE: Station #83743, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Lat. 22.9°S, Long. 43.2°W, at 89 ft. (27 m). Temperatures are calculated for an elevation of 1000 ft. (300 m), resulting in probable extremes of 99°F (37°C) and 43°F (6°C).

N/HEMISPHERE    JAN  FEB  MAR  APR  MAY  JUN  JUL  AUG  SEP  OCT  NOV  DEC
F AVG MAX        72   73   72   74   76   79   81   82   80   77   74   73
F AVG MIN        60   61   62   63   65   68   70   70   69   66   63   61
DIURNAL RANGE    12   12   10   11   11   11   11   12   11   11   11   12
RAIN/INCHES     1.6  1.7  2.6  3.1  4.1  5.4  4.9  4.8  5.1  4.2  3.1  2.1
HUMIDITY/%       77   75   78   78   78   78   74   78   81   80   79   78
BLOOM SEASON      *
DAYS CLR @  9AM   9   10    6    7    4    4    6    5    8    5    6    8
RAIN/MM          41   43   66   79  104  137  124  122  130  107   79   53
C AVG MAX      22.2 22.8 22.2 23.3 24.4 26.3 27.3 27.8 26.7 25.0 23.3 22.8
C AVG MIN      15.6 16.1 16.7 17.2 18.3 20.0 21.1 21.1 20.6 18.9 17.2 16.1
DIURNAL RANGE   6.6  6.7  5.5  6.1  6.1  6.3  6.2  6.7  6.1  6.1  6.1  6.7
S/HEMISPHERE    JUL  AUG  SEP  OCT  NOV  DEC  JAN  FEB  MAR  APR  MAY  JUN

Cultural Recommendations

TEMPERATURE: Summer days average 79-82°F (26-28°C), and nights average 68-70°F (20-21°C), with a diurnal range of 11-12°F (6-7°C). Winter days average 72-73°F (22-23°C), and nights average 60-61°F (16°C), with a diurnal range of 12°F (7°C).

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: A single cultivation report indicates blooming in early winter. Hawkes gives the bloom time as April-June but does not indicate if that is for plants in the southern hemisphere habitat or in northern hemisphere cultivation.

HYBRIDIZING NOTES: Chromosome count is 2n = 60. When M. anceps is used as a parent, it passes on traits for short inflorescences, few flowers, untidy growth habit, and flowers crowded on the inflorescence.

Miltonia kayasimae Pabst

These relatively small sympodial epiphytes grow 10-12 inches (25-30 cm) tall. The growths are spaced 0.6-0.8 inch (1.5-2.0 cm) apart along a creeping rhizome. The pseudobulbs, which are 2.0-2.4 inches (5-6 cm) tall, are slightly flattened, are about 0.7 inch (1.8 cm) thick at the base and taper towards the tip. Two narrowly lanceolate leaves, 8-10 inches (20-25 cm) long and about 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide, are carried at the top of each pseudobulb. In addition, two leaf-bearing sheaths grow at the base of the pseudobulb. The inflorescence is erect, about 9 inches (23 cm) long, and emerges from the base of the pseudobulb. It is green suffused with purplish red. About six cup-shaped flowers, which are 1.5-2.0 inches (3.8-5.0 cm) across, are loosely spaced along the upper part of the inflorescence. Sepals and petals are chestnut-brown over a ochre-yellow base color. The petals and dorsal sepal are somewhat reflexed near their tips. The lip, which forms an acute angle with the column, is narrow at the base, widely spread near its mid-point, and tapered to a point at the tip. It is mostly white with two fleshy, lilac keels near the base.

ORIGIN/HABITAT: Brazil. A relatively new species, it was described by Guido Pabst in 1976. It was discovered in the coastal mountain range in the State of São Paulo. Plants were growing at about 2950 ft. (900 m) near Salesópolis, which is about halfway between São Paulo and San Sebastiao.

CLIMATE: Station #83781,São Paulo, Brazil, Lat. 23.6°S, Long. 46.7°W, at 2628 ft. (800 m). Temperatures are calculated for an elevation of 2950 ft. (900 m), resulting in probable extremes of 99°F (37°C) and 31°F (-1°C).

N/HEMISPHERE    JAN  FEB  MAR  APR  MAY  JUN  JUL  AUG  SEP  OCT  NOV  DEC
F AVG MAX        65   66   66   67   71   74   76   78   75   72   67   65
F AVG MIN        52   52   54   56   58   61   62   63   61   58   53   53
DIURNAL RANGE    13   14   12   11   13   13   14   15   14   14   14   12
RAIN/INCHES     1.5  2.1  3.5  4.6  6.0  9.4  8.8  7.8  6.1  2.3  3.0  2.4
HUMIDITY/%       75   73   77   78   80   80   82   83   81   82   80   79
BLOOM SEASON    N/A
DAYS CLR @  9AM   5    7    3    4    4    5    3    1    2    2    1    2
RAIN/MM          38   53   89  117  152  239  224  198  155   58   76   61
C AVG MAX      18.3 18.9 18.9 19.4 21.7 23.5 24.5 25.6 23.9 22.2 19.4 18.3
C AVG MIN      11.1 11.1 12.2 13.3 14.4 16.1 16.6 17.2 16.1 14.4 11.6 11.6
DIURNAL RANGE   7.2  7.8  6.7  6.1  7.3  7.4  7.9  8.4  7.8  7.8  7.8  6.7
S/HEMISPHERE    JUL  AUG  SEP  OCT  NOV  DEC  JAN  FEB  MAR  APR  MAY  JUN

Cultural Recommendations

TEMPERATURE: Summer days average 74-78°F (24-26°C), and nights average 61-63°F (16-17°C), with a diurnal range of 13-15°F (7-8°C). Winter days average 65-66°F (18-19°C), and nights average 52-53°F (11-12°C), with a diurnal range of 12-14°F (7-8°C).

HYBRIDIZING NOTES: When used in hybridizing, M. kayasimae passes on the traits for short inflorescences, few flowers, flowers crowded on the inflorescence, and untidy growth habit.

Miltonia regnellii Rchb. f.

In the past, plants have been known as Oncidium regnellii (Rchb. f.) Rchb. f. and Miltonia cereola Lemaire. They are moderately sized sympodial epiphytes that grow 10-16 inches (25-40 cm) tall. The yellow-green pseudobulbs are 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) long, ovoid-oblong, compressed, and narrowed toward the top. Growths are clustered fairly closely together along short connecting rhizome. This results in a tidy, less rambling growth habit than many other Miltonia species. The two narrow, glossy, yellowish-green leaves are 8-12 inches (20-30 cm) long. They are carried at the top of the pseudobulb. In addition, two or more leaf-bearing sheathing bracts emerge at the base of each growth. The slender, erect inflorescences are 16-24 inches (40-60 cm) long. They grow from the base of new, immature pseudobulbs and emerge along creases in the basal sheaths. Each inflorescence produces three to seven flowers. They are fragrant, open wide and flat, measure 2-3 inches (5.0-7.5 cm) long, and open successively over a long period. Sepals and petals are usually white, sometimes tinged with rose at the base. The broad, flat lip is light rose streaked with rose-purple. The margin is white. The flowers are normally white, but sepals and petals may be rose-purple, and plants occasionally have yellow sepals and petals. Both color varieties have the rose-purple lips found on the typically colored flowers.

ORIGIN/HABITAT: Brazil. The eastern states. Some writers report occurrence in only Santa Catarina and Minas Gerais, but others also include the states of São Paulo, Parana, and Rio Grande do Sul. The only habitat location information available to us is Santa Catarina about 30 miles (48 km) inland from Camboriu, which is about half-way between Joinville and Florianopolis. Plants grow in wet forests at 1000-2600 ft. (300-800 m).

CLIMATE: Station #83876, Joinville, Brazil, Lat. 26.2°S, Long. 48.8°W, at 7 ft. (2 m). Temperatures are calculated for an elevation of 2000 ft. (610 m), resulting in probable extremes of 93°F (34°C) and 29°F (-1°C).

N/HEMISPHERE    JAN  FEB  MAR  APR  MAY  JUN  JUL  AUG  SEP  OCT  NOV  DEC
F AVG MAX        72   73   75   78   79   81   81   81   81   78   75   73
F AVG MIN        59   61   60   62   63   64   64   64   64   64   62   60
DIURNAL RANGE    13   12   15   16   16   17   17   17   17   14   13   13
RAIN/INCHES     9.3  4.7  3.8  4.7  4.3  4.1  3.3  4.1  5.1 11.2 11.9  8.5
HUMIDITY/%       89   87   85   84   83   82   82   84   84   87   89   90
BLOOM SEASON                          *    *    *  ***  ***    *    *
DAYS CLR @  9AM   6    4    3    3    3    4    6    4    5    9    8    7
RAIN/MM         236  119   97  119  109  104   84  104  130  284  302  216
C AVG MAX      22.2 22.8 23.9 25.6 26.1 27.4 27.3 27.2 27.2 25.6 23.9 22.8
C AVG MIN      15.0 16.3 15.8 16.9 17.5 18.0 18.0 18.0 18.0 18.0 16.9 15.8
DIURNAL RANGE   7.2  6.5  8.1  8.7  8.6  9.4  9.3  9.2  9.2  7.6  7.0  7.0
S/HEMISPHERE    JUL  AUG  SEP  OCT  NOV  DEC  JAN  FEB  MAR  APR  MAY  JUN

Cultural Recommendations

TEMPERATURE: Summer days average 81°F (27°C), and nights average 64°F (18°C), with a diurnal range of 17°F (9°C). Cultivated plants are known to tolerate warmer daytime temperatures if humidity is high and air movement is strong. Winter days average 72-75°F (22-24°C), and nights average 59-61°F (15-16°C), with a diurnal range of 12-15°F (7-8°C). We have found, however, that plants adapt to winter-time night temperatures which are 4-6°F (2-3°C) cooler than indicated.

WATER: Rainfall is moderate to heavy all year, but conditions are a little drier in summer. However, heavy dew with fog and mist from the nearby ocean keeps the forest continually moist, even when rainfall is reduced. The habitat is very moist year-round, but cultivated plants need less water in winter, especially plants grown in the darker, short-day conditions common in temperate latitude winters. Therefore, water should be reduced in winter, but plants should never be allowed to dry out completely.

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: The bloom season shown in the climate table is based on cultivation records.

HYBRIDIZING NOTES: Chromosome count is 2n = 60. M. regnellii has proven to be the easiest breeder in the genus. It has been used extensively in hybridizing, especially the yellow clones 'Citrina' and 'Aurea'. When used as a parent, it passes on the tendency for strong, erect, long flower spikes and vigorous growth with a tidy growth habit. Unfortunately, the hybrid flowers tend to be somewhat smaller. In addition to the numerous artificial hybrids several natural hybrids are known. M. x binotii is a natural hybrid between M. regnellii and M. candida, M. x castanea is the natural hybrid between M. regnellii and M. clowesii, and M. x cogniauxiae results when M. regnellii is crossed with M. spectabilis.

Miltonia russelliana (Lindley) Lindley

In earlier times, plants have been known as Oncidium russellianum Lindley and Miltonia quadrijuga Dusén and Kränzlin. They are relatively small 8-12 inch (20-30 cm) sympodial epiphytes with growths closely set along the rhizome. Pseudobulbs are 2-3 inches (5-7 cm) long. They are dull olive-green, ovate to oblong, and slightly flattened. Two narrow strap-like leaves, 6-10 inches (15-25 cm) long, are carried at the top of each pseudobulb, and 1-2 leaf-bearing bracts grow at the base of each growth. The erect to arching inflorescence, which is mottled with dull purple, is 16-24 inches (40-60 cm) long. Inflorescences are produced at the base of the newest pseudobulbs and emerge along the fold in the basal sheathing bract. Five to nine blossoms, which do not open widely, are 1.2-2.0 inches (3-5 cm) across. They are well spaced along the upper half of the inflorescence. Sepals and petals are reddish-brown with pale yellow on the apical section, which is normally recurved to one extent or another. The petals are slightly shorter but broader than the sepals. They are held parallel to the column before curving outward near their tips. The oblong lip is rose-lilac on the basal two-thirds with white or pale yellow on the recurved apical third. It narrows to a waist just below the apical third and tapers to a point at the apex. In addition, it has 3 raised lines on the disc, with the middle one being the shortest.

ORIGIN/HABITAT: Brazil. Originally introduced to Europe from Rio de Janeiro, this species is now known to grow in the cool mountain regions of the States of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Paraná, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul. Although habitat elevation has not been reported, it has been estimated based on verbal descriptions found in the literature, so the resulting temperatures should be used with caution.

CLIMATE: Station #83876, Joinville, Brazil, Lat. 26.2°S, Long. 48.8°E, at 7 ft. (2 m). Temperatures are calculated for an elevation of 3300 ft. (1000 m), resulting in probable extremes of 89°F (32°C) and 25°F (-4°C).

N/HEMISPHERE    JAN  FEB  MAR  APR  MAY  JUN  JUL  AUG  SEP  OCT  NOV  DEC
F AVG MAX        68   69   71   74   75   77   77   77   77   74   71   69
F AVG MIN        55   57   56   58   59   60   60   60   60   60   58   56
DIURNAL RANGE    13   12   15   16   16   17   17   17   17   14   13   13
RAIN/INCHES     9.3  4.7  3.8  4.7  4.3  4.1  3.3  4.1  5.1 11.2 11.9  8.5
HUMIDITY/%       89   87   85   84   83   82   82   84   84   87   89   90
BLOOM SEASON      *    *                                            *    *
DAYS CLR @ 9AM    6    4    3    3    3    4    6    4    5    9    8    7
RAIN/MM         236  119   97  119  109  104   84  104  130  284  302  216
C AVG MAX      20.1 20.7 21.8 23.4 24.0 25.1 25.1 25.1 25.1 23.4 21.8 20.7
C AVG MIN      12.9 14.0 13.4 14.6 15.1 15.7 15.7 15.7 15.7 15.7 14.6 13.4
DIURNAL RANGE   7.2  6.7  8.4  8.8  8.9  9.4  9.4  9.4  9.4  7.7  7.2  7.3
S/HEMISPHERE    JUL  AUG  SEP  OCT  NOV  DEC  JAN  FEB  MAR  APR  MAY  JUN

Cultural Recommendations

TEMPERATURE: Summer days average 77°F (25°C), and nights average 60°F (16°C), with a diurnal range of 17°F (9°C). Cultivated plants will adapt to warmer daytime temperatures if humidity is high and air movement is strong.

Winter days average 68-71°F (20-22°C), and nights average 55-57°F (13-14°C), with a diurnal range of 12-15°F (7-8°C). Growers are reminded that these temperatures are based on estimated habitat elevation and should, therefore, be used with caution. Because plants are found as far south as Rio Grande do Sul, however, they should adapt to temperatures several degrees cooler than indicated, even if the habitat is actually at lower elevations than has been estimated.

WATER: Rainfall is moderate to heavy all year, but conditions are a little drier in summer. However, heavy dew with fog and mist from the nearby ocean keeps the forest continually moist, even when rainfall is reduced. Although the habitat is very moist year-round, cultivated plants need less water in winter, especially plants grown in the darker, short-day conditions common in temperate-latitude winters. Therefore, water should be reduced in winter, but plants should never be allowed to dry out completely.

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: Cultivated plants bloom in late autumn and early winter.

HYBRIDIZING NOTES: Chromosome count is 2n = 60. When used in hybridizing, M. russelliana passes on the traits for short inflorescences, few flowers crowded at the apex of the inflorescence, and untidy growth habit. Although this species is considered one of the least attractive of the genus, W. W. G. Moir reported good results when using it as a parent in hybridizing programs because it transmits a beautiful mottling or dappling to the sepals and petals of the offspring. This characteristic is exemplified in Miltonia Purple Queen (M. spectabilis var. moreliana x M. russellianum), which is a superior parent because it is more floriferous with larger flowers.

REFERENCES:

Baker, G. 1986. Sexy spiders -- breeding with brassias I -- Brassia and bigeneric hybrids. American Orchid Society Bulletin 55(11):1092.

Baker, G. 1990. Brazilian Miltonias: An appreciation and their culture. American Orchid Society Bulletin 59(2):149.

Bechtel, H., P. Cribb, and E. Launert. 1980. Manual of cultivated orchid species. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Carpenter, M. 1981. Miltassia cartagena and its hybrids American Orchid Society Bulletin 50(3):256.

Fowlie, J. 1982. In Brazil: Part XXI. Reminiscences with the botanists of the past in the sunlight gardens of the Serra da Pedra Branca. Orchid Digest. 46(3):113.

Hawkes, A. [1965] 1987. Encyclopaedia of cultivated orchids. Faber and Faber, London.

McQueen, J., and B. McQueen. 1993. Orchids of Brazil. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

Moir, W. W. G. 1973. Brazilian miltonias and Miltonia warscewiczii. Orchid Digest 37(6):201.

Pabst, Guido. 1977. Some novelties among Brazilian orchids, a new Miltonia species from Brazil, Miltonia kayasimae Pabst. Orchid Digest 41(4):157.

Pabst, G., and F. Dungs. 1975. Orchidaceae Brazilienses, book 1 and 2. Brücke-Verkag Kurt Schmersow, Hildesheim, Germany.

Rohrl, Helmut. 1986. Brazilian Miltonias: Species and unigeneric hybrids. American Orchid Society Bulletin 55(9):892.

Sweet, H. R. 1978. The Miltonia complex in horticulture. American Orchid Society Bulletin 47(10):917.

Veitch, James, and Sons. [1887-1894] 1963, 1981. Manual of orchidaceous plants. Vols. I-II. James Veitch and Sons, Royal Exotic Nursery, Chelsea, London. Reprint, Vol. I, A. Asher and Co., Amsterdam, The Netherlands; reprint, Vol. II, Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun, India.

.........................................................................
          Charles and Margaret Baker, Portland, Oregon, USA
Email <cobaker@troymeyers.com>    

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