What is Miltoniopsis?

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  • Written By: Vasanth S.
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2019
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Miltoniopsis is a plant genus that is part of the Orchidaceae family. It contains a number of orchid species that are generally found in Colombia, Ecuador and Panama. They have tightly clustered pseudobulbs and two or three large flower spikes which last four to eight weeks after blooming. Typically, they are grown in plastic pots with a layer of coarse bark. The roots of miltoniopsis orchids are very thin and are easily damaged in a medium that is too dry or soggy.

The miltoniopsis genus became part of the classification system for plants in 1889, after Godefroy-Lebeuf introduced several new species to the Orchidaceae family. In 1976, scientists fully accepted the genus thanks to Garay and Dunsterville, who established M. santanaei as a species within the orchid family that was similar to the species collected by Godefroy-Lebeuf. Eventually, six species would be classified under the miltoniopsis genus. These include M. roezlii, M. phalaenopsis, and M. vexillaria.

The natural habitat of M. roezlii is generally the hot, humid lowlands, while M. vexillaria thrives in cool, humid cloud forests. A cloud forest is a habitat on a high mountain slope typically covered with low, misty clouds. M. phalaenopsis exists in regions that are high in humidity, but have a more moderate temperature. Replicating the moisture present in the natural habitat of miltoniopsis orchids can be difficult, but with the right medium and container, it can be accomplished.


Typically, a plastic pot with several drainage holes is the best container for miltoniopsis. A medium that drains well should be used. For example, fine-grade fir bark can be complemented with perlite or sphagnum moss to increase moisture retention. To reach an optimum soil moistness, additional material may be added as needed, including crushed oyster shells, peanut hulls and charcoal.

Generally, watering the miltoniopsis two to three times per week from spring to autumn is enough, but on especially hot stretches during the summer, watering every day is recommended. During the winter, the soil usually remains moist if it is watered every two to three weeks. Over watering isn't a concern if the medium is doing its job. In cases where drainage is poor, root rot may develop. The only time the plant should be slightly dry is during re-potting.

It is recommended to re-pot miltoniopsis orchids every year, usually during the autumn, to maintain optimum health. The rootstock should be free of old medium and damaged roots should be trimmed. Use a new pot that is slightly larger than the previous one, with room to accommodate another year of growth, along with new medium.



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