Mastering Miltonias


I have over the years purchased miltonias, only to have them die but do not know what I am doing wrong. I have friends who have had the same problem. I purchased one in bud in April 2001 and the buds blasted without opening and eventually the leaves began to turn yellow and the entire plant finally succumbed. What am I doing wrong? -Peggy Spofford-Wallace

A bench of hybrid miltonias flowering at the Smithsonian Institute. Photo © 2004 Greg Allikas


I am presuming you have the problems with the Colombian miltonias or miltoniopsis. Honestly, I could not think of a more difficult area to grow this type of orchid than New Mexico. To succeed, you need a shady greenhouse where high daytime humidity could be maintained and either a swamp cooler or an air-conditioning unit that was set on a day setting of 80 F and a night setting of 62º F. You would have to use good-quality water and keep your fertilizer levels low to reflect the shaded environment. If you take these steps, you should succeed in cultivating miltonias, but it will not be easy and you will deserve any praise you might receive. -Andy Easton