Miltoniopsis Andrea West 'Harford's Wei' HCC/AOS

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I grow a few hybrid Miltoniopsis (Mps.), a genus infrequently discussed on Slippertalk (and Orchid Board) and usually considered difficult to grow well in many locations.

The following picture is from my two-pseudobulb (division or mericlone) of Mps. Andrea West ‘Harford’s Wei’ (formerly called ‘#1’), which was awarded an AOS 79-point HCC in 2009. This plant struggled for a few years but is now growing well.
IMG_2484.jpeg

Mps. Andrea West was registered in 2001 as (Capitola x Doctor Ruth Ono) and is comprised of three of the six Mps. species (46% vexillaria, 39% roezlii, and 5% phalaenopsis). The HCC ‘Harford’s Wei’ plant had 25 flowers and buds on four inflorescences with a maximum flower size of 8.7 cm horizontal and 10.6 cm vertical. My plant is years away from something like that.

I like the appearance of Mps. plants and their pansy-like flowers. The flowers come in a range of colors, usually about 4 per inflorescence, can have nice fragrance, and can last 4-8 weeks on the inflorescence (although they don’t last long as cut flowers). Mps. usually bloom in late spring/early summer, but they can bloom in the fall.

As with all orchids, Mps. need the correct light, temperature, and balance of air/water/nutrition at the roots to grow and bloom well. I am using the Baker Miltoniopsis culture sheet as published in the 1993 AOS Bulletin for most of my information.

The species in Andrea West are native near the equator in Columbia and Ecuador where day length varies only from 12.5 hours to 11.5 hours during the year. The high amount of mist and clouds creates an intermediate light requirement that is less than Cattleya light and about in the Phragmipedium range. I vary the height of my LED lights to give my plants about 125 micromoles/meter squared/sec of PAR spectrum light from March 1 to August 31 and then 95 from September 1 to the end of February.

The three species in Andrea West have modestly different natural habitat temperatures so their combination creates a hybrid that is relatively temperature tolerant, being OK with 80-85 F maximums and 60-64 F minimums. My plant room winter maximums are lower than 80 and my summer minimums are higher than 64 but my growth and flowering have been acceptable.

Mps. roots like to be almost continuously moist and the Baker culture sheet has a wonderful description of the natural habitat of vexillaria to explain this:

“During the dry season the day breaks clear, but soon after sunrise a thick mist settles over the forest till about 10 a.m.; it then ascends higher, and the rays of the sun begin with difficulty to penetrate it; the air is then filled with a bluish mist that shuts out the distant view. A light shower of rain falls in the afternoon about 2 o'clock, which often continues till evening, when it gives place to a thick mist. During the rains there is generally a light wind blowing towards the mountains from the lower river valleys. In the rainy season the circumstances are nearly the same, except that the rain is more copious, the drops heavier, and the showers of longer duration.”

My plants are growing in 100% Hydroton (a type of LECA) in 5- or 6-inch Active Aqua square pots that are taller than Rand Aircone pots and most typical round orchid pots. I water with K-Lite fertilizer in RO water every five days until my two peak winter months when the frequency decreases to every 8 days. I vary the weekly nitrogen given to the plants from 95 ppm in peak summer gradually down to 29 in peak winter. I heavily mist the surface layer of Hydroton with RO water each day to prevent precipitation of fertilizer salts on the surface and to ensure that the top layer of roots do not dry out. I also use monthly Kelpak as a growth stimulator.
 
Good job on growing these Terry. I have no luck with them.

I have seen them in nurseries in Colombia growing in intermediate light at 2200m, with constant winds and drizzle, 20C days and 10C nights.
 
I love the Pansy Orchids, I grew a lot of them at one stage but had a bit of a disaster and lost them all. I recently bought a few more, so I am having a second attempt. The hot summers are my biggest problem.
 
They definitely like it cool and damp. The best ones I’ve ever seen were growing at the EYOF site on the island of jersey, off the French coast. They had a whole greenhouse full of specimen plants in full bloom. The scent was terrific.
 
Good growing! The hydroton medium is interesting. I had trouble with these previously but now am growing 3 alongside my phrags on my bathroom windowsills. I have an Andrea West ‘HOF’ (HCC/AOS) from OL. It’s growing in the fresh moss it came in. It came with 4 spikes and loads of flowers. Hasn’t re-bloomed yet for me, but is growing well. These get an E/NE window, whereas the phrags have E and SE windows. The 2 I have in moss are doing better than the one I repotted into fine bark. It’s has crinkling. Mine was a bit more yellow in my memory.
 
Good growing! The hydroton medium is interesting. I had trouble with these previously but now am growing 3 alongside my phrags on my bathroom windowsills. I have an Andrea West ‘HOF’ (HCC/AOS) from OL. It’s growing in the fresh moss it came in. It came with 4 spikes and loads of flowers. Hasn’t re-bloomed yet for me, but is growing well. These get an E/NE window, whereas the phrags have E and SE windows. The 2 I have in moss are doing better than the one I repotted into fine bark. It’s has crinkling. Mine was a bit more yellow in my memory.
As we have discussed various times, various media can work, it is all about getting the right balance of air and water/nutrients at the roots. In bark you will get fast drainage at the beginning if the holes aren’t plugged up with smaller other stuff, which will give Miltoniopsis good air at the roots. However, they will need frequent watering, so more dilute fertilizer. Moss will have to be loosely packed to give air and probably won’t need fertigation as often, but as the moss compacts/breaks down, everything will change. I like that Hydroton won’t change. If I could have found them easily I would have followed Ray Barklow’s idea and just used marbles of the right size. Perfect drainage and aeration with an inert substance. Since I am almost always home and don’t have a huge collection, frequent water is not a problem for me.

‘HOF’ was awarded 6 years before ‘Harford’s Wei’ and was smaller at the time of award. The award photos show similar color.
 
Miltoniopsis are cool growers, bright light without any direct sun to speak of. They like very good humidity and air movement.
Preferred temperature range is 70 degrees F during the day and they can even take the low to mid 40’s at night providing they are not wet. 55 night time temperature is ideal.
 
As we have discussed various times, various media can work, it is all about getting the right balance of air and water/nutrients at the roots. In bark you will get fast drainage at the beginning if the holes aren’t plugged up with smaller other stuff, which will give Miltoniopsis good air at the roots. However, they will need frequent watering, so more dilute fertilizer. Moss will have to be loosely packed to give air and probably won’t need fertigation as often, but as the moss compacts/breaks down, everything will change. I like that Hydroton won’t change. If I could have found them easily I would have followed Ray Barklow’s idea and just used marbles of the right size. Perfect drainage and aeration with an inert substance. Since I am almost always home and don’t have a huge collection, frequent water is not a problem for me.

‘HOF’ was awarded 6 years before ‘Harford’s Wei’ and was smaller at the time of award. The award photos show similar color.
Well, now it’s March, and mine are not looking great. The one in bark wrinkles all the time and it’s watered every two days. I think I used too large a bark (Power). The ones in moss actually have some wrinkling and I go 7 days on them. Do yours seem to get some thing that almost looks like spider mites on the leaves. It’s not, but the leaves sort of start turning more yellow and dull as they get older? How do you repot when they get too large for the pot? Wouldn’t the hydroton just fall apart?
Surprised yours take the low 80s temp of your grow room.
 
Miltoniopsis roots don’t have thick velamen. Somehow, the pseudobulb doesn’t seem to protect them from water sensitivity. My Miltoniopsis in Hydroton get heavily misted every day and then fed with a heavy watering about once a week. The roots are getting a lot of air but are never dry. Many Miltoniopsis hybrids have more heat tolerance so my 84 F mid-summer maximum hasn’t been a problem. Hydroton is great for repotting. Pull the plant out, the Hydroton falls away. The roots don’t stick to it very much. Put the plant in a new pot and add new Hydroton. I fill it about half way then hit the pot firmly on the concrete floor to settle the balls into the spaces. I don’t like pushing down from the top with anything because I think I might damage some roots. Then I fill the rest of the pot and repeat the tapping. I have a Miltoniopsis that I think is ready to be repotted soon and I will try and remember to send a picture of the roots as they come out.
 
Miltoniopsis roots don’t have thick velamen. Somehow, the pseudobulb doesn’t seem to protect them from water sensitivity. My Miltoniopsis in Hydroton get heavily misted every day and then fed with a heavy watering about once a week. The roots are getting a lot of air but are never dry. Many Miltoniopsis hybrids have more heat tolerance so my 84 F mid-summer maximum hasn’t been a problem. Hydroton is great for repotting. Pull the plant out, the Hydroton falls away. The roots don’t stick to it very much. Put the plant in a new pot and add new Hydroton. I fill it about half way then hit the pot firmly on the concrete floor to settle the balls into the spaces. I don’t like pushing down from the top with anything because I think I might damage some roots. Then I fill the rest of the pot and repeat the tapping. I have a Miltoniopsis that I think is ready to be repotted soon and I will try and remember to send a picture of the roots as they come out.
I have a bag of Hydroton that I’ve been considering using somehow. This might be a good thing to experiment on since I only have three plants. And hydrton does not have to be pre-soaked, correct?
 
I rinse the Hydroton very thoroughly before use. I would unpot your most troubled plant to see what the roots are like. A bad-root plant is going to struggle in anything for a while, but in Hydroton, with almost daily heavy misting, new roots have a chance to grow. I pot my plants deeper in Hydroton than you would in bark, etc. There is nice air at the new roots but they can grow into the LECA.
 
Would a heavy mist be with a spray bottle? Or are you using a pressurized sprayer. The goal is to keep the top of the hydroton moist/wet?
I am using a battery operated 1.5 gallon sprayer. I mist enough to make the top layer of the Hydroton wet, as though there had been a light/modest rain. This stops the upper layers of Hydroton from being dry for very long. When I check, this process also keeps the lower layers of Hydroton from becoming completely dry before the next fertigation. The other benefit is that I get no precipitation of fertilizer salts on the top layer of Hydroton. Obviously, the roots adapt to this specific environment. Since they are never dry for very long, they may not have as thick a velamen as in a dryer situation. I think the roots of any of the orchids we grow do better long term if they are always in air but are frequently wetted.
 

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