Orchid of the Month

Kevin Wigley

Kevin Wigley

My name is Kevin Wigley and, as I have been invited to write a monthly article for the Orchid Study Group, I thought it might be good to introduce myself and give you all an idea of who I am and what I’m all about.

I suppose I must have been growing orchids for somewhere between twenty and twenty-five years now, so I guess that makes orchids pretty much a lifelong passion of mine. I won’t divulge my exact age, so let’s say I tick the 35-40 box when form-filling. I live in the Midlands, not far from, but not in Birmingham. During office hours, I work for a small family- run plastic moulding business, specializing in low volume parts for various other industries, ranging from aerospace to construction. I would love to be able to make a living out of my hobby, but in this modern age of cheap, imported plants and throwaway culture, I haven’t found a way of realizing this dream in a way that doesn’t seem to me a sell-out.

I don’t have a greenhouse (at least, not that I use for growing anything other than tomatoes). I grow my orchids in an adapted room in my house, under lights. This generally seems very agreeable to the orchids, and I think that my results are improving year on year. I rather fancy that were I to build a greenhouse in the future (which isn’t impossible), I would discover that it comes with a wealth of problems of its own, much the same as growing under lights does.

I am, by my own admission, very much an amateur orchid grower, and I don’t get involved with growing from seed and that side of things, as I’m far too impatient to wait for babies to grow to flowering size. Far better to leave that to people who know what they’re doing. I guess I must own probably three or four hundred orchids, mostly in the intermediate to warm-growing category, since there’s no point growing orchids that aren’t going to thrive for me, just because I think they’re pretty. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t killed my fair share of orchids through choosing plants inappropriate to my growing conditions. These days, I try (not always successfully) to exercise a little more restraint. I have a particular penchant for Coelogyne, and Dendrochilum, though my favourite tends to be whatever happens to be in bloom when I’m asked.

Hopefully, as we get to know each other a little better over the coming months, I’ll give more information on how I grow specific plants and on the growing conditions in my grow-room. It would also be nice to show that anyone of any age and ability can successfully grow orchids, and that there really is no secret mystique to this hobby at all


Click link to view previous Orchid of the Month articles.
Orchid of the Month – February 2016 – Paphiopedilum x leeanum.
Orchid of the Month – March 2016 – Brassolaeliocattleya Young min Orange
Orchid of the Month – April 2016 – The Epidendrum floribundum conundrum.
Orchid of the Month – May 2016 – Eulophia guineensis.
Orchid of the Month – June 2016 – Phalaenopsis mannii
Orchid of the Month – July 2016 – Phalaenopsis tetraspis
Orchid of the Month – August 2016 – Miltonia spectabilis
Orchid of the Month – September 2016 – Prosthechea cochleata hybrid
Orchid of the Month – October 2016 – Coelogyne Rebecca Howe
Orchid of the Month – November 2016 – Cymbidium ensifolium cultivars.
Orchid of the Month – December 2016 – Coelia bella
Orchid of the Month – January 2017- Encyclia cordigera
Orchid of the Month – February 2017 – Coelogyne usitana
Orchid of the Month – March 2017 – Phalaenopsis Sweet Memory ‘Liodoro’
Orchid of the Month- April 2017 – Coelogyne X Neroli Cannon
Orchid of the Month – May 2017 – Asconopsis  Irene Dobkin ‘Elmhurst’
Orchid of the Month – June 2017 -Warczewiczella discolor (formerly Cochleanthes discolor)
Orchid of the Month – July 2017- Coelogyne Bird In Flight
Orchid of the Month – August 2017 – Coelogyne speciosa
Orchid of the Month -September 2017 – Encyclia tampensis var. alba
Orchid of the Month – October 2017 – Bulbophyllum Valley Isle Queen
Orchid of the Month – November 2017 – Coelogyne pandurata
Orchid of the Month – December 2017 – Galeandra baueri
Orchid of the Month – January 2018 – Miltonia Queen Ann
Orchid of the Month – February 2018 -Coelogyne lawrenceana
Orchid of the Month – March 2018 – Pabanisia Eva’s Blue Amazon
Orchid of the Month – April 2018 – Brassavola nodosa
Orchid of the Month – May 2018 – Dendrobium Golden Aya
Orchid of the Month – June 2018 – Promenzella ‘Sunlight’
Orchid of the Month – July 2018- Epidendrum Plastic Doll
Orchid of the Month – August 2018 – Prosthechea prismatocarpa
Orchid of the Month – September 2018 – Coelogyne chloroptera
Orchid of the Month – October 2018 – Coelogyne Lyme Bay
Orchid of the Month – November 2018 – Coelogyne pulverula

Orchid of the Month – December 2018 – Milmiltonia Sunset

Milmiltonia Sunset is rapidly becoming one of those hybrids that one can almost become tired of seeing. It’s everywhere – DIY outlets, supermarkets, garden centres, etc. Yet somehow, one only has to glimpse its beautiful flowers, and its ubiquity is instantly forgiven. My plant was from a DIY store and was very cheap for a multi-lead plant that even came with a decorative pot.

The parentage behind this hybrid appears to be Milmiltonia Norma McRae x Miltonia Goodale Moir, and it was registered in 2011. There is some confusion over the naming, as a much older hybrid also exists, Miltonia Sunset, whose parents are MIltonia regnellii x Miltonia Goodale Moir, and it was registered in 1961. It is possible that the older hybrid has been lost, but the new one is a close contender, as the parentage is similar, but it incorporates some Miltoniopsis DNA which broadens the lip and introduces some waterfall patterning, but seemingly, little else.

Whichever name turns out to be the correct one, it is a gorgeous flower and an easy grower: one of that rare breed of orchid that makes a good houseplant in its own right. It enjoys intermediate conditions, but is adaptable to both warmer and cooler temperatures. The foliage is a light yellowish-green when the plant receives the correct light levels, but care should be taken not to expose it to too much light, as this can both burn the leaves and lead to less intensely coloured blooms. As is often the case with Miltonia, the tall compressed pseudobulbs are spaced out along the rhizome, though the spacing is not as pronounced as in many Miltonia species. Roots are fine and are produced in a flush from the base of new shoots when the latter are a few inches high, but generally before flowering.

The blooms themselves are produced on a lateral inflorescence that arises from between the basal leaves of the pseudobulb, and which generally bears between three and seven flowers which open almost simultaneously. They have an indistinct but pleasant scent and bright yellow tepals with a flared lip, which is basically white, but strongly marked with pinkish purple and a red waterfall at the centre. The flowers last for several weeks in good condition and retain their colour best if kept out of direct sun, especially in summer. Occasionally two inflorescences may be produced, one from either side of the pseudobulb, and each pseudobulb is capable of producing two shoots when growth resumes. This results in a nicely clumping plant.

Milmiltonia Sunset