A lovely orchid - Rodriguezia venusta

Rodriguezia venusta orchid
Rodriguezia venusta

Rodriguezia venusta is a small orchid known for its delicate floral stem filled with tiny white flowers arranged in a graceful cascade. There are no rigid guidelines for the classification of micro orchids, but in general we place in this group those whose flowers do not exceed 1 cm. Regarding Rodriguezia venusta, whose flowers measure around 3 cm, we could call it a mini orchid. It is an informal denomination.

Rodriguezia venusta orchid
Rodriguezia venusta

In Brazil, popularly, this Rodriguezia is known as the bridal veil orchid. Observing the photo above, in the close up of an individual flower, we can see that the petals and sepals are merged, wrapped around the column and the lip, from top to bottom, like a veil. Since we usually observe the inflorescence as a dense white cascade of flowers, it is not always possible to notice these little details that are revealed by the macrophotography. 

Rodriguezia venusta is known as the lovely Rodriguezia. That is because the word venusta comes from the Latin venustus, which means beautiful, elegant, charming.

There is a controversy about the name of this orchid. Some orchid growers refer to it as Rodriguezia fragrans. In fact, the flowers exude an accentuated perfume. Others say that venusta has no perfume and fragrans does have it. It makes sense, but the fact is that both denominations, Rodriguezia venusta and Rodriguezia fragrans, are considered synonyms for the same orchid.

Rodriguezia venusta belongs to the subtribe Oncidiinae, where we can also find the genera Oncidium, Gomesa and Capanemia. These orchids usually present this pattern of stems filled with small scented flowers.

Rodriguezia venusta and other orchids of this genus usually occur throughout the South American continent. They can be found in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

It is an orchid whose cultivation is considered difficult, mainly due to its delicate aerial roots. Rodriguezia venusta is a plant of epiphytic habit and, like the orchids of the genus Oncidium, it does not tolerate moist roots for a long time. Also, it is not usually adapted to the culture in pots with substrate. In general, it is advisable to grow this orchid mounted in logs or pieces of wood, as well as in cachepots made of the same material.

Here in the apartment, due to the dry climate and constant winds, I cultivate this orchid in a mixture of pine bark, charcoal and moss sphagnum, in a plastic pot, a condition that is not the most recommended for this species, but my climatic situation requires it. In these circumstances, it is very important not to over water. 

Ideally, Rodriguezia venusta should be grown as a mini Vanda, with aerial roots and high levels of relative humidity. It is advisable using a nearby water source like a fountain or a humidity tray.

After some years growing this orchid, this is the first time this Rodriguezia venusta blooms under my care. I won it as a gift from Hiroko and Takashi Matsumoto. The plant was already adult and in excellent condition. It was a long period until the orchid adapted to the balcony climate, but it now seems to be stabilized, emitting new shoots and even blooming!

The peak of the flowering season of Rodriguezia venusta occurs in early summer. When well kept, the flowers last for two weeks. This is a species worth being included in the collection of every orchid enthusiast, particularly those passionate about miniatures.

The Portuguese version os this article can be found here: Orquídea Rodriguezia venusta.