You’ve seen it, read it, heard it, and done it yourself. But as you probably know by now, this orchid growing hack, as they call it, simply doesn’t work. Let’s get straight to business and bust that misleading orchid watering myth once and for all.
Should I Water My Orchid with Ice?
The answer to this is NO.
We hate to break it to you, but watering your orchids, or any houseplant for that matter, will only do them more harm than good. Here’s why.
The ice cube theory, according to its proponents, is a genius solution to the common dilemmas most orchid growing newbies encounter. It effectively benefits an orchid plant by:
- Preventing overwatering
- Eliminating bad bacteria
- Stimulating the orchid plant from dormancy and triggering reblooming
On the contrary, most orchid experts strongly refute these statements.
“The idea of putting ice on orchids seems very counterintuitive. After all, Phalaenopsis orchids, the main orchid being promoted to enjoy ice-water culture, are from Southeast Asia – an area that has probably not seen ice since the last Ice Age,” the Oregon Orchid Society explained.
Ice Cubes Do Not Prevent Overwatering in Orchids
They say overwatering is the number one reason why most house orchids die. But with a couple of ice cubes slowly melting and being absorbed by the potting compound down to the roots, they say this will never happen because it provides a controlled amount of water and optimal absorption.
While it is true that overwatering is detrimental to orchid plants, it’s of utmost importance to understand what “overwatering” means for each specific orchid. In general, overwatering only happens when the roots of your orchid plant are wet all the time. Constant wetness in the roots quickly rots it out.
In their natural habitat in tropical forests, orchids love and enjoy a level of humidity. To mimic this setting, experienced orchid growers swear by the drenching method. This involves giving a phalaenopsis orchid, for example, a good watering once a week and letting it dry before watering again.
Unfortunately, this healthy humidity is not achieved by putting a few pieces of ice cubes on your orchid plant whenever you feel like it.
The Truth About Ice Cubes Orchids
Store-bought orchids are prone to overwatering because of two reasons: poor drainage and inappropriate potting compound.
More often than not, the orchids that you get from flower shops who, of course, strongly advocate the ice cube watering method sell low-cost, mass-produced orchid plants that come with cheap pots with no efficient drainage and dense moss. With this combination, it’s easy for the potting compound to be soggy and lead to decayed roots even with just meager amount of watering.
How To Water Your Orchids Properly
Water your orchid plants generously, but make sure they go through the drainage holes and don’t remain stagnant. Only water your orchids when the potting material has completely dried out.
The American Orchid Society says watering a day before the potting compound dries out completely is the best way to go. There are three ways to check:
- Lift the pot to see if it’s super light (a sign of dryness)
- Poke the material with your own finger to feel if it’s parched or moist
- Insert a sharpened pencil into the medium. It’s moist if it comes out darkened
Read this article for more orchid care tips.
Ice Cubes Do Not Kill Bad Bacteria
Freezing water kills bad bugs and saves your innocent orchid plant from fungal infection and other bacteria-borne diseases, at least that’s what they said.
This argument almost doesn’t make sense. First of all, orchid infections come from other plants, not water. In addition, the current water system in the country goes through several filtration processes, some of which almost unnecessary and deemed unsafe for human consumption already. Nevertheless, devoid of any bacteria, good or bad.
Ice Cubes Do Not Make Orchid Rebloom
They say watering with ice will trigger and encourage a dormant phalaenopsis orchid to bloom again, the same effect winter has on an orchid plant.
However, orchid experts and horticulturalists advise against this, as ice touching any part of an orchid plant can ultimately damage it and cause infections.
Orchid dormancy is normal and only means that your orchid is taking a break. Let nature run its course. A far safer technique to trigger reblooming is to expose your orchid plant to lower temperatures. If you’re trying to rebloom cattleya orchids, phalaenopsis orchids, or oncidium orchid, 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the morning and 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night is an ideal spectrum.