One of the most hotly-contested debates around orchid care is whether you can water orchids using ice cubes. It can be difficult to sift through the conflicting information, leaving inexperienced orchid growers in limbo. In this article, we’ll find out if you can water orchids using ice cubes.
Can You Water Orchids Using Ice Cubes?
With proper care, orchids can live for years.
Overwatering is often the most significant danger when caring for most types of orchids. These plants need consistently moist but not waterlogged growing mediums. Overwatering often leads to root rot, which can kill your orchid.
In theory, watering your orchid using ice cubes helps prevent overwatering. The ice cubes will gradually melt, trickling water into the growing medium without completely soaking it. Supporters of the ice cube method may even be backed up by science.
A joint study between Ohio State University and the University of Georgia evaluated how Phalaenopsis orchids reacted to ice cubes. The results showed that watering using ice cubes didn’t affect the duration of the flowers. The study also found that no excess water came out of the growing medium.
So you can use ice cubes to water your orchid if you want. But according to the Oregon Orchid Society, the ice cube method doesn’t provide orchids with enough water.
Many orchids are epiphytes, which attach themselves to host trees and absorb moisture from the surrounding air using aerial roots. According to the OOS, the ice cube method doesn’t reflect how epiphytic orchids obtain water. The trickle-down effect of the melting ice cubes simply doesn’t get the growing medium wet enough.
Using a watering can rather than ice cubes allows you to keep your orchid’s growing medium consistently moist. Although some excess water drains out the bottom of the orchid pot, the roots can also absorb moisture as and when they need it.
How to Water Orchids Using Ice Cubes
If you want to try this method, use about three ice cubes a week to water your orchids. Place the ice cubes on top of the growing medium and allow them to melt. However, don’t let the ice cubes touch any parts of the plant, such as the leaves or aerial roots.
Should You Water Your Orchid Using Ice Cubes?
Although you can use ice cubes to water your orchid, using a watering can provides the best results. This allows you to keep the growing medium consistently moist as long as it drains properly.
However you water your orchid, always check that it actually needs a drink by looking at the roots. If the roots look full and green, don’t water. But if the roots look silver, give your orchid a drink. Always use room-temperature filtered water when watering your orchid.
It is possible to water orchids using ice cubes. The technique even has some scientific support. However, some orchid growers believe that it’s a bad idea because it might not provide enough moisture for many orchids which may restrict the plant from reblooming. Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you use a watering can or ice cubes to water your orchids.
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.