Watering Orchids With Ice Cubes: Yay or Nay?

The world has more species of orchids than any other plant group, and they are all unique. Despite their exclusivity, orchids also need the basics, like water and sunlight, to thrive outside their natural environment. 

The challenge comes in figuring out how much water to give your orchid and how often they need this sustenance.

If you're an orchid grower, and have been doing your research, you've probably come across the advice to water orchids with ice cubes. 

Is this good advice? Or will it be bad for your beautiful plants? 

Orchids Need Special Treatment

The difference between orchids and other houseplants is not just that they are exotic and beautiful; they also require completely different care.

  • In nature, orchids live in trees and not on the ground.
  • Orchids are tropical plants, so they come from hot and humid areas.
  • Putting them in pots in our homes in colder and drier climates means they need extra special care.

Some orchid growers swear by watering them with ice cubes. Many swear by tools like a clear ice maker to make purified ice to water their orchids. This nifty gadget will help you make the purest ice possible from the comfort of your home. 

But is this what your orchids need?

Orchid Basics

Because these beautiful plants come from hot areas, using ice cubes to water them may seem a bit strange. Is it strange? Let's first explore the basic needs of an orchid!

  • Orchid roots need to be watered and left until they are almost entirely dry before they are watered again.
  • If your orchid's roots are too wet, they risk rotting and dying.
  • If the roots die, the orchid dies as well.
This gets tricky! It means that you have to get the water ratio just right or risk your plant dying. 

How Often Should You Water an Orchid?

Just like the petals on this tropical plant, watering an orchid is a delicate process. How often you water your plant is determined by the climate and the environment it is in.

  • It's best to water it only once a week during the colder months.
  • Warmer and drier months require more frequent watering (i.e. twice a week). 

The size of the container your orchid is in also influences how often you need to water it, regardless of the climate:

  • An orchid in a 6-inch pot typically needs to be watered every 7 days,
  • An orchid planted in a 4-inch pot generally needs water every 5 or 6 days. 

While this takes care of how often your orchid needs water, the next question is how much water it needs, and this is where it becomes even more challenging.

Because orchids are so sensitive, you can easily overwater them, or even underwater them, especially if you're just guessing water ratios.

Avoid Too Much or Too Little Water

Overwatering an orchid is one of the quickest ways to kill it. Pre-measuring water will take out the guesswork and help you to prevent this from happening.

This is where ice cubes for orchids come in. With an ice cube, orchid watering ratios are precise, which means you'll be able to give your orchid the exact quantity of water needed to flourish.

How to water orchids with ice cubes? Simply place 2 to 3 ice cubes in the soil. Yes, it is that simple!

However, simple as it is, some say that this type of watering is not suitable for your sensitive orchid. The orchids and ice cubes debate is ongoing, and a lot of it has to do with untruths around the topic.

Dispelling the Myths

Here are 3 myths we've come across about watering orchids with ice cubes:

Myth #1: Ice cubes kill orchids

Some say that using an ice cube for orchids' watering needs will kill them instead.According to research (and many orchid growers!), this is simply not true. Even if ice cubes are super cold and the orchid's natural habitat is hot, it does not mean the chill will kill your plant.

Myth #2: It's unnatural

Watering your orchids with ice mimics the slow drip of water from plant leaves intropical climates, where orchids originate. So, even if you won't find cold water in an orchid's natural habitat, the way the ice slowly melts still makes sense.

Myth #3: Ice cube watering is a marketing scheme

Critics have claimed that unscrupulous shop owners use this way of watering orchids to make orchid growers kill their plants so they can buy more. Quite the opposite is true!

Those who recommend this method have probably tried it themselves and are merely giving good advice. 

Just like there are 3 myths about ice cube watering, there are also 3 compelling reasons why it works!

3 Reasons Why Watering Orchids With Ice Works

Just like there are arguments against ice cube watering, there are reasons why it's worth a try:

Reason #1. Accuracy is crucial

Caring for an orchid is delicate work! It's so easy to pour too much water into your orchid. If you use ice cubes, your water is already correctly measured out; you just need to slip it into the soil!

Reason #2. Slow and steady does it

As the ice cube melts, the moisture slowly but surely seeps into the orchid's soil. This allows the roots to gently absorb the water the plant needs to grow and thrive. This way, the water does not collect at the bottom of the pot. 

Reason #3. A simplified process

This watering method is easy to remember; you could even turn it into a routine really quickly! The process of taking out ice cubes, placing them in the soil, and then filling up the ice tray again is a lot more memorable than merely watering your orchid!

The Cold Hard Facts: Should You Water Orchid with Ice Cube?

There is a difference in opinion when it comes to watering orchids using ice cubes. Some people believe that it's the best way to take care of this type of plant, while others think it could harm the orchid.

If adding ice cubes to your precious plant works for you, go for it. There is no reason to stop caring for your orchid in this way. If this is not what you ordinarily do, but you feel you want to try it out, why not? 

Enough people vouch for this method of watering to make it worth trying. However, if you do go this route, be sure to use only top quality clear ice!