Ice Cubes

People often ask me whether to water their orchids with ice cubes. While I know using ice can work for some orchids, I advise against it. Cold water can damage flowers, leaves, and roots. Most commonly sold orchids originate from the tropics, where they never experience anything close to freezing temps. Even orchids that come from high elevation jungles, like Masdevallias and cool growing Dendrobiums, don’t want cold water while they’re growing or blooming.

While melting ice allows the orchid to slowly absorb water, two successive regular-temperature waterings given 10 minutes apart can accomplish the same. Also, ice cubes may not provide enough water to run through the pot and flush out fertilizer residues.

If you’ve been using ice successfully, it’s likely that you have a tough, modern orchid hybrid. However, even resilient hybrids may produce less blooms than normal because of the cold. For all plants, cold slows down metabolic processes that are essential for growth. If ice has been working for you, then don’t stop on my account. But otherwise, save the ice for your lemonade or cocktail.

Explore posts in the same categories: Problems, Watering

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9 Comments on “Ice Cubes”

  1. dee Says:

    thank you very much for that superb article

  2. Peter Says:

    I always was told that ice works well, so this is really interesting info. It makes sense that orchids don’t want cold, so how have we been so easily convinced that its a good idea?

  3. Elisa Says:

    Your point certainly seems logical enough. Anyone out there who uses ice cubes successfully? I’d like to hear your perspective, too.

  4. nancy Says:

    i’ve used ice cubes, but come to think of it, those phals haven’t rebloomed, so i’m not the best spokesperson.

  5. khj Says:

    I water with ice all the time and my orchids bloom just fine. Am I the only one?

  6. Linda P Says:

    I was giving an Orchid that it said to give it 3 Ice cubes to water it . I have been doing that. It has bloomed all summer and still has 5 orchid on it. New leaf in starting to grow,so I was wondering if I sure give it some Acid-loving plant food it now for it is down Sept 1 and when do they go dormate.
    Thank you for your time
    Linda P

  7. Marc Says:

    It’s fine to fertilize your orchid. You don’t say what kind of orchid you have, and not all orchids go dormant for winter (for instance, Phals and Paphs don’t.) Most orchid growers find that a dilute fertilizer solution used frequently, “weekly, weakly,” works best.

  8. AboutOrchids » Blog Archive » Spring News Says:

    […] a New York Times column on indoor gardening agrees with my opinion not to use ice cubes to water orchids […]

  9. AboutOrchids » Blog Archive » More Orchids in an Ice Rink Says:

    […] at last weekend’s Orchid Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania Show in an Erie ice rink. Since I advise against mixing orchids with ice, you’ll be happy to know that the skating ice was covered, and the ice rink was room […]