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Watering orchids with ice cubes – myth or actually useful? We summarize the pros and cons

Anyone who thoroughly studies the care of orchids, at some point comes across the claim that instead of watering or dipping, you can choose another method, which is supposed to be even more efficient: the use of ice cubes. But as far as this is concerned, opinions differ. While some are convinced of the method, others strongly advise against it. So what is right? We have gone to the bottom of the issue and summarize the pros and cons. Can you safely water orchids with ice cubes or will you actually harm them?

Advantages of ice cubes in orchid care

Watering orchids with ice cubes to avoid overwatering

Sure, orchids love moisture. After all, that’s typical of their native habitat. Still, it can quickly become too much of a good thing, because waterlogging is something these plants can’t tolerate at all. And then there’s the other side: you water too infrequently and the moisture-loving aerial roots (and in the long run, of course, the rest of the plant) dry out. How do you find the happy medium? Dipping every week or every two weeks (depending on the season) for 15 minutes and then letting the excess water drain away, as well as spraying the orchids are one option. Or you can water the orchids with ice cubes.

Ice thaws gradually, watering the plant evenly

  • The idea is that the water can be absorbed very gradually by the substrate and the plant. If instead you were to water quite classically with watering can, most of the water would drain directly into the planter.
  • The method seems simpler and less time consuming. You simply take the cube out of the freezer, place it on the substrate and you’ve done the job.
  • Drained excess water does not need to be disposed of each time to avoid waterlogging.
  • If you water orchids in hanging baskets directly, you run the risk of them overflowing and flooding the patio/balcony. In such cases, ice cubes would be a good alternative.

What are the arguments against it?

What to consider when using ice for watering

There are also some claims that are supposed to speak in favor of using ice cubes, but are not really true. For example, some claim that using frozen water prevents germs because ice kills them. However, this is a myth and not an advantage over regular water.

Also false is that the temperature difference created by watering with ice should promote flowering. While such differences between day and night are indeed important for the plant to move into the growing phase and then into the flowering phase, this is not achieved by using ice cubes. Furthermore, this only cools the roots, if at all, and not the above ground portion of the orchid. The plant may go into heat shock or even dormancy , delaying growth.

Orchid care with ice compared to dipping and the watering can

Other things that militate against the use of ice:

  • So overwatering is one of the main reasons why some recommend watering with ice cubes. But it’s actually not the duration of dipping, for example, that could cause overwatering, but rather the frequency. Therefore, you could just reduce the frequency and only ever dip or water when the top layer of the substrate is dry. This will provide the plant with adequate moisture and will not need to be repeated as often as watering with ice cubes.
  • When you water orchids with ice cubes, you do avoid waterlogging and too much water. But in return, you also risk a lack of water.
  • You must always remember to prepare a supply of ice cubes.
  • If the ice comes into contact with the plant, it could be damaged.
  • For watering, water at room temperature is always the better choice (regardless of the plant), as large temperature differences can cause stress to the roots.

Watering orchids with ice cubes – What should you consider?

Watering orchids with ice cubes - advantages and disadvantages of watering

If you do want to water your orchids with ice cubes, keep the following things in mind:

  • The orchid is a tropical plant that cannot tolerate temperatures that are too low, let alone those of frozen water. Therefore, the cube should never rest on a root or touch stems or leaves. Choose a place where there is only substrate.
  • 2 to 3 ice cubes per week (or 4 to 5 for smaller cubes), are considered sufficient. However, don’t necessarily take this as a rule, as it can vary depending on the weather/season and the plant. For example, dry heating air can dry out your orchid faster. For this reason, always check the substrate. If the top layer is dry, watering is the order of the day.

Conclusion: Water orchids with ice cubes or not.

Watering orchids with ice cubes - time-saving and simple method.

So, if you do it right, watering with the help of ice cubes can actually prove to be very useful. Especially if you’re worried about giving the plant too much water, this is a wonderful alternative. When dipping, on the other hand, you might well forget to take the plants out of the water again in time, or you might dip too often while the frozen water gradually thaws and provides the plant with just the right amount of water without causing waterlogging.

During particularly dry periods, the ice cube method might well take more time than the classic dipping , which you only need to do once a week, because it gives the plant the best chance to soak up moisture. The cubes, on the other hand, release less water, so you will have to repeat watering more often.

So whether the method is suitable for you, you have to decide for yourself. It is important that the ice does not touch any parts of the plant, so they do not freeze.