Anyone who has thoroughly researched orchid care will at some point come across the statement that instead of watering or soaking, there is another watering method that is said to be even more efficient: using ice cubes. But as far as that is concerned, opinions differ. While some are convinced of the method, others strongly advise against it. What is right? We got to the bottom of the topic and summarize the advantages and disadvantages for you. Is it safe to water orchids with ice cubes or does this damage them?
Sure, orchids love moisture. After all, that’s typical of their homeland. Nevertheless, it can quickly become too much of a good thing, because these plants do not tolerate waterlogging at all. And then there is the other side: you water too little and the moisture-loving aerial roots (and of course the rest of the plant in the long run) dry up. How do you find the balance? Soaking for 15 minutes every week or two (depending on the season) and then draining off excess water and spraying the orchids is one option. Or you can water the orchids with ice cubes.
The idea is that the water can be gradually absorbed by the substrate and the plant. If you were to water with a watering can instead, most of the water would flow directly into the planter.
The method seems easier and less time consuming. You simply take the cube out of the freezer, place it on the substrate and you’re done.
Drained, excess water does not have to be disposed of every time to avoid waterlogging.
If you water orchids in hanging baskets directly, there is a risk that they will overflow and flood the balcony. In such cases, ice cubes would be a good alternative.
What speaks against it?
There are some claims that support the use of ice cubes, but are actually not really true. Some people claim that using frozen water prevents germs because ice kills them. However, this is a myth and not an advantage over normal water.
The opinion that the temperature difference created by watering with ice is supposed to encourage flowering is also wrong. While such differences between day and night are indeed important in order for the plant to transition into the dormant phase and then into the flowering phase, this is not achieved by using ice cubes. In addition, only the roots are cooled, if at all, and not the above-ground part of the orchid. The plant may go into thermal shock or even dormancy, delaying growth.
Other considerations that speak against using ice:
Overwatering is one of the main reasons some people recommend watering with ice cubes. But actually it is not the duration of soaking, for example, that could cause over-hydration, but rather the frequency. Therefore, you could just reduce the frequency and only soak or water when the top layer of the substrate is dry. This provides the plant with sufficient moisture and does not have to be repeated as often as watering with ice cubes.
If you water orchids with ice cubes, you avoid waterlogging and too much water. But you also risk a lack of water.
One must always remember to prepare a supply of ice cubes.
If the ice comes into contact with the plant, it could be damaged.
Room temperature water is always a better choice for watering (regardless of the plant) as large temperature differences can stress the roots.
Water orchids with ice cubes – what should you consider?
If you decide to water your orchids with ice cubes, please note the following:
The orchid is a tropical plant that does not tolerate too low temperatures, let alone those of frozen water. The cube should therefore never rest on a root or touch stems or leaves. Choose a spot with only substrate.
2 to 3 ice cubes per week (or 4 to 5 for smaller cubes) are considered sufficient. However, you should not necessarily take this as a rule, as this can vary depending on the weather/season and plant. For example, hot dry air can dry out your orchid quicker. 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?
So if done properly, watering with ice cubes can actually be very useful. This is a wonderful alternative, especially if you are concerned about watering the plant too much. When soaking, on the other hand, you could forget to take the plants out of the water in time or you could soak 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 could take more time than the classic soaking, which you only have to do once a week, because it allows the plant to soak up moisture. The cubes, on the other hand, give off less water, so you have to repeat the watering more often.
It is up to you to decide whether the method is suitable for you. It is important that the ice does not touch any parts of the plants so that they do not freeze to death.