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Horticulture Questions and Answers

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Should I water my orchid plant with ice cubes?

In some stores moth orchids (Phalaenopsis cvs.) are being marketed as “just add ice orchids”. The recommendation is to water the plants by placing three ice cubes on the surface of the potting mix each week. This is not a good practice! The orchid plants grown in our homes are tropical orchids, accustomed in nature to warm tropical rains. They should be watered only with tepid (room temperature) water. Ice cubes or very cold tap water is harmful to the roots and will damage the plant.

In addition, watering with ice cubes will not provide enough moisture for the plants. Orchids should be watered by allowing tepid water to run through the pot and out the bottom until the potting medium is completely soaked. There should be no standing water in the pot saucer when it is replaced under the pot after watering, as this also can damage the roots. Depending upon the conditions in your home Phalaenopsis orchids should be watered by this method about once a week.