Ice Cube Trick for Watering your Orchids?

First off, there is no “Ice Cube Trick” for watering your Phalaenopsis, or any other kind of orchid.  That being said, I often encounter this question regarding watering orchids among beginners.

Most of the members of the orchid family, the Phalaenopsis included, are tropical plants. This means they don’t know what to do with ice or cold temperatures in general. Please don’t use ice cubes to water your orchid. Instead, water it thoroughly rather than partially, as often suggested by the care instructions provided with your orchid. By watering it thoroughly, you’ll approximate the Phalaenopsis’ native environment that normally includes heavy rain showers.

The trick about watering Phalaenopsis orchids is that their roots should be moist, not wet, and should not be allowed to dry out. Consequently, after watering thoroughly and allowing the water to drain, expect the orchid media (the material in which the orchid resides) to be wet, but to eventually dry out until it is simply damp. It is imperative that the roots not be too damp as orchid roots will rot if kept too wet. Phalaenopsis fans will often refer to this as saying phalaenopsis don’t like “wet feet.” Be sure that the pot in which your orchid is kept will drain freely. If you take a close look at most “orchid pots” you’ll find that they are all designed to drain freely. Planters and pots that don’t allow water to drain away will kill your orchid.

Once all of your blossums have dropped, we’d recommend repotting the orchid, especially if the orchid is potted in spaghnum moss. Moreover, sphagnum moss will only last about 2 years at most, so you need to plan on repotting your orchid some time in the future. The good news is that the Jacksonville Orchid Society conducts Re-Potting Clinics at the Mandarin Ace Hardware store (see http://jaxorchidsociety.org/re-potting-clinics/). You are invited to visit and we’ll try to answer any of your questions.

Our website is a source of information (and will get better as we redevelop the website). You can also find good information on orchids in general at the American Orchid Society – http://www.aos.org. You may also find their information on the Phalaenopsis orchid of interest as well at: http://www.aos.org/orchids/culture-sheets/novice-phalaenopsis.aspx or http://www.aos.org/orchids/culture-sheets/phalaenopsis.aspx.

It’s actually funny… I’ve been hearing the “ice cube” watering instructions for years, but have never seen them until several months ago when a new grower presented an orchid with written instructions describing the ice cube trick!

More importantly, you are cordially invited to attend any of our re-potting sessions or general meetings (see http://jaxorchidsociety.org/category/monthly-meeting/).  Bring along your orchids and questions and we’ll get you squared away.

– Art Russell
http://orchid-mans-son.com