Orchids with Frozen Roots

Some merchants recommend you water orchids with ice cubes. But why? Source:

In garden centers and box stores, you’ll often see orchids bearing a label suggesting to water them with ice cubes. Just add 3 cubes of ice once a week, they say. This is a great idea… for the merchant who came up with it, because cold water will gradually kill the orchid’s roots, ensuring that the plant will die several months later, even if it seems all right while it blooms. So the home gardener cries victory at first – “I tried it and it works!” – only to be disappointed afterwards. “I don’t know what I’ve done wrong, but my orchid is dead!” Rarely does he associate  the death of the plant with the watering technique.

The “ice orchid” you bought is most likely a Phalaenopsis and it is of tropical origin. Tropical plants, by definition, never have to deal with ice or even cold temperatures. Normally, it should always be watered with tepid water. (Actually, I can’t think of one plant that should be watered with ice water!)

It is interesting to note that the garden centers and box stores that sell these “ice orchids” actually water them with tepid water until they’re sold, never with ice cubes. If you doubt that, go to one of the stores and watch them.

I find it interesting that the same companies that recommend watering their orchids with ice cubes put their orchids in pots without drainage holes, another way guaranteed to kill an orchid… eventually.

What can I say but caveat emptor.

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

1 comment on “Orchids with Frozen Roots

  1. Pingback: Curing Orchidophobia – Laidback Gardener

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