Just Add Ice?

I was eating lunch at a local seafood shack the other day, and noticed an orchid languishing on the window ledge. Orchid lover that I am, I picked up the pot to take a closer look. There were two brown, dead spikes, and the plant, a Phalaenopsis, was very, very dry.

I mentioned to the owner that if she wanted to keep this plant alive, she would have to give it a lot more water, and she replied that she had been following the directions on the tag that came with the plant. These instructions were for a “Just Add Ice” orchid, and they called for placing three ice cubes per week on the potting medium and letting them melt, thereby watering the plant. In the case of this Phal, it was obvious that three ice cubes per week were nowhere near enough. The leaves were starting to shrivel, and the pot was light as a feather. And, like all houseplants, orchids HATE ice cold water.

Having never heard of “Just Add Ice” orchids, I got on the Internet and found the company’s website. There was plenty of information on how to grow the plants, and even a forum where “Just Add Ice” owners would write in with their questions. I must say that most of the questions I read involved bud and flower drop – probably involving  plants that were extremely thirsty!

The best way to water a Phalaenopsis is to bring it to the sink and water it well, allowing the excess to run out through the bottom of the pot. The plant should never sit IN water, because the roots will rot. I usually water mine about once a week unless it is very hot, in which case I water more often.

I suggested to the Phal owner in the restaurant that she water it well in the sink, and she did so immediately. It seems that like so many of today’s gardening techniques, “ice watering” is more about convenience than proper  culture.

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About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
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8 Responses to Just Add Ice?

  1. Wendy says:

    sounds a little gimmicky too!

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  2. Hello – The easiest way to kill an orchid is to over-water it and by using 3 ice cubes a week; the Just Add Ice Orchids receive the perfect amount of pre-measured water! We recommend using the orchid roots are a great indicator for watering. Well-watered roots should be a healthy green color, while grayish-white roots indicate more water is needed and an additional ice cube can be used. We encourage you to try this watering method for yourself!

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    • dirtynailz says:

      I beg to differ. Orchids despise cold water, which is why orchid growers always use tepid water. Icing their roots is even worse. In addition, they do NOT receive nearly enough water from 3 ice cubes a week. Give me a break.
      As for root color, the white on the aerial roots of phalaenopsis orchids is velamen, and supposed to be grayish-white, with a greener growing tip. This has NOTHING to do with the plant needing water.
      It is unfortunate that “Just Add Ice” orchids are appearing everywhere, because the culture methods are almost guaranteed to fail.

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  3. Nat says:

    For the life of me, I just can’t understand why orchids are being advertised as needing to be watered with ice cubes…

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    • dirtynailz says:

      I guess they are appealing to customers who don’t want to put any effort into caring for the plants. I don’t have a problem bringing an orchid to the sink to water it properly. These orchids are treated as disposable decorative items to be tossed once the flowers are done. It’s a shame, because I have a couple they are more than 10 years old and still flower every year.

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      • Nat says:

        I think it’s common sense to not use sink water that’s too hot or cold, but does it matter if the water isn’t like room temperature? I usually use water that is somewhere inbetween warm but not too cold.

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      • dirtynailz says:

        No, I just use cold tap water – not freezing.

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