How many of these tempting displays have you seen at your supermarket or big box store? More than a few, I’ll bet. These orchids, which are Phalaenopsis, or moth orchids, are grown by the millions. The tag says to just drop a couple of ice cubes into the pot every week or so and the plant will be fine.
As an orchid grower and member of a RI orchid society, I can tell you that two ice cubes are not remotely enough water for “phals,” which also hate having anything cold on their roots. So the plant usually dies and the buyer goes out and gets another one. This would have been completely unnecessary if the owner had simply brought the plant to the sink every week and watered it well until water ran out the bottom of the pot.
We had a respected orchid-grower speak at our last orchid club meeting, and he warned that the invasion of masses of Taiwanese plants is driving the growers – the people who really know orchids and sell way more species than phals – out of business. One of my favorite growers closed shop just this year.
If you like orchids, keep an eye out for orchid shows in your area and go. Check out the amazing variety of plants and buy directly from a grower, whose orchids, in most cases, will be no more expensive than the big box plants.
And please, if you already have one of those big box plants, do NOT add ice.