by VJ Day
( Ohio)

Just purchased two orchids, I watered them by placing 3 ice cubes on the soil, one is already starting to lose it's flowers. Is the ice cube method a bad idea.

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Mar 15, 2012
Cable's Reply
by: Cable Thompson

Watering orchids with the ice cube method is unlikely to have caused the flowers to drop; they may have simply been old. (It can be hard to know how long the plant has been in bloom when you buy it!)

The ice cube watering method isn't my preferred technique, though: you can simply stick your finger into the potting mix to see how moist it is (or leave a chopstick there and just pull it out when you want to check) and water as needed by taking the plant to a sink and running water through the pot. For Phalaenopsis orchids and many others, the right time to water is just as the potting mix approaches dryness, for others is it just after it dries out; the types of orchids page will help you know for your particular orchid.

Hope that helps! Leave more comments if you still have questions!

Apr 13, 2012
by: Reuben Kellum (Israel)

I've recently bought 2 orchids, one of them being a Phelenopsis and its my 1st time caring for them.

I've done some searches about watering and I've seen 2 methods, the ice cube, and drenching the plant under runing watter and draining.

why or why not to use each method? how often to water? and how often to furtelise?

Is there any reason why not to just give it water with a cup like any other plant and drain the exess water?

I was allso wondering about the woodchips the orchids are in. Dose the orchid get any nutrients from them? Won't watering under the sink wash the nutrients away?

Apr 14, 2012
Watering, fertilizing
by: Cable Thompson

Typically, the potting mix drains water freely enough that getting it thoroughly wet with a cup, watering can, or similar tool would involve using enough water to make a big mess. So taking the plant to a sink works better.

The ice cube method is seldom used by experienced orchid growers; it's mainly recommended to beginners as a non-intimidating way to water. (Apparently people think it's easier than "Just Add Water!", though I find that hard to understand.)

The bark chips in the potting mix are not a nutrient source; orchids growing naturally as epiphytes on the bark of trees just use the trees to get closer to the light, not as a source of energy. Bark is used in orchid potting mixes because it permits enough airflow to keep the roots happy, while still absorbing enough moisture to keep the roots in a humid environment.

Fertilizing orchids is best done frequently, and at a low fertilizer concentration; the standard advice is to fertilize "weakly, weekly" with a fertilizer formulated specifically for orchids.

If fertilizer salts build up in the potting mix, that can damage the roots; it's a good idea to periodically flush the pot with water that doesn't have fertilizer in it to prevent this buildup.

Apr 14, 2012
more quesstions
by: Reuben Kellum

how can you tell that there is a salt build up?

how does the plant react?

and how often should you flush the pot?

May 12, 2012
Cable's Reply
by: Cable Thompson

A salt buildup looks like whitish dust that you'll see on the potting mix or the sides of the pot. It's not a major problem, but it can damage the roots. To prevent salt buildup, rinse the pot with water thoroughly about once a month; distilled water, reverse osmosis water, or rain water works best for this because it has less dissolved minerals already present.

Aug 31, 2012
Ice cubes and Cymbidiums
by: Sari

Hi, I have heard of people placing ice cubes on cymbidiums plants at night to ensure the temperature differential requirements between day and night is met. One would have to do it for a couple of weeks and at the correct time.

Sep 01, 2012
Re: Cymbidiums
by: Cable Thompson

Cymbidums do need cold temperatures to initiate flowering, so ice cubes might help a little. In Minnesota, where I live, I tend to simply leave the plants outside well into the fall; I let the temperatures get down into the low 30's Fahrenheit before bringing them inside, though I think that's colder than they require. For them to bloom best, most say nighttime temperatures should get to the mid 50's or below for a sustained period. If you live someplace that doesn't get cool enough, you might have to get creative :)

Feb 18, 2014
Yellowing buds
by: Rebecca

I have been enjoying 4 phalaenopsis orchids for quite a while. I thoroughly water and drain at the sink weekly. They often rebloom profusely, but sometimes the buds turn yellow and drop off before they bloom. What's causing this?

Jun 02, 2014
leaf yellow discolored approx 3.5 inches diameter
by: Junes

I just got a white phalenopsis orchid delivered from a florist as a very special gift and noticed that there is a yellow discoloration on 1 leaf on the end of the leaf measuring 5cm x3cm and the end of this leaf has a cut. Does this mean it is a diseased plant?
This is my first experience with an orchid. Should I return it to the florist?
Please advise as how to care for an orchid ie watering and sunlight.

Jun 03, 2014
Cable's Reply
by: Cable Thompson

If one of the leaves has a yellow patch that's not likely to be a major issue, especially if it's one of the older leaves near the bottom. There's a good chance that leaf will continue to yellow and drop.

A cut on the end of the leaf indicates mechanical damage, probably during shipping, which is fairly common; again, this is not an issue. Once the plant has sealed off the cut (which it has probably done already) there's nothing to worry about, it's just a scar.

So there's no need to take the plant back to the florist, neither of these means it's unhealthy. I recommend following my Phalaenopsis orchid care instructions to keep it healthy; if you have any more questions let me know!

Jun 04, 2014
Orchid lover-alicekelly4114@yahoo.com
by: Mary

It has been years since I have had orchids. I have started buying them again. A knowledgeable friend in Florida taught me if you have to cut back an orchid or if their is a cut on it to put regular , inexpensive , kitchen cinnamon on the the stem or cut area. This helps them heal and it works beautifully.
Also, make sure cutting tools are sterilized between orchids to prevent potential diseases from spreading. These can be boiled in water or in dishwasher.

Jun 29, 2014
Very good info resource
by: Anonymous

I knew Cable dispenses good advice when I read his opinion on watering with ice cubes... I agree - it's not the preferred method.

Orchids take time to grow, require a lot of patience and with the proper care will reward you with some very spectacular flowers.

Jul 02, 2014
Ice cube method
by: Ilopatin

I have heard, but I don't know whether it is true, that the ice cube method was promulgated by a famous doyenne of home style, as the best way yo water pleruthallids. This makes sense, because many Pleurothallids are cool growers, and this is a way to cool the roots. (When it comes to temp requirements, they are most important for the roots.) since many orchids survive this treatment in the short run, it proves that orchids would rather have chilled roots than be overwatered.

I will put ice cubes in cymbidium pots during hot weather, but this is to cool the roots, not water the plants.

Jul 08, 2014
ice cube watering NEW
by: Anonymous

I use a few ice cubes once a week and it's been working well for a year now. However, I live in New Orleans. It's designated sub-tropical, we're below sea level and it's a very humid environment .
My mother grew Orchids for years, but it was up in wisconsin in a much dryer cooler climate. She went to lengths to ensure proper moisture in the atmosphere and I never heard anything about an ice cube from her.
When considering ice cube watering, I think you have to think outside the cube!

Aug 29, 2014
watering NEW
by: rick

Do you still water orchids after he flowers have all dropped

Sep 02, 2014
Watering orchids after they stop blooming NEW
by: Anonymous

By all means, you continue to water them. They are live plants and need water and fertilizer, especially if they are growing in bark medium as it provides no nourishment. No moss stuff, please. It's not healthy for them as it can stay too wet and cause the roots to die. I fertilize with orchid fertilizer at 1/2 strength weekly. I mist the leaves every day. When our temps start to drop in early winter (between 50-60F), they will start growing new flower spikes for next year, fertilize with high middle number orchid fertilizer. Hopefully, when spring comes and temps start rising, you will have new spikes ready to bloom.

Dec 17, 2014
When purchasing an orchid - NEW
by: Anonymous

NEVER! buy an orchid that has no buds (flowers yet to bloom. You can't tell how old the existing flowers are and you may find they'll die within a day or two after purchase.

DON'T! buy an orchid that has flowers that are wilting or have wilted and not fallen off.
If the flower stem shows most or some of the flowers have died don't buy it.
It won't be long before the rest of the blooms will fade. The odds the same bloom spike will reflower are very low.

DON'T buy an orchid that has discolored, drooping or deeply veined leaves. Orchids that are raised by a good greenhouse should be in good condition and a good retailer should be able to maintain them until they're sold.

DON'T buy an orchid that's been marked down. They're usually failing and are a mistake to take home. It's sad to fall in love with a plant that's suffering - and really hard to revive one.

Try to buy orchids that have identification labels that tell you the type and it's genus within the species.
It's a great indication it was grown by a reputable grower.
Orchids with no identification are called noids, which means "No I.D."

Don't rely on the "How to care for" instructions that come with the plant, they are too general and usually have too little information. Just because a store sells orchids doesn't mean you can trust their advice...

Join a group or website of fellow orchid growers and ask for advice. It's the best way to go...

May 20, 2015
Good post NEW
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Jul 20, 2015
repotting NEW
by: Anonymous

How do I know when it is time to repot?

Jul 22, 2015
Cattleya NEW
by: Laura

My baby cattleya orchids got white root but black at the end

Jul 27, 2015
Just Leaves NEW
by: Anonymous

I have leaves left on my orchid plant after the plant died and I cut the stem down. The leaves are strong, green and healthy, but I have no stem or flowers, just leaves. Will a new stem grow eventually or am I stuck with leaves and no stem/flowers at this point forward.

Oct 17, 2015
Repotting NEW
by: Maria

My orchid needs repotting. The roots are growing outside the pot. My question is, What to I do with all of these roots, do I cut them off? Do I try to insert them into the new, bigger pot? Do I trim them back (some a quite long). I have inherited two lovely orchids from my mother in law,and I want to keep them thriving, but I am a little unsure as to how to repot. Thanks

Dec 02, 2015
flowers Watering NEW
by: Horen Halley

I subscribe your post, but ice cube option is not good for orchid flowers. Please share some solid best idea, How to protect the flowers?
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Mar 06, 2016
repotting NEW
by: Anonymous

do they need to be repotted or just leave them alone? I use the 3 ice cubes per week and my has rebloomed twice in less than a year.

May 08, 2016
exposing orchids to rain NEW
by: floro

Shall i need not to expose my orchids to rain because rainy season is coming over in our country?

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