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 NEW
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?

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