Miniature orchid watering directions look odd

rosebuddy(z5Ont)March 16, 2013

Just bought a miniature orchid which is new to me. Flowers are not quite open but it does look like a Cymbidium from what I can gather from a book. The directions say to water with 1 ice cube once a week, equivalent to 1.5 Tbsp of water. What the frig does that mean? Am I to place an ice cube on the potting surface to melt, or melt it and then water? Anyone out there know about this and why an ice cube is mentioned?

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The company plan is: They intentionally tell you to to use an ice cube in order to put the plant out of it's poor pot and soil misery At the same time you assume you had done something wrong and toss it out.

Sad thing is the company and it's reps make claims that suggest It's the experienced orchid growers whom are the ones that don't know how to grow orchids.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 10:32PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Perhaps you could make good recommendations about watering techniques that would be helpful.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 5:31AM
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Hello Wes and Rhizo:-))))

The ice cube technique may or may not be the best method, but better than what the average in experienced orchid grower can do when it comes to watering next to over watering and fertilizer or salt burn.

You see, most people water an orchid just like an ordinary houseplant. They pour water on the roots for a few seconds until it drains out and that is it.
Orchid roots need at least a few minutes of watering with tepid or warm water in order for the roots to take up water while they hydrate or get plump again.
If the roots are not plump after a watering, then you are not watering long enough and your orchid will eventually desiccate and die.

The ice cube method allows a continual drop of water over an hour or so to full hydrate the roots. Better than just a simple glance watering although I am not sure if it's the best method since deposited salts in most tap water can eventually eat away at the roots in which a flushing can resolve. Besides, how will you fertilize this way, another requirement for healthy orchids?

What I do is take them to the sink and soak them in warm water for about 5 minutes until the roots plump up or water with a mist mimicking a rain storm.
Mines thrive with this method.


This post was edited by meyermike_1micha on Sun, Mar 17, 13 at 12:46

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 8:13AM
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It's a gimmick. I had a friend use this method although I advised against it. She was adamant it would work well 'cuz it said so on the label. She lost the plants. You were wise to question the instructions.

I'd use Mike's method of taking it to the sink.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 9:50AM
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Thanks for the replies! It's such a tiny plant I would have to have the ice cube sitting right on top of leaves which doesn't sound good. Also Mike prefers warm or tepid water so would the ice water not be too cold? When you say you soak them for 5 minutes, do you mean water from the bottom up or do you submerge the whole pot in water. Right now the plant is in a clear plastic pot which has a drainage hole and that pot is in another clay pot with no drainage. I will take it out of the clay pot to water, but do you think there will be enough drainage if I keep it in the plastic pot. I'm thinking of the orchid pots I see which have holes all along the sides. I think that's all my questions for now. Thanks

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 9:52AM
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Good Morning, Rosebuddy, Mr.Like, Rhizo, Mike, and Monet,

In all the years I've bought plants, 'and there were many,' I've never seen instructions that suggested watering w/an ice cube! How strange!

Rosebuddy, do you happen to know the name of the nursery? Name should be on the tag.
I'd write to the company, ask why they recommend watering with cubes. Then explain Orchids should not be be watered with ice or cold water. Roots can freeze, then rot.

To be honest, in summer, our house gets hot. At times, temps were 100F. For years we were without a/c.
Every so often, I'd toss ice cubes on soil of certain plants. Never Orchids, though.
I'm not suggestion anyone place cubes on soil...

The reason they recommend ice cubes is, cubes are chlorine-free.
What the company doesn't realize, or want to elaborate is cubes will/can freeze roots.
(Maybe the nursery intenionally suggests watering w/cubes so the plant dies..the buyer will then run out and buy another.) :)
I've read about ice cube watering in plant books.

Follow Mike's instructions. Toni

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 12:42PM
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Hello Toni! It's so good to see you back and feeling better. Nice:-)

My sister and my friend actually use the ice cube method and they have had more success with their orchids than if they had been watering the old way, treating them like a houseplant, and they are in bloom.
Although neither of them water the way I do or try to mimick their environment when it comes to a good rain, their orchids are still better off than just a quick watering in which the water just runs past the roots.

How long their plants will flourish this way is yet to be seen, but now they want to fertilize them and asked me how too since the leaves on theirs are not quite up to par.

Rose I do both. I submerge many of mine and others I will sit in a pot of warm water covering the top of the pots until I see the roots green or plump up again.
My guess would be that an ice cube sitting at room temp that sits on bark, not on the roots would not drop freezing water onto the roots, but maybe room temperature water drops? Not sure.

One thing is true of most orchids is that they like a thorough watering followed by quickly dried roots.

Most orchids grow from trees and crevices which allows good air flow to the roots after a drenching or misty rain.
If it was my orchid, I would dump the holess pot for one that allows plenty of air movement and much needed oxygen between the roots.

Do something for me.?

Soak that clear plastic pot once the roots have dried in warm water for about 5 minutes and tell me what happens to the roots on the inside. What do they look like?
That's why many sell clear pots, so you can see what is going on with them while the roots actually grab sunlight as needed on many orchids.


This post was edited by meyermike_1micha on Sun, Mar 17, 13 at 13:26

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 1:19PM
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Hi Mike...Oh, I come and go. :)
You know how winter effects/affects me!

I wanted to ask what you meant by 'plump roots.'
My Orchids were watered yesterday, so I'll have to wait until their next watering to see if roots thicken/expand.
Most are in clear plastic, so roots will be able to see.
I'm as curious as a cat.

Mike, you know how it goes with plants. People care for greens the way they see fit and the whichever way works best. Toni

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 1:43PM
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Toni......Meow! lol

I have a few pics to take for you:-)

I know how you feel. But just think..The sun is getting much hotter now, the greenhouse you have a a great women cave for you, and the air will finally match both before we know it, or at least I hope.

I think Dori will be very happy to see you back since she has been asking about you these days. She is so thoughtful to do so.

Many hugs!


    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 2:52PM
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Hi Toni,

I am glad to see you back too. I have SADS or winter depression also. It's a bear for sure. We are close to the equinox now which means the days are getting longer faster. Daylight Savings time also helps me a lot.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 4:34PM
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LOL Rhizo They can use room temp water and mist it for a few seconds or a few minutes every day if they want or they can set it in a secondary water tank for several minutes or several hours.
I am no fool at GW forum posting either even yourself could have made a watering suggestion and someone else can suggest anouther in a more specific manner as well.

Point being is the orchid mentioned doesn't require ice to melt into it's pot to meet the particular plant watering needs.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 6:11PM
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