Here at Max & Miles, we believe plants have personality just like people. And we also believe in tossing ice cubes at tropical plants. Okay, that was a vast exaggeration, but we do recommend watering Max’s Phalaenopsis Orchids with three ice cubes, once a week. It’s a simple practice that makes watering convenient and helps prevent under- or over-watering.

But is it actually safe for orchids?

Research Backs Ice Watering

In a September 2017 study published in HortScience, researchers from the Ohio State University and the University of Georgia compared ice irrigation to traditional water irrigation of orchids and found no difference in orchid display life, flower longevity, leaf yield, and root systems. Watering your orchids with ice has no negative impact on their health.

Ice watering actually showed a benefit over traditional watering in one key aspect: water uptake. The slow melt of ice allows orchid roots to absorb water slowly and efficiently, while room temperature water results in more leachate (water that runs through the bark and pools in the bottom of the pot). Excess leachate can lead to root rot and other root damage, so ice is the clear winner on this front. This slow melting and uptake mimics the way orchids in tropical climates take in their water, catching it as it drips from tree canopies above.

Is Ice Watering Safe for Orchids?

Yes! This research study also explored temperature to determine if the use of ice caused any damage to roots or leaves. Ice placed on the orchid at room temperature does get a little chilly, down to 11℉, but this temperature did not damage roots or leaves. Roots did not show damage until exposed to temperatures of -7℉, which is not going to happen with ice cubes in your home.

Critics of the ice watering method believe that ice will damage the roots of orchids because they are tropical plants. However, the roots are one of the main reasons ice does work so well! Orchid roots are naturally insulated, with a unique three-layered structure. The outer layer is spongy to insulate against temperature extremes, whether those extremes are heat and humidity in the tropics or the chill of an ice cube in your living room.

The Benefits of Ice Watering

The ice watering method started as a way to conveniently water Phalaenopsis orchids without worrying about over- or under-watering. All you need to do is set a weekly reminder and add three ice cubes to your orchid’s pot once a week. It really is that simple!

Ice Watering Other Plants

Other plants in the Max collection have ice watering recommendations, and we’ve found through our own trials and consumer feedback that ice watering is just as effective and safe for Bonsais, Money Trees, and Anthuriums. While we don’t have a scientific study to back up each of these plants, we wouldn’t steer you wrong!

We can’t wait to see your new assortment of ice-watering plants at home, whether you choose an orchid or one of our other beautiful plants from Max’s collection.