Houseplant experts on how to water orchids – avoid ice cube method

Plant rescuer Sarah Gerrard-Jones shares tips caring for orchids

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Moth orchids, the most popular type of orchid, is the one commonly found in UK homes. They are native to southeastern Asia and parts of Australia, meaning they love humidity. One expert has shared top watering tips, including whether or not owners should use the trending ice cube watering method to hydrate their houseplants.

One popular watering method often seen circulating on social media is using ice cubes to water orchids. The idea is that instead of drenching the soil with water and overwatering the plant, an ice cube gradually melts, releasing water into the plant.

However, according to one expert, this could actually “damage” the orchids because they can be sensitive. Samantha Jones, gardening expert at, told “Although watering an orchid with an ice cube shouldn’t harm your plant, it can damage the stem and leaves.

“So, this is not fool-proof watering. Watering an orchid is actually simple when you see the roots. That’s why orchids are supplied in clear pots. If the roots look silvery, you can water it.”

However, if the roots look green, it doesn’t need watering just yet. Overwatering is a common issue when it comes to houseplants, especially during the winter months when plants need less water than other times of the year.

The expert added: “Bring [the water] up to room temperature first. It’s best to water the plant in a sink or bath to let excess water drain out of the pot afterwards, preventing water logging.” 

Orchid owners should also try to use rainwater or distilled water where possible, as the majority of houseplants are sensitive to tap water. If you do want to use tap water, leave it in a watering can overnight to warm up as well as let the minerals dissipate. 

Most houseplant owners will stick to a routine when it comes to watering indoor plants, whether that’s once a week or once a fortnight. However, another expert said houseplant owners should use their “senses and instinct” rather than a method or routine.

This is important during the summer months when houseplants will be more thirsty. Natalie Devereux, product specialist at Serenata Flowers, told “Watering orchids with ice cubes is a controversial topic amongst growers.

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“People for this method believe that it simplifies the watering routine, making it easier for beginners and prevent overwatering. But, plants, much like humans, have different watering needs depending on external factors.

“We always recommended you use your senses and instinct rather than a method or routine.” The expert added that watering with ice cubes could shock the plant, and end up killing tissue as well as stunting growth over time.

If you are unsure on how much water to give a plant, or are worried about overwatering it, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), recommended misting the leaves “regularly”.

Misting gives the plant more humidity but does not create a soggy root environment. This isn’t a job which needs to be done every single day during the winter months, but a few times a week can definitely be beneficial.

Moth orchids can be repotted at any time of year, but after flowering is best to avoid shock. Signs your plant needs a new home include roots growing out of the bottom of its current home.

The gardening pro explained: “If you’re repotting your orchid into a specialist orchid pot, it’s likely to be made from clear plastic and will have slotted holes around the sides or at the bottom. Although it’s tempting to pop this in a decorative planter to make it look pretty, you may block the airflow from these holes.

“If you want it to look aesthetically pleasing, you can place it in a small slotted wooden crate or basket instead. 

“Line the bottom with pebbles to maximise airflow and drainage. Only repot your orchid when it is not flowering and be careful not to break the roots.”

Another houseplant which is sensitive to tap water is the peace lily. Watering a peace lily with tap water could cause brown leaf tips due to the chemicals found in it such as fluoride.

In hard water areas, magnesium and calcium may be present which could be harmful to this sensitive plant. Experts at Hammonds Furniture added: “Your peace lily should be watered weekly, but make sure to check that the soil is dry before you water.

“If your peace lily is wilting, you most likely need to water the plant as this is a sign of dehydration.

“However, if the plant is drooping and its leaves are yellow, hold back on the watering as your plant has been overwatered and needs a break.”

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