Here's Why You Should Use The Ice Cube Method With Your Houseplants

Various House Plants
Photo: sagarmanis/Getty Images

After researching, planting, feeding, and diligently watering your new plants you can still come home to find each and every one wilted over. It's alright, having a green thumb is a truly rare quality to possess. But there is one trick taking over social media that you can use to help improve your plant's chances: ice cubes.

Why Water With Ice Cubes?

As Reader's Digest reported, one of the main reasons many people fail to keep their houseplants alive is because they tend to over-care for them by watering them too often. This helicopter plant parenting can cause root rot, a fungus that grows on roots and kills your plant quickly.

So, to avoid overwatering all you need to do is take a more measured approach.

According to Reader's Digest, all it takes is placing two large ice cubes or several small ice cubes at the base of your plant once a week to keep them happy and hydrated. This way the plant gets to suck up all that H₂O slowly, but surely. Moreover, this will also help stave off any messy watering overflow that may occur.

Does The Ice Cube Trick Work For Orchids?

This trick rings especially true for moth orchids. As Amanda Gutterman wrote over on The Gardenista, "most orchids drown to death. Though the orchid is native to the tropics, its roots need to be well drained so no water pools at the bottom of the orchid pot. For this reason, some orchid devotees un-pot the plants to water them in the shower. Un-potting seemed too risky to me. I err on the conservative side and water with ice cubes once a week."

Gutterman, a true ice cube watering devotee, then explained just how much of a difference this watering technique can make.

"Months passed. The marbled pink-and-white petals had grown fuller than ever so that each flower was nearly the size of my hand," she said. "Their weight made them lean over voluptuously on their stakes. The leaves, which I sometimes polish, were thick and glossy enough to reflect the sunlight."

And she's not alone. People all over social media are showing off the fruits of their plant farming labor with the hashtag #IceCubeOrchid.

Of course, some believe this watering method is just too good to be true and caution that though the ice cube mimics the amount of water an orchid received in a greenhouse, it will die from being ramped in suboptimal conditions over time. The best solution is to instead regularly water after repotting the orchid in a proper mix in a well-draining pot.

Tips For Watering With Ice Cubes

While two cubes a week might seem like just what the doctor ordered, experts say it's important not to be too prescriptive if you want to keep your houseplants healthy. Watering can be a tricky business, especially when it comes to succulents, epiphytes, and other popular houseplants. For instance, in a low-light situation, two cubes could be exactly what your plant needs. But if your houseplant is situated in a window or a very bright room, you might want to up the number of cubes. The season can also make a difference—because of lower light levels, many houseplants appreciate a bit less water in winter.

Many houseplants are susceptible to cold damage as well. Make certain that any cubes you add to the pot do not touch stems, leaves, or roots.

Still, the ice cube method has enough devotees on social media that if you're having a hard time keeping your plants alive it may be a life hack worth testing out.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles