Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

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Orchid with Frozen Roots

décembre 2In garden centers and box stores you’ll often see orchids bearing a label suggesting to water them with ice cubes. Just add 3 cubes of ice once a week, they say. This is a great idea… for the merchant who came up with it, because cold water will gradually kill the orchid’s roots, ensuring that the plant will die several months later, even if it seems all right while it blooms. So the home gardener cries victory at first – “I tried it and it works!” – only to be disappointed afterwards. “I don’t know what I’ve done wrong, but my orchid is dead!” Rarely does he associate  the death of the plant with the watering technique.

The “ice orchid” you bought is most likely a Phalaenopsis and it is of tropical origin. Tropical plants, by definition, never have to deal with ice or even cold temperatures. Normally, it should always be watered with tepid water. (Actually, I can’t think of one plant that should be watered with ice water!)

It is interesting to note that the garden centers and box stores that sell these “ice orchids” actually water them with tepid water until they’re sold, never with ice cubes. If you doubt that, go to one of the stores and watch them.

I find it interesting that the same companies that recommend watering their orchids with ice cubes put their orchids in pots without drainage holes, another way guaranteed to kill an orchid… eventually.

What can I say but caveat emptor.

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