When you purchase a Just Add Ice Orchid, you receive an instruction card directing you to water your new Phalaenopsis orchid by adding just three ice cubes to its pot once a week. Most new Just Add Ice Orchid owners are surprised. They can’t believe that their new orchid plant will thrive on such a small amount of water. Seasoned gardeners and experienced houseplant owners are used to watering plants more frequently. Many gardeners tend to think that if a little water is good for a plant then a lot of water will be even better. When applied to Phalaenopsis orchids, this commonly-held philosophy can be disastrous.
The No. 1 cause of Phalaenopsis orchid failure is over-watering.
An Orchid’s Natural Habitat
Phalaenopsis orchids are tropical plants that might make you think they require copious amounts of water to survive, but these orchids are also epiphytes. Phalaenopsis orchids do not grow in the rain-soaked ground; they are actually tree-dwellers. In their native habitat, Phalaenopsis orchids stretch toward the light, clinging to tree branches high above the dark, crowded jungle floor. Their thick, green leaves and fleshy roots absorb the water the plant needs from the humidity in the air.
If you examine your Just Add Ice Orchid, you’ll notice that it is not planted in typical potting soil. Soil retains too much water to be used with Phalaenopsis orchids. If planted in a standard potting mix, the roots of the orchid would constantly be surrounded by wet soil and would eventually rot. Just Add Ice Orchids require a potting medium that drains quickly, allowing the plant to absorb moisture gradually without drowning the roots. Phalaenopsis orchids are potted in tree bark, sphagnum moss, peat moss, osmunda fiber and other loose and airy materials that provide proper drainage. Using the Just Add Ice method to water your orchid plant allows the roots to absorb the moisture they need gradually.