orchid watering study background

Orchid Watering Study

study summary

Watering orchids with ice can alleviate the problems associated with overwatering or underwatering. The Ohio State University and the University of Georgia studied the effects of orchid watering with ice compared to the traditional watering method.

They concluded that watering orchids with ice is just as effective as traditional orchid watering and had no negative impact on the plant. Additionally, because orchids take in water more slowly as the ice melts, the ice watering method can allow them to absorb water better.

factors explored in the study

flower longevity


media temperature

media temperature

leachate volume

Leachate volume

leaf yield

leaf yield

root systems

root systems

research conclusions

Ice did not impact flower longevity or display
Flower longevity was determined by monitoring a single flower per spike from the day of opening to the day of wilting. Researchers also studied display life, or the number of days from orchid arrival to the day the last flower wilted. In both sets of orchids, flower longevity and display life were the same.
Ice did not impact leachate volume
Leachate was collected 24 hours after watering once a month. Generally, leachate volume (the amount of water that seeped through the media) was either the same between the two sets of orchids or lower in those watered with ice.
Media temperature returned to normal after 5 hours
The temperature of the media (primarily bark) was monitored with probes following watering. The average media temperature after water irrigation was between 20.2 and 21.3℃. Ice cube irrigation resulted in a low media temperature of 13.6℃. Media temperatures returned to pre-treatment temperatures five hours after ice application.
Ice did not affect leaf yield or root systems
Researchers used a chlorophyll fluorometer to measure quantum yield of leaves and roots once a month. Quantum yield of leaves and roots were not affected. At final harvest, leaves were separated from the roots and visually evaluated for signs of damage. Root systems were visually similar between treatments.
Ohio State Orchid Ice Study

Still Have Questions?

To find out more about the study methodology and results, read the manuscript published in the September 2017 HortScience Journal.