I’m all about finding the simplest, yet most effective ways to do things around the house.
That’s why I love this method of watering my house plants. It’s much easier than trying to pour water into each plant without spilling any water or making a mess. Wanna know my trick…?
Use ice cubes! I simply drop a few ice cubes into the pot of a droopy plant; no fuss, no mess. The cubes gradually melt, slowly watering the plant as they go.
Reasons to Water With Ice Cubes
If you’re new to raising houseplants, there’s no better way to water them than with ice cubes. After all, one of the most common reasons that houseplants die is because of overwatering. Not knowing how much water to add – or when – can be the kiss of death for a plant.
Especially with plants like orchids, that are prone to root rot, avoiding overwatering is essential. There are some orchid greenhouse companies that specifically instruct owners to water with ice cubes – for this very reason!
Watering with ice cubes makes it very easy for you to allot the correct amount of water so you don’t drown the roots by mistake. This way, the plants will stay happy and healthy – and hydrated! – but without sucking up all that water at once.
As I mentioned in my introduction, watering with ice cubes can also reduce a lot of the mess that is associated with watering indoor houseplants. That’s beneficial for a couple reasons.
The first is obvious – less mess for you to clean up! But the second benefit is that the dirty water won’t be splashing back up on your plants.
While you probably don’t plan to eat your houseplants, if you are growing edible ornamentals indoors, it can be a real hassle to have to wash all that dirt off your plants before eating.
Even if you don’t plan on eating your plant, the dirt can attract bugs and make it more likely for the plant to fall victim to disease. The ice cube watering hack eliminates all of those concerns!
How to Water With Ice Cubes
Here’s a more detailed overview of how to water with ice cubes.
First, put a shallow pan or tray under your plant’s container. Put one to three ice cubes on the soil. If you have a super large container, you can use more. You only need to put out ice cubes once a week, but let the cubes melt entirely.
To tell if it’s time to water again, stick your index finger a couple of inches into the soil. If it’s moist, the plant is adequately watered. If it feels dry, you should add another ice cube.
Check the soil moisture each time before you water to make sure you aren’t overwatering.
Another way to tell if you are overwatering? Check the tray beneath the container.
If there is water pooling immediately, you probably have too many ice cubes. Keep track of how many ice cubes you put inside the container, as you may need to decrease or increase the amount you use.
Remember that the number may not stay the same over time – you may have to add or remove ice cubes as you move the plant outside, it grows, or the seasons change.
Problems of Watering With Ice Cubes
As with anything, the ice cube watering method is not without its critics! There are some people who argue that plants that are grown in containers with proper drainage holes are better off being given a thorough soaking with water every once in a while, as it will create humidity in the pot as the water evaporates.
Some people, too, argue that icy water can shock the roots of tropical plants, which can cause damage or even root problems. It’s important to note that, for this technique to work, you need to place the ice cubes as far away from the roots of the plant as possible – ideally, near the perimeter of the container.
You also should avoid using a glass of ice water. This isn’t the same as using ice cubes. The water will be more quickly absorbed by the soil and can shock the plants with the rapid temperature change. Ice melts very slowly, so the melted water will have warmed up to room temperature before it gets to the roots.
Instead, watering with ice cubes mimics the slow drip of water that tropical plants get when water slowly trickles down from the treetops after a rainstorm. The slow melt and drip effect is just what the doctor ordered!
Be careful when using this trick on tropical plants regardless. Although it usually works just fine, you’ll want to watch your plants closely to make sure they react favorably. Some critics of the ice cube watering method claim that it can stunt your plant’s growth and induce dormancy in sensitive plants.
Watch out for signs like flaccid, wrinkled leaves or those that have turned a dull silvery color. Foliage that is well-watered will be firm and green, in most cases.
There’s really no straight answer on this, so in all likelihood, it depends on the environment in your home and what kind of plants you are growing. There’s no harm in giving it a try!
So what do you think? Could the ice cube watering trick work for you? Give it a go!
updated 05/04/2020 by Rebekah Pierce