Orchids used to be very expensive and certainly not readily available at grocery stores or garden centers. Today, blooming orchids are a commodity and they can be found about anywhere, including check out counters.
A big break in terms of care for a guilt-relief plant comes from Green Circle Growers in Ohio, with the introduction of Just Add Ice Phalaenopsis orchids. I can hear the orchidists gasp: “What?” I know. You’d never do that.
GardenComm members toured the company a few years ago, and yes, questions about freezing roots came up. The company, which is the largest orchid grower in the country, had the science to back up its brand. Studies at Ohio State University and University of Georgia had two orchid plant groups, one that got three ice cubes and one that got the equivalent in tap water.
Scientists found the temperature of the potting media did get lower, but not by much. The average media temperature (mostly bark) after watering was 68.36F and 70.34F). Ice cube irrigation resulted in a low media temperature of 56.8F. Media temperatures returned to pre-treatment temperatures five hours after the ice application. Of course, you don’t want to put the ice cubes on the plant’s air roots.
Be sure to pass along the no guilt pledge for this and other plants: If it dies, it dies. You had it. You enjoyed it. The plant earned its keep. Get another one.