How Many Ice Cubes Do You Need To Water Plants?

You’ve likely come across numerous claims online regarding the effectiveness of using ice cubes to water your houseplants. However, you can’t simply place a few cubes in your plant pots – different plants have different watering requirements, and many plants may not even like ice-cold water. If you want to try ice cubes on your plants, you first need to know how many pieces to use. 

You need two pieces of ice cubes, each measuring 2 inches high, 2 inches long, and 2 inches wide (5x5x5 cm), to water a plant in a pot 6-10 inches (15-25 cm) wide and 10 inches (25 cm) deep. The frequency and the number of ice cubes will vary depending on the type of plant and the weather.

It can be challenging to know which plants would appreciate ice cubes in lieu of tepid water. Read on if you’re one curious gardener eager to try using ice cubes on your plants. This article will discuss how to use ice cubes on plants, the pros and cons of this method, and which plants can and cannot benefit from it.

How To Use Ice Cubes To Water Plants

While using ice cubes may seem alarming to many experienced gardeners, there are some environmental conditions that make this method preferable. Here’s how to use ice cubes to water your plants:

  1. Use two pieces of ice cubes for each pot. Two pieces of large ice cubes per week should suffice when the environmental temperature is between 16-25°C (61-77°F). For larger pots over 10 inches (25.4 cm) in diameter, you may need to add one more ice cube for every 2-inch (5-cm) increase in size.
  2. Keep the ice cubes away from the stem. When using ice cubes to water plants, it’s important to keep the cubes away from the plant. The cold from the ice mimics the fall or winter season. It may trigger the untimely dormancy of the plant. 
  3. Put the cubes on the soil near the edges of the pot. The ice water will warm up as it travels through the soil towards the plant’s roots. Chemical reactions in the soil can somehow contribute to increasing the water temperature to make it suitable for absorption.
  4. Prevent contact between the ice cubes and the leaves. Many plants have leaves that are sensitive to moisture or the cold. Letting the leaves touch the ice cubes can result in irreversible leaf spots or discoloration in water and moisture-sensitive plants like African violets.
  5. Check the condition of the leaves. The main reason for using ice cubes on plants is to avoid lack of or excess water. However, some plants may not absorb cold water, resulting in under-watering. Sometimes, the ice melts too quickly, resulting in over-watering. Check the leaves for browning, yellowing, drooping, or drying. These signs will tell you whether or not your plants have watering problems.
  6. Observe how quickly the ice melts. Warmer temperatures will cause the ice to melt more quickly. Check the soil condition a day after the ice completely melts to see if you need to add more. Use your fingers to dig an inch (2.54 cm) into the soil to check for moisture. If it is dry, you may need to add more ice cubes.

The Benefits of Using Ice Cubes To Water Plants

Many new gardeners love collecting new plants, but lack the skills, time, and knowledge to care for them properly. As a result, they look for easy ways to tend to their young garden. One such gardening hack quickly gaining popularity is the ice cube method.

Its popularity stems from its many benefits, including:

  • Reduced risk for over-watering. The slow melting of the ice cubes provides a low but steady supply of moisture to the soil while protecting the plant from the dangers of over-watering.
  • Neat and regulated water supply. Using ice cubes to water plants also prevents water splashing that could otherwise cause leaf spots on some plants with sensitive leaves. There’s also no need to wait for the water to drain out of the soil.
  • Convenience. Putting ice cubes on the soil is easy and time-efficient. You can simply place them on the soil and forget about it, allowing you to keep your plants properly watered even if you’re spending a few days away from home.

Plants That Can Benefit From Ice Cubes

Although most plants prefer water at room temperature (20-25°C or 68-77°F), there are some plants that have been proven to benefit from water from melting ice cubes, including:

  • Orchids
  • Plants with fibrous root systems

Let’s look at how these plants can benefit from ice cubes in more detail below:


Many proponents of the ice cube method for watering plants got the idea from a Reader’s Digest article that showcased some social media posts on the effectiveness of the method on their orchids. The plants developed nice flowers after receiving hydration from ice cubes.

Orchids are tropical plants that are sensitive and prone to over-watering, making the ice cube method ideal for them as it slowly releases moisture into the substrate. 

However, it is important to understand that there aren’t enough long-term studies to support the use of this technique on orchids. We are yet to find out the long-term effects of using ice cubes on tropical plants like orchids.

Plants With Fibrous Root Systems

Since you have to keep the ice cubes away from the stems and the leaves, the moisture from the melting ice may not reach the roots. Plants with fibrous root systems may benefit from this method because it has more root branches to access the water.

The Disadvantages of Using Ice Cubes To Water Plants

To help you decide whether or not it’s worth trying the ice cube method on your plants, you will also need to understand the disadvantages or risks that come with it.

The Cold Can Prevent Chemical Reactions in the Soil

Although chemical reactions can help generate heat to increase the soil temperature, too much ice water can prevent these chemical reactions from happening. 

Some soil enzymes depend on heat to facilitate or initiate a reaction. The cold from the ice water can deactivate the enzymes, resulting in plants being unable to process or utilize the nutrients in the soil.

The Cold Will Make the Plants Go Dormant

Many flowering plants that grow in countries with four seasons rely on environmental signals, such as temperature, to help them complete their life cycles. 

For instance, during the cold winter, these plants go dormant. This cold period is necessary to help plants prepare for budding and blooming in spring. Some plants may delay their blooming period or even fail to produce flowers without this period.

Melting ice releases cold water into the soil. When the roots feel the cold in the soil, they will signal the rest of the plant about the change in temperature. Constant exposure to the cold will eventually give the plant the impression that it is winter, compelling it to go into dormancy.

Plants That Cannot Benefit From Ice Cubes

You will find many plants can suffer irreversible damage when watered via ice cubes. Here are some plants you should avoid using ice cubes on:

  • Succulents
  • Plants with taproot systems
  • Plant in small pots

Let’s see why below:


These plants cannot absorb the cold water coming from the melting ice. Constant exposure to cold water may result in dehydration for your succulents. Also, contact between the ice and the fleshy leaves of succulents can cause physical damage to the leaves’ surface.

Plants With Taproot Systems

Depending on the water retention capacity and the texture of the soil, plants with taproot systems may not absorb the water coming from the ice cubes. Clay soil, for instance, is not porous enough, limiting the roots’ access to the water. As a result, the plants will suffer from under-watering.

Plants in Small Pots

The limited space in small pots will keep the plants in close contact with the ice cubes. This contact will result in leaf damage. It can also create a false cold climate around the plant, compelling it to go into dormancy. 

Unless the stem is long enough to prevent contact between the leaves and the ice cubes, it is best not to use the ice cube method to water plants in small pots.

Final Thoughts

The standard when using ice cubes to water plants would be to use two large pieces around 2x2x2 inches (5x5x5 cm) in dimension for every pot 6-10 inches (15-25 cm) in diameter and 10 inches (25 cm) deep.

However, it is crucial to understand that not all plants can benefit from this method. Using ice cubes to water plants is an under-researched method. It is best to learn the pros and cons and weigh your options before using ice cubes on your precious plants.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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