Can You Water a Money Tree With Only Ice Cubes?

The money tree plant is a popular houseplant believed to bring luck and prosperity to the home. Originally cultivated in East Asia, this tropical tree prefers warm, moisture-rich climates. While it is a very hardy tree, it needs high humidity to thrive. 

You cannot water a money tree efficiently with only ice cubes as they provide shallow and insufficient hydration. Instead, water your money tree thoroughly with room-temperature water. Allow the soil to dry between waterings, and mist the leaves when they feel dry.

This article will explore the effects of only using ice cubes to water your money tree and how to care for your money tree properly. It will also discuss what to look for if you’re using ice cubes to water your plants, so read on to learn more about caring for your money tree. 

Problems with Using Ice Cubes to Water a Money Tree

The idea of using ice cubes to water plants likely originated with orchids, with multiple blogs and orchid sellers recommending ice as a good way to avoid overwatering plants.   

Overwatering is one of the most common reasons for the death of houseplants. In fact, all plants can die from overwatering, including your lawn.

Skeptics naturally question the efficacy of using ice cubes for tropical plants. A study by Ohio State University experimented with using only ice to irrigate orchids, suggesting that no orchids were harmed when irrigated with ice. However, orchids and money trees are very different plants. 

Orchids grow in very little soil, which makes it extremely easy to overwater them. In contrast, money trees grow tall with a root system that’s firmly embedded in the soil. This makes it harder to overwater them. 

You need a significant amount of ice to water a money tree effectively, so it will likely end up underwatered instead of overwatered. 

While you might be able to use only ice cubes to water delicate plants like orchids, other plants won’t do as well, especially if they’re grown in pots with good drainage. 

Here are some common problems from watering money trees with ice cubes:

Dehydration

Underwatering is a common cause of the death of household plants. Unfortunately, the symptoms of underwatering and overwatering are similar, so it can be difficult to identify which of the two is the real reason. However, watering your plant with only ice cubes is more likely to result in underwatering and dehydration than overwatering.

Shallow Root Systems

Ice melts slowly, providing limited moisture to the surface of the soil. The water won’t penetrate as deep as it should, so the plants grow shallow roots. Since larger plants need stronger roots, this can be dangerous for a plant as large as the money tree, which can grow over 6 feet (1.8 m) tall, even as a houseplant.

Wilting, Burning, and Leaf Loss

The immediate effects of dehydration are wilting and burn spots on the leaves. The leaves will also feel dry to the touch, as opposed to overhydration, where the leaves might feel squishy instead. Humidity-loving plants like the money tree may also drop leaves when underwatered. 

Cold Injury

Tropical plants are sensitive to the cold, including orchids. Applying ice directly to the roots or stems of tropical plants can result in chilling or freezing injuries that affect the cells of the plants. The cells of the plant freeze, leading to cell and plant death

Poor Health Due to Incorrect Conditions

The money tree is adapted to tropical climates where heavy rains are broken up with bouts of heat that dry the soil quickly. Only watering money trees with ice will cause poor health, as the tree will struggle to survive in conditions completely different from its typical habitat. 

Proper Watering and Care

The best way to look after your money tree is to replicate the conditions of its natural habitat as closely as possible. While the tree is fairly hardy and will survive most conditions, especially drought, it will thrive when it is cared for and watered correctly. 

Temperature and Humidity

Native to tropical forests, money trees thrive in warm climates and should always be kept away from frost or ice. The roots of money trees tend to store more water than most plants and will react very poorly to any kind of cold snap. 

The ideal temperature for a money tree is around 68 °F (20 °C). The plant can handle temperatures as low as 41 °F (5 °C), but it is advisable to keep the lower end of the temperature range at about 54 °F (12 °C). 

Money trees prefer high humidity levels and will drop leaves in drier weather like winter. Regular leaf misting in drier weather can help, especially when using collected rainwater. You can also treat your tap water to make it more suitable for your plants.

Keep the humidity levels around your money tree at about 50% by placing it near a humidifier or misting the leaves. You can also increase the relative humidity around the tree by letting the water evaporate from a shallow pan filled with pebbles or gravel. 

Watering Schedule and Technique

The watering schedule for your money tree will vary depending on the weather and the amount of sunlight it receives. If your plant is exposed to heat, the soil will dry faster. You’ll need to water your money tree more frequently in this situation. 

Avoid trying to stick to a set watering schedule. Instead, rely on gauging how dry the soil is and watering your money tree whenever it needs more water. Since these trees are hardy and store water in their roots, they can go a while without needing to be watered. 

You can wait for the soil to be almost completely dry before you water your money tree, but don’t let it get so dry that the soil becomes powdery. 

To mimic the natural habitat of the money tree, you’ll have to drench the soil completely. Water the plant deeply to simulate the heavy rain showers of a tropical forest. However, you should ensure that the soil drains well and the pot has good drainage, or you’ll end up with water stagnation and root rot.

Watering deeply also allows the water to penetrate and reach the lower levels of the soil, where the fragile root hairs can absorb the water easily.

Let the soil dry halfway down the pot before watering again. Depending on the weather conditions and the size of your tree, this could take anywhere between 2-3 weeks

How to Water Your Money Tree With Ice Cubes

If you want to use ice cubes to water your money tree, you can do so, but do it to supplement the moisture requirements of the tree instead of using it as the main source of water. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Raise Ambient Humidity Using Ice

Instead of setting a shallow plate of water out, you can raise the humidity around your money tree by setting some ice out to melt slowly. This will also help maintain steady temperatures and humidity in hot, dry places. 

Place Them on the Soil Only

Never place ice cubes on any part of the plant. The money tree is sensitive to chilling injury. Always place the ice away from the plant tissue on the soil. 

Use Cubes in Between Waterings

Use ice cubes to supplement your watering, especially if you’ll be out of town longer than the next potential watering. They’ll keep your plant hydrated while you’re gone without drowning the roots. Still, if you’re going to be away for an extended period, you should find an alternative.

Sunlight Requirements

Typically, the money tree does well in bright, indirect sunlight, like many plants native to tropical forests. The tall and thick foliage of trees in tropical forests ensures that sunlight is always filtered through a canopy, which is why most tropicals prefer indirect sunlight. 

If it’s an indoor plant, ensure it’s near a window. You can reduce the intensity of the sunlight by hanging a sheer curtain in front of the window as a screen. Rotate the pot often to distribute the sunlight received by your plant. You can rotate the pot by 45-90° every week.

Final Thoughts

You can’t water a money tree with only ice cubes as it thrives on deep watering with slightly dry periods in between. The tree is also sensitive to frost, so using ice directly on its tissues may cause injury and necrosis. 

Only use ice to supplement the watering schedule and raise ambient humidity in hot and dry regions if necessary.

Dr. Moritz Picot

Dr. Moritz Picot is a horticulture enthusiast and the founder of TheGrowingLeaf.com, where he serves as the lead content writer. He established the website in 2022 as a valuable resource for both gardening aficionados and beginners, compiling all the gardening tips he has accumulated over the past 25 years. Alex has a passion for nurturing plants, transforming backyards into inviting spaces, and sharing his knowledge with the world.

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