Icy confessions



Few people know that I am a reformed serial killer.



While posing as a mild-mannered wife and mother, I regularly tortured and murdered plants, then buried the evidence. I can’t blame any childhood trauma. My mother had a green thumb, not gangrenous green, but more of a pale, pale sea green. I believe it was on her right hand. I never saw her harm a plant.



I regularly checked my thumbs when I was growing up, wondering if one of them would turn green. It never happened. In spite of that, I was drawn to plants. In my free time I wandered into adult garden shops and stalked plants. Most of the patrons, like my mother, had green thumbs. Invariably I wore gloves. In the winter I used the excuse of the cold; in the summer, I lied and said I suffered from scabies. I always chose a healthy, green plant. After I brought it home, I would whisper promises to it of a happy, fruitful life in my care. I always tried to make it comfortable before I killed it. I couldn’t help myself.



A few years ago, one of my daughters got a potted orchid plant as a gift. The uninitiated call it a Moth orchid; scientists, who use Latin like a secret handshake, call it Phalaenopsis; and orchid growers often shorten that to Phal (rhymes with “pal” but with an “f” sound).



When my daughter got her own apartment, she left the plant in my care. Somehow it has survived, and not only survived but thrived. All I ever do is give it three ice cubes a week. Yes, ice cubes. On orchids.



Does that make me sound like a cold person? If you are an orchid grower/lover you may be ready to throw potting soil at me. But please don’t get your roots all in a tangle. In spite of what you might think, I am not torturing the plant. Last year after it bloomed for several months, I repotted it, and this year it bloomed again. The plant loves me; it’s my Phal pal. Trust me, it is cool with the ice cubes.


If you go to forums for orchid lovers you will discover that by raising my “deformed overcloned” orchid I am on my way to misinforming 50,000 imaginary readers that using ice cubes on orchids is acceptable behavior. Why? Because I am a blooming idiot, a pawn of orchid sellers, a dupe of Martha Stewart, and a person likely to give boiling water to my imaginary dog and cat. I dug through several forums searching in vain for any mention that I was also a troll, the highest form of disparagement on most forums, but didn’t unearth a single mention.



Real orchid growers don’t think much of people like me, as you can see from the comments below. (Note: No spellings were harmed in the replanting of these comments.)



I would never ever in a million years water them with ice. Although I can see this as a great way to get people to buy them and then subsequently kill them so they buy more.


Now that I’ve done some research it seems like the whole ice idea is a crock and actually harmful for my phal.


Yes, that is the single worst piece of cultural advice I’ve ever heard, and unfortunately it is well entrenched ‘common wisdom’. I think it is Martha Stewart’s fault, and she should be locked up again if only for that.


Thank goodness that this absurd advice is not seen on tags here in Europe. They write other idiot things, but not that bad.


…these phals will look like deformed overcloned throw-aways. I am always rather disgusted when I see them. I’m not even tempted to buy.


My answer is always ” Tell me… is there any ice dropping from the skys in the jungle where they grow?!


…the double unfortunate thing is that is does work for a few people in certain circumstances ( esp here in hot FL ) and they tell 50,000 other people who believe them…


You wouldn’t give your dog or cat boiling water would you? Then don’t give your tropical plants ice!


I don’t hold hard feelings against these people. Just as there is more than one way to skin a cat or boil a dog, there is more than one way to raise an orchid. Ice works for me and mine.


Since I started caring for the orchid, my husband has bought several plants for me. All are doing well. And in the early morning light, when I squench my eyes, and right before I glance away, my right thumb looks pale, pale green. I feel like I’ve turned over a new leaf.