How to Grow and Care for a Peace Lily
Lots of houseplants have lush, green leaves but rarely offer a flower. One exception is the peace lily, which delivers beautiful foliage and abundant white blooms. Known by the botanical name Spathiphyllum — "spath" for short — peace lilies are undemanding plants that excel indoors. The less fuss, the better with these beauties. Provide your peace lily with its basic needs, then sit back and enjoy the rewards.
Peace lily's white sail-like flowers are modified leaves called "spathes."
Understanding Peace Lily Basics
Peace lilies are native to the tropical forests of Central America and Southeast Asia. Unlike climbing monsteras, peace lilies flourish on the forest floor in rich, moist, organic soil under towering plants and trees. Thanks to plant breeders, peace lily varieties span many sizes. When selecting a plant, always check its mature size so it fits your home as it grows.
Some peace lily varieties have broad, extra dark, glossy leaves that grow more than 2 feet long and nearly a foot wide. Others have narrow, emerald green foliage one-fourth that size. Dwarf varieties, such as "petite" peace lilies, grow just 10 inches tall. "Sensation," a mainstay of indoor plantings in office buildings and malls, grows 4 to 6 feet wide and tall. All peace lilies thrive at daytime temperatures of 68 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.1 Avoid drafts from air conditioning or heating ducts.
Given proper care and conditions, peace lilies bloom freely year-round. Their long-lasting white blooms last a month or more. How long a peace lily lives depends on its care and environment. Many people consider three to five years an average peace lily lifespan. However, indoor peace lilies have been known to live two decades or more.
Late winter or early spring is the best time to repot and propagate peace lilies.
Caring for Peace Lilies
Understanding the peace lily's tropical origins provides excellent clues about how to care for these plants. The more closely your growing conditions mimic its natural preferences, the happier your peace lily will be.
- Light – Peace lilies do very well in low-light situations, even flowering with as little as two to four hours of sunlight per day. But they do best in bright, filtered, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight, which can burn peace lily leaves.
- Soil – Peace lilies prefer consistently moist soil. Use a potting mix designed for indoor plants that's rich in moisture-retaining organic matter to duplicate the forest floor. Avoid mixes designed for succulents, which stay too dry for these plants.
- Water – Never let your peace lily completely dry out and wilt, or sit in overly wet soil. Allow the soil to dry a few inches down, then water thoroughly so water runs through the pot's drainage holes. Dump any excess water from the saucer. For best results, use water at room temperature.
- Fertilizer – Peace lilies do best with minimal fertilizer. Give your plant a good foundation of essential plant nutrients with Pennington UltraGreen All Purpose Plant Food 10-10-10 at one-fourth the label dosage. Natural-based Alaska Fish Fertilizer 5-1-1 provides a gentle dose of foliage-enhancing nitrogen throughout the year. Don't overfertilize; you can damage sensitive roots and leaves.
- Pruning – Peace lilies don't need pruning like hydrangeas or other woody plants. Prune as needed to remove dead, damaged or unattractive leaves. For brown or discolored leaf tips, carefully trim the dead leaf tissue with a pair of sharp garden scissors, following the natural leaf outline, or remove the entire leaf.
- Repotting – Peace lilies do best when they're slightly potbound, so don't rush to repot. The best time to transplant peace lilies is late winter or early spring. Chose a container with good drainage just a few inches larger than the current pot. Use Pennington UltraGreen Plant Starter with Vitamin B1 to reduce transplant shock.
- Propagating – Repotting is the perfect time to propagate. As with snake plants, simple division is the best way to propagate peace lilies. Once the plant is free from its pot, carefully pull the roots apart. The plant will easily divide into smaller root sections with several leaves each. Replant the divisions just as you'd plant small plants. Use Pennington UltraGreen Plant Starter with Vitamin B1 to help start your new plants right.
Keep pets away from toxic peace lily leaves.
Troubleshooting Peace Lily Problems
Most peace lily problems trace back to improper care or conditions. Overwatering and underwatering top the list. If your peace lily starts to look unhealthy, check your watering regimen and your soil moisture and make corrections as needed.
- Leaf problems – Sudden drooping, wilting, curling, brown or yellow leaves are likely due to underwatering. When those conditions occur more gradually, overwatering and soggy soil are typically the cause.
- Brown leaf tips – Brown leaf tips can indicate exposure to cold temperatures, underwatering or overfertilizing your plant. A gentle nonburning fertilizer like Alaska Fish Fertilizer 5-1-1 helps prevent brown tips.
- Flower problems – Peace lily flowers naturally change color as they age. As with poinsettias, the sail-like peace lily flower is actually a modified leaf. New flowers start green and then turn white. As they age, the flowers turn green again and then brown. When old flowers fade, simply cut them off at the stem's base.
- Peace lily toxicity – Peace lily leaves are toxic if eaten in large quantities.1 Train dogs, cats and children to avoid this plant or place it out of their reach. If a pet or child ingests peace lily leaves, contain your veterinarian or medical doctor right away.
By learning how to grow and care for peace lilies, you can enjoy years of the beautiful foliage and white blooms these easy-care plants provide. At Pennington, we're committed to bringing you the finest in plant fertilizers and timely advice. From growing houseplants to homegrown food, we're here to help you succeed.
Always read product labels thoroughly and follow instructions.
1. North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Tool Box, "Spathiphyllum," NC State Extension.