Peace Lily Care Questions And Answers On Spathiphyllum

peace lily care questions

Peace Lily care questions, we get all kinds of questions on it’s care. The plant known botanically as Spathiphyllum comes in many sizes, with lots of blooms and lots of green. It’s care information you will not find on the plant tags, along with answers to questions the local garden center probably cannot answer. Let’s get started.

Peace Lily or botanically Spathiphyllum the genus name means, literally, “leaf spathe”, with spathe defined as “A large bract or pair of bracts sheathing a flower cluster, as a spadix.”

You’re likely to know it as “Peace Lily”. It’s widespread interior use, due to its exceptional acclimation to low light conditions and air cleaning qualities. This fascinating plant somehow managed to circle the world long before man discovered its beauty.

Wherever it is found, it thrives despite pests, in the deep shade of the humid tropical rainforest understory. There are many cultivars in production today, and can be generally classified into large, medium, and small varieties.

How To Care For A Peace Lily?

That’s the first question most people ask when they receive one as a lovely gift for a wide variety of occasions. Even without any particular care info they do fairly well for a long time.

Even though the Peace Lily is quite easy to care for, just as with any other living thing it’s important to know what it likes before you take on the responsibility of caring for one. In this article, we present 20 common questions and their answers to help you learn how to care for Peace Lilies. Read on to learn more.

What Are Peace Lilies?

A member of the Araceae “aroid” family, the Peace Lily calls the Philodendron, Pothos, Anthurium and Colocasia cousins. You may sometimes hear the plant referred to as a “spathe flower“ or simply “spathe“. More than 30 different types of plants belong to this group along with dozens of hybrids. They are native to tropical areas of the Americas and also to southeastern Asia.

These evergreen plants, make attractive and excellent houseplants with their low water requirements and low lighting needs to thrive. Spathe plant leaves average 12-18 inches long and three inches wide. Their flowers take the form of an attractive, white ellipsoid shape surrounding a white, yellow or green stamen.

According to a study conducted by NASA, they found Peace Lilies among the top 10 houseplants which work cleaning indoor air. Spathiphyllum’s prove very beneficial in the home neutralizing toxic gases such as benzene, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide.

Add to this the fact that the Peace Lily is so resilient and such a carefree choice, and it’s easy to see why so many people like to add these lilies to their home and office settings.

Low-Care Is Not No Peace Lily Care

The Peace Lily though a wonderful addition to your household, needs proper placement, receive the right amount of light and kept in a relatively temperate atmosphere. Here are some of the most common questions regarding the requirements of the Peace Lily Spathiphyllum plant:

#1 – Why Does My Peace Lily Get Brown Tips?

Have you ever experienced or wondered – Why Peace Lilies get brown tips?

This one question we get daily about brown tips on plants in general and the peace lily is no different. When you are one of the best clean air plants, a popular indoor houseplant and a hard worker to beautify your space, you can find many reasons why leaf tips turn brown.

Everything from over-watering, too much heat, too much fertilizer, or any combination of these factors and others.

Peace lilies can produce a pot full of green leaves and pest at times can hide out. Fortunately, we use an easy safe, all natural way to control pest – organic neem oil.

Once the big spring push ends spathiphyllum flowers will eventually fade. Many people don’t know what to do or they wonder if the plant will die as the bloom fades away. We see the evidence from the daily questions in our email. Read more on the topic here.

#2 – Do Peace Plant Flowers Naturally Fade or Die Off?

Lets go over a few things so you’ll know what to expect.

Spathiphylliums come in many varieties and sizes. It’s also the case in the way some of the flowers die. Some varieties flower over a long period of time and may have flowers coming and going at the same time. Others may come into bloom with a flower or two and slowly wither away.

Flowers, generally expire in a couple of ways. After pushing up their pure white hoods above the foliage the flowers last for weeks and months. When they reach the end of their cycle they begin to die off. The white hoods begin to discolor and get brown spots, much like you see with cut flowers. The flowers can also slowly begin to turn green in color.

You may also experience both of these conditions on the same plant. We usually find flowers turning green once pollinated and seed has set. You can extend the blooming time of your spathiphyllum by keeping water off of the blooms. If you mist your plant, take care to keep the mist on the leaves and off the flowers.

Removing The Flower

Flowers take energy from the plant. When blooms begin to fade it’s time to remove it, green or with brown spots.

You’ll notice the flower stalk comes up right next to the leaf petiole. Don’t just remove the flower and leave the flower stalk; remove the flower stalk as far down as possible without cutting the leaf off. Make sure to cut the stalk, do not try to rip or twist it out.

Leaving the flowers on for an extended period of time can cause the new leaves to come out smaller, usually due to the energy used during flower production.

Spathiphyllums make excellent foliage plants even without flowers. Enjoy your plant while blooming and then enjoy this tough indoor plant for its foliage. If you want flowers all the time try some artificial ones in your real plants.

Why Is It Possible Your Spathiphyllum Won’t flower?

Usually, it comes down to light. But, some varieties you’ll rarely see flowers on, like Spathiphyllum Sensation. But in general, your plant probably needs more light.

#3 – Where Is The Best Place For A Peace Lily?

These hardy tropical plants will be happiest with a measured amount of indirect sunlight. Keep them near a west facing or north facing window.

They will get steady indirect sunlight for a measured period of time each day. If you place your Peace Lilies near east facing or south facing windows, the lighting will be indirect but could be too strong.

South facing windows receive light all day long, and this may not make your Peace plant happy.

#4 – Should You Protect Peace Lilies From Direct Sun?

Yes, peace lilies like indirect light but can sunburn if exposed to direct sun for very long periods of time.

They do very well under florescent lighting, and why you see them used some much in an office setting as indoor plants. With good artificial lighting your plants will thrive throughout the year even in a windowless office.

#5 – How Can You Tell If Your Spathe Is Getting The Right Amount Of Light?

Spaths will give you many indications it if doesn’t like it’s location. Yellow streaks in the leaves, gives the first clue your spathe is getting too much light.

If you see brown streaks and spots, observe your plant carefully. At some point during the day direct sunlight could be hitting the leaves. These direct rays will scorch your plant quickly, and move the plant right away to help protect it against more damage.

Light and/or temperature influence flowering… long days, short days, cold snaps followed by warm weather and light levels. Do your plants have a nice dark green color? Are they healthy?

They may look good but not receive enough light to flower. Plants grown in the nursery probably receive 3000 foot candles or more of light. Most northern interiors if they receive 10% of that amount would be considered a lot of light. Many people do not understand – how light or lack of it effects plants.

Look around and you’ll notice plants flowering in the landscape. If the plants don’t get enough light they will have few flowers. It’s no different for your spathiphyllum.

#6 – What Is The Best Temperature For A Peace Lily?

Just like you, these hardy, tropical plants come with temperature preferences. If you keep your home or office (the microclimate) between 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, your plants will do just fine.

Place them away from doorways where they might get cold drafts (winter especially). Also, do not put your plant near an uninsulated opening. Protect Spaths from freezing temperatures or excessively hot temperatures.

If the temperature in your home or office drops below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, plants may experience some damage.

#7 – What About Peace Lily Fertilizer?

Although fertilizer is not absolutely necessary, I’m not a fan. Many people start fertilizing house plants pouring on fertilizer thinking it will force the plant to flower… you may, in fact, cause more problems.

Plants in the landscape haven’t been getting fertilizer? I hate to say it but the best thing to do with your plant that doesn’t flower, and you do not have a place where it can get more light… enjoy it as a foliage plant.

However, if you plan of fertilizing use a balanced (20-20-20) liquid household plant fertilizer diluted by one half or one quarter on a monthly basis throughout the spring and summer.

Unlike Calla Lilies, Peace Lilies do not go into a dormant stage when not blooming. Even though it will continue to grow and thrive, keep fertilizer applications to a minimum during its non-blooming phase. Stop fertilizing after the blooms died back, and do not begin again until they start to show in the spring. If you fertilize too much, your plant may produce lots of green foliage.

#8 – Why Do Peace Lily Flowers Look So Strange?

The blooms of the Peace Lily are not actually flowers, but an inflorescence. They do not have petals, as you would find on standard flowers.

When you take good care of your Peace plant – lighting, watering, etc, you can encourage it to produce these “flowers” a couple of times a year: once in the spring and again in the fall.

Blooms last about (two or more months), when blooms fade, the lovely foliage remains and continues to brighten your environment and keep cleaning the air.

#9 – How Much Water Do Peace Lilies Need?

Set up a schedule of weekly watering and misting, or you can wait until your plant begins to droop a bit and then water. Either way works fine. Simply follow your own preference in this regard.

Use distilled water or rain water (if possible) as these plants can be sensitive to chemicals found in tap water. If you must use tap water, allow it to stand overnight so the chemicals can dissipate. This also brings the water to room temperature making it less likely to shock the root system.

FYI: Peace Lilies grow well in self-watering pots.

#10 – What If I Forget To Water My Plants?

If you must be away for a while, or for some other reason neglect your plant, don’t despair if your spathe seems to be dead upon your return. Give it a good watering and misting, and you may be pleasantly surprised to see it come back to life!

Why Are My Peace Lily Plants Drooping

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The Spathiphyllum can get droopy if then don’t get enough water and the soil drys out or if the plant sits in an area which warms up or gets flat out hot during the day.

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Overwatering causes many people to never successfully enjoy  indoor plants. Although it’s best to not allow your Peace lily dry out, they can be very helpful in teaching us how much time can go by between waterings.

Spathiphyllums being Thirsty Plants, let you know quickly when they want a drink by a noticeably droop in the foliage. All this while still creating a tropical look and removing toxins in a room.

Time and time again we see the peace lily wilt when it does not get enough water, the bounce back quickly once watered.

One thing to keep in mind… during the summer months IF your Spathiphyllum sits in a bright or warm area you may notice a “droop” in the foliage late in the day even if the plant is moist.

Check out this video and watch the Peace Lily unwilt!

The plant may not need water… make sure NOT to overwater the plant. If heat levels get high and the leaves “droop” every day you may begin to see some brown tips or edges. Move the plant to a more protected area or cooler space if possible. In the nursery because for the heat… it isn’t unusual to see Spathiphyllum droop late in the day.

Next time you’re ready to pour water on your Spathiphyllum, WAIT – let’em droop (just a little).

The whole topic of growing a peace lily roots in water along with a beta fish was a popular item in the late 1990’s and people still enjoy them today.

#11 – How Big Will My Peace Lily Get?

This all depends on the variety of Spathiphyllum you own. You’ll find small varieties (Spathiphyllum Wallisii or  Starlight) – full grown – in 6 inch pots. Other mid-size plants (Supreme & Lynise) reach the 18-30 inch size, and still others (Sensation) ranging in size from 3 to 5 feet.

#12 – Do They Need Pruning?

These indoor plants do not require lots of “pruning” more basic grooming would better define the practice.

  • Pinch back the bloom stamens when pollen begins to fall.
  • If the bracts begin transitioning to a green shade, simply pinch or cut these blooms off. This will also help the plant conserve energy.
  • Remove old leaves when they become yellow.

Anytime you prune leaves, be sure to use sharp, clean blades and trim as close to the level of the soil as you can.

#13 – What If My Plant Gets Too Big For Its Pot?

Good plant care means naturally growing in a robust manner. When you see roots poking through the drainage holes or the plant simply seems to be bursting out of the pot, it could be time to give it a new home.

Likewise, if your weekly watering just never seems to be enough, it may indicate your plant’s roots need more water.

Even if you don’t see these signs, you should repot annually or biannually so your plant can benefit from fresh soil and more space.

NOTE: I find many homeowners repotting indoor plants to larger containers when they really do not require it. In my home you’ll find several plants in the same pots for over 7 years.

#14 – What Type Of Soil Is Best For Spathiphyllum?

Use a light soil mix which drains well. An African Violet potting mix would work well or a simple mix of peat moss and perlite. Mix 6 parts peat moss and 4 parts perlite.

#15 – What Type Of Pot Is Best?

Select the type of pot according to your own tastes. Plastic, clay or ceramic will all work just fine. The most important thing – the pot must have good drainage holes. If you select a pot without drainage holes, you’ll need to drill some. Otherwise, your plant will suffer from root rot.

Don’t use an excessively large pot. Peace Lilies like being a little bit root-bound.

#16 – What Are The Steps For Repotting Spathiphyllum?

  • Cover the bottom of the pot with about an inch or two of gravel for good drainage and to prevent potting soil from coming out of the drainage holes.
  • Put a layer of potting soil over the gravel to support the root ball of the plant. The layer should be enough to make the existing surface of the plant’s soil, even with the top of the pot.
  • Gently remove the plant from its original pot. If stuck, gently encourage it with a trowel and or soak it for a while to help it slip out of pot.
  • Center the root ball on the layer of soil and fill in the empty space around it with fresh moist potting soil.
  • Water lightly around the edges to help the new soil settle and add more soil as needed to bring the soil level even with the top of the pot.

NOTE: Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling your Peace Lily. The oxalates in the plant can irritate your skin.

 

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Ever noticed when paying with cash and using a large bill the cashier usually looks at the bill to make sure it’s real and not counterfeit?

In fact when teaching money handlers the difference between “real” and “fake” they only show them “real” money and don’t expose them to fake. This way when they see “fake” they know it.

Indoor plants root systems are no different. The key in caring for plants and growing them well you cannot see above the ground… it hides below. Focus on growing “good roots” the tops will follow.

Just like “real money” it’s important to know what healthy roots look like for any species. This way when disease pops up you’ll know it looks like. The image above shows a healthy root system on a “Peace Lily.” Before you buy any plant… knock it out of the pot and look at the roots. The roots will tell you a lot about the plant and your future success!

#17 – Are Peace Lilies Poisonous?

Spathiplyllum plants are actually rhizomatous herbs, not true lilies. True lilies are very toxic to both people and pets. However, they are not actually poisonous, but they can be quite irritating. The reason? They contain oxalates that can cause irritation to mucous membranes and the stomach lining.

If a cat, dog or person ingests any part of the Peace Lily, profuse salivation will follow. If swallowed, extreme stomach upset will result. For this reason, handle them with care and safeguarded against tampering by pets and children.

NOTE: In my years of growing Spathiphyllum commercially, and handling well over a half million plants, I’ve never experienced any issues or irritation.

#18 – Can You Divide The Peace Lily?

New plants – we call the suckers – appear around the base of mature plants. Generally, I’d advise against trying to divide plants. However, if you’re inclined, annual repotting provides ideal time to separate these crowns from the parent. Here’s how:

  • When you remove the parent plant from its original pot, lay it down flat on a layer of newspaper or, if the weather is mild, on the grass outdoors.
  • Locate the new crowns.
  • Carefully separate the roots of the crown from the roots of the parent plant. This can be a time-consuming and painstaking process if you manually break down and separate the roots. Some growers use shears to simply cut through the roots and separate the plants.
  • Repot your new, young crowns in small pots (six inches) using as much of the soil from the original pot as possible, along with proper spathe potting mix.
  • If necessary, stake and tie your young plants to prevent them from falling over.

Don’t be alarmed if your transplants wilt a bit at first. They should recover within a couple of weeks. Don’t fertilize these youngsters for at least three months, as fertilization may burn the roots.

#19 – Can Peace Lilies Live Outdoors?

These plants naturally lives outdoors in their native tropical climate. However, in these tropical areas the plants experience a higher humidity level, fewer dry winds unlike most parts of the United States and other areas.

If you live in a warm, humid area of the US, such as Hawaii or Florida, you may very well plants these outdoors quite successfully. In any other areas of the US, you must carefully consider the outdoor weather during warmer times of year.

You may be able to set your plants outside (under shade) during the spring and summer if the weather permits. If mild, temperate conditions prevail during the warm months of the year, you can keep your Peace Lilies outdoors during these months and then bring them in during the colder months.

NOTE: Personally, I like to keep plants inside or outside not move them back and forth. In my opinion, plants undergo too much stress moving back and forth.

#20 – What Pests Attack Peace Lilies?

Three insects basically attack Peace plants. Aphids, mealy bugs and spider mites. Follow these instructions to detect and eradicate these pests:

Aphids – If your plant becomes covered with a sticky slime, check for Aphids. Additionally, ants (which like to eat this slime) may be present on your plants.

If this happens, wash the plant (don;t scrub) with a strong stream of room temperature water. Follow this up with a thorough spraying using insecticidal soap or neem oil. This should control any remaining aphids and prevent reinfestation.

Mealybugs – Mealybugs like to hang out between your plant’s stems and leaves. Additionally, foliage may begin to turn yellow and dry. Look for mealy bugs and a cottony mass.

To control them, wipe them off with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol. Follow-up by spraying with insecticidal soap or neem oil to prevent reinfestation.

Spider Mites – Small microscopic pests known by the symptoms they cause. If your lily begins to exhibit brown spots on the leaves, and you notice webbing between the leaves you’re probably looking at a spider mite infestation.

Treat them as you would aphids by giving your Peace Lily a vigorous shower and following up with a dose of insecticidal soap or neem oil.

#21 – Does Spathiphyllum Have Any Health Problems?

Unfortunately, leaf discoloration and a number of other symptoms caused by problems other than pests. Environmental issues may also cause these signs of trouble. If you’ve treated for pests to no avail, there are a few other scenarios you should investigate.

  • Yellow leaves caused by lack of water. This is especially true if your plant is also wilted. To address this issue, repot as described above, water and mist on a regular, weekly schedule.
  • Brown leaf tips caused by too much water and/or too much fertilization. Additionally excessive humidity can cause this problem.
  • Try skipping fertilizer for a month and be sure to allow your plant to wilt a bit before watering it again. Remember to prune off brown leaves promptly to present the development of fungus.
  • Wilting caused by lack of water, or conversely it may be caused by too much water. Examine your plant’s soil to determine the problem.If you find it soggy, it’s very likely that excessive water has killed the roots. To address this problem, you must repot your plant. Be sure to cut off any rotten or decayed roots and wash all of the old soil off to get rid of any fungus that may have developed.Use potting soil especially prepared for Peace Lilies because good drainage is of the utmost importance in this case.
  • Poor blooming or lack of blooms may result when your spathe does not have enough nourishment. Be sure to select the right type of fertilizer for your plant and follow directions carefully throughout the blooming season.
  • Black leaves are caused by exposure to frost. If your plant is too near a non-insulated window or door or is kept outside, remove the black leaves with a sharp blade and move the plant to a more protected area for special care.

Don’t Be Discouraged!

Don’t let the extensive nature of these instructions put you off Peace Lilies! There is a good reason why these beneficial, eco-friendly houseplants are so very popular. They really are extremely easy to care for.

They need little watering, and they thrive in low light conditions such as those found in most homes, hospitals, offices and other places where people tend to be. If you keep your home or work environment comfortable for humans, chances are spathe will be perfectly happy!

Just as with any sort of living being, the spathiphyllum can fall prey to insects or illness, but all-in-all this hardy plant resists most threats and is very easy to care for in a normal home or office environment.

The top it all off, having a nice collection of Peace Lilies in your home will improve your air quality and brighten your interior living and work space.

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