How to Take Care of a Peace Lily
Peace lilies, or Spathiphyllum, are beautiful flowers that can really brighten up any room in your home. As a member of the Araceae family of flowering plants, they are known for their easy care.
Hardy and forgiving, these plants have long, glossy, dark-green leaves and white flowers. They are easy to care for and will even let you know when they need a drink with a telltale droop. These lovely plants are a must in any home or office.
I will share some ways to keep your peace lily healthy and blooming all year. We'll cover these care tips:
- Best fertilizers and soil mixtures
- Watering tips
- Breaking up root-bound lilies
I will also cover these common peace lily issues:
- Yellow leaves
- Brown leaves
- Root rot
- Spider mites
But first, I will answer a common question about peace lilies.
Are Peace Lilies Indoor or Outdoor Plants?
Both! These plants do very well indoors because they don't like direct sunlight. Partial shade and indirect light suit them fine, so a potted peace lily will bloom for you from a corner of the room, top of your desk, or high on a shelf. Just make sure it gets some light and enough water to keep the soil moist.
Peace lilies also make great houseplants because they help keep the air clean. In fact, NASA named this plant one of the top 12 houseplants for reducing indoor air pollution.
Outdoors, these plants live happily year-round in hot, humid areas. They are native to tropical rainforests, so if you live in the desert, you're better off keeping your peace lily inside. If it does get humid where you live, however, choose a spot with filtered sunlight. To keep the roots moist, put about three inches of mulch around the roots at the soil level. This will keep water from evaporating and the temperature more consistent. As outdoor plants peace lilies like more fertilizer. Every month give it a general garden fertilizer (20-20-20) diluted with an equal amount of water.
When do peace lilies bloom?
Peace lilies begin to bloom in the spring and summer. Under the right conditions, they will produce blooms all year. To encourage flowers, dilute organic fertilizer with the plant's water. Every six weeks add a liquid 20-20-20 fertilizer to the lily's water.
Best Soil Conditions for Abundant Peace Lilies
Soil, fertilizer, and good drainage
A peace lily is susceptible to root rot, but you can help avoid this problem by giving your plant good drainage. Make sure your plant has a chance to dry out between waterings and that the container it is housed in is also dry. To help ensure that the soil has good drainage, consider adding horticultural bark, compost, or coconut coir fiber to the potting mix.
Check the roots by peeking into the holes on the bottom of the pot. They should be firm and light-colored. If they are soggy and brown, fertilize the plant and let it dry out.
As a rule, peace lilies like it when their roots are crowded. However, at a certain point, it is best to split up the lily into multiple pots or repot the whole plant into a bigger pot.
If the roots are crowded and have taken over the soil, or they are drinking all the water you give them in a couple of days then you might want to think about re-potting it (see below for tips on how to do this).
Watering Your Peace Lily
Peace lilies are happiest when their soil is moist. Water your plant once a week. If your plant is in a warm environment, it may need more frequent watering. The warmer your home, the more quickly your houseplants will dry out. Of course, if you live in a warmer climate then you will notice that your peace lily needs watering more too especially during the summer months.
These plants will let you know when they are thirsty. The leaves will droop down. Even if it completely droops, say after you've been away for several days, this plant is very hardy and will bounce back up once it has a drink.
Note: It is possible to over-water peace lilies. To make sure you don't do this, let the soil dry out between watering. Once it is dry then you are free to water again.
How to tell you need to change your watering routine:
- Yellow or brown spots or streaks on the leaves may mean it is getting too much water.
- Drooping leaves with yellow or brown spots could mean the plant isn't getting enough water.
What to do when either of these things happens:
- Let the soil dry out before watering it again and it should be fine.
- If the leaves droop, your plant is telling you that it needs a drink.
Peace Lilies Don't Like Direct Sunlight
Peace lilies prefer shaded areas. While your plant may look pretty on a sunny windowsill, it will quickly begin to burn in that much light. For any plant to grow it does need some sunlight though, so this is a balancing act. Once you find an ideal shady area, your plant will thrive. Look for a spot with:
- filtered or indirect sunlight
- bright or partial shade
- low, natural light
Direct sunlight can actually be harmful to the foliage!
Telltale signs that the lighting is wrong:
- Yellow or brown spots or streaks on the leaves may mean it is getting too much direct sunlight.
What to do:
- Try placing the plant in a shadier spot. This should correct the problem. Peace lilies are hardy, so don't worry.
Consistent Temperatures Are Best
The ideal temperature for a peace lily is between 18°C (65 F) and 30°C (80 F). This is what makes this plant so ideal for indoors. It's easier to control the temperature inside than out in the garden or on a balcony.
On the other hand, if your peace lily is a houseplant, it's important to monitor the soil moisture level during the winter if you turn the heater on. Make sure the soil stays moist and never place your peace lily right next to a heater.
How to tell if your peace lily is too hot or cold:
- Yellow or brown spots or streaks on the leaves may mean it is too hot.
- Drooping and browning leaves could mean it is too cold.
What to do:
- If your plant is too warm, it may need watering more often to help it cool down. A daily spray of water on the leaves will also help to keep the temperature down.
- If your houseplant is too cold, try turning the heat on, moving your plant to a warmer spot, or even wrapping the pot to insulate the roots.
When to Break Up or Repot Your Peace Lily
While peace lilies like their roots to be crowded, at a certain point the plant simply outgrows its pot. When the roots begin to grow out of the holes in the container, it's time to separate or repot the plant.
You have two choices: Move the whole plant into a bigger pot or divide the lily into multiple plants and repot separately.
How to remove the plant from the pot:
- Using a knife helps make this easier, since the plant is so tightly positioned in the pot.
- Slide the knife around inside the pot to loosen the plant.
- Wiggle or slide the plant out of the pot.
How to separate the plant into more than one plant:
- Lay the plant on its side.
- Slide the knife into the rootball and work the knife back and forth until it exits out into the foliage.
- You should have two separate plants now, each with its own rootball and foliage.
How to pot or repot your peace lily.
- If you have separated your plant, place some potting soil into the bottom of the original pot.
- Place one of the lilies into the center of the pot.
- Holding onto the plant, add potting soil around the roots to secure it in place.
- Make sure to water the plant to remove any air pockets and help the plants settle into position.
How to repot your lily without separating it.
- Choose a pot that is at least two inches wider and deeper than the original pot.
- Put some potting soil in the bottom of the pot.
- Place your peace lily into the center of the pot.
- Holding onto the plant, put potting soil around the plant to fill the empty space.
- Water the plant to help secure it into place.
Common Issues for Peace Lilies
Yellow or brown leaves
The plant needs more water.
Drooping, yellow leaves that are brown at the tips
Along with poor growth, these issues are a sign of root rot. If this happens, let the soil dry out before watering again. Also make sure that the pot has adequate drainage holes.
Brown spots and webbing on leaves
These are signs of spider mites. To be sure that this is the problem, shake your plant over a piece of white paper. If you see what looks like particles of dust scurrying over the paper, then the plant has spider mites. Spray the plant with a strong jet of water to wash the bugs off. Follow with a (gentler) spray of insecticidal soap diluted with water. Wiping leaves regularly also helps keeps mites away.
Are Peace Lilies Poisonous?
These plants are toxic to both dogs and cats, so keep them out of reach of pets if possible. They are also mildly toxic to humans. Ingesting the plant can cause burning and swelling of lips, mouth, and tongue, difficulty speaking or swallowing, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. Make sure children wash their hands well after touching peace lilies.