Known for their delicate cup-like flowers and dark green foliage, peace lilies are a particularly striking houseplant. They grow naturally in the rainforests of Colombia and Venezuela but have become famous worldwide for their easygoing indoor aesthetic.
Whether a gardener wants to grow a peace lily for its beauty or its symbolism, these commonly asked questions can help simplify cultivation.
Peace lilies are from the rainforest, but they don't require as much water as you might expect. They are a particularly communicative plant: they will start to droop dramatically when they are thirsty. Luckily, they also tend to perk up quickly as soon as they are watered.
Keep the soil slightly moist but not soaked. You can also keep peace lilies happy by misting the leaves periodically.
Dappled, indirect sunlight is best for peace lilies. Direct light will burn the flowers if they are exposed for too long. Ideally, place the lilies in an area of the house where it is bright but they don't get focused sunlight — one good way to tell is to look at the shadow when the sun is brightest in that area. If it's fuzzy, it's likely indirect light. If the shadow edges are sharp, it's direct light.
Go ahead and move the plant around your house to find the best spot, bearing in mind that the peace lily can handle darkness better than some other plants.
Water is usually the culprit when a peace lily wilts. Both overwatering and underwatering can result in a sickly-looking plant. Check the soil to see if it feels dry or soggy and make sure there are holes for excess water to drain out of the pot.
If the soil is dry, simply watering the plant will likely encourage it to perk up. Some rarer causes of drooping are too much sunlight, disease, bug infestation, and low humidity.
Leaves naturally turn yellow as the peace lily ages, so an occasional yellow leaf is not a cause for concern, and it will likely be replaced by a new green one. If the whole plant is turning yellow, however, that could be down to improper watering or sunlight.
Try moving the plant to a location with more or less light. Check that the water level is appropriate and consider using distilled water instead of tap water if the problem persists.
Clay soil and sandy, gritty soils are both problematic for peace lilies. They can lead to water-logged roots, or the soil may absorb the water too quickly and leave the plant thirsty.
Ideal soils have a fine grind but are porous enough that water can drain properly. Peace lilies thrive in a combination of pearlite, peat moss, and fine bark.
Peace lilies are not as toxic to cats as true lilies, but a kitty who licks the plant or eats the leaves can still become extremely sick. It's not recommended to grow any type of lily in a home that has a cat. The plant can also cause stomach upset or irritation in dogs, birds, rabbits, and rodents.
As hardy as peace lilies are, they struggle to bloom if they do not receive proper sunlight. The first thing to check is whether they are in a place that has plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. A north-facing windowsill is an ideal place for the peace lily. If lighting isn't the issue, it could be that the lily needs to be re-potted or fertilized.
If the peace lily is in direct sunlight, those brown patches could be sunburns. Try misting the plant lightly once a day. Browning on lilies can also be the result of overwatering or overfertilizing the plant. Too much water can keep oxygen from reaching the roots, encourage rot, and damage nutrition.
Using too much fertilizer or the wrong kind of fertilizer can result in unhealthy flowers, too. A balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once a month is typically enough for a peace lily.
If there's no rotting at the roots and the plant is only slightly drooping, it may be enough to simply stop watering your peace lily until the soil dries out completely.
In more serious cases, remove the leaves affected by overwatering and cut off any portions of root that are mushy or moldy. Repot the plant in dry, fresh soil in a pot with proper drainage and keep an eye on it for a few weeks, watering only when the soil is quite dry.
The average peace lily grows to between 1 and 4 feet tall. Some lilies, however, get unusually large. If this happens, you can prune or separate your plant. Use sterilized cutting shears to prune. Cut off any unhealthy flowers and leaves as close to the base as possible, and then remove enough healthy leaves to reach a more manageable size.
To separate the lily, gently remove the plant from the soil and use a sterilized knife to cut the root ball — a collection of roots that sustains the entire plant — into sections. Each of these sections can be placed in its own pot to grow a smaller plant.