Peace Lily Care – How to Grow Spathiphyllum

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The Peace Lily, also known as the White Sail Plant or Spathiphyllum, is one of the most popular plants to grow indoors. If people only knew that it filters out five dangerous toxins from the air, it would be the most popular of all!

The toxins include benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and ammonia.

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about caring for these beautiful houseplants.​

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Spathiphyllum Overview

Common Name(s) Peace lily, spath, white flag, white sail plant
Scientific Name Spathiphyllum
Family Araceae
Origin Americas and southeastern asia
Height Up to 6 fteet
Light Medium-low
Water Medium, do not over water
Temperature 65-75°F
Humidity Medium, mist sometimes
Soil Moist
Fertilizer Use weak fertilizer every few weeks
Propagation When repotting, divide the plant
Pests Minimal, possible spider mites

Peace lilies are one of the most beautiful houseplants you can grow, if only for the dark green foliage that gracefully arches over. But I don’t think I’m alone in saying that most of us grow them for the gorgeous white blossoms that develop on top of slender, straight stems. The contrast between these blooms and the dark foliage is what makes peace lilies so beautiful.

The flowers are generally taller than the foliage and resemble a calla lily. Flowers start out a pale green and turn to a creamy white as they mature. They’re long lasting blooms and have a very light fragrance.​

Types of Peace Lilies

There are over 40 varieties of peace lily, which is far too many to cover in this article! However, they can be split into the different sizes that they grow as well as the cultivars that are most often found in garden centers:

Small Peace Lilies

Power Petite

‘Power Petite’ source

​’Power Petite’ is one of the smallest varieties you can grow as it tops out at around 15″ or so.

Wallisii

‘Wallisii’ source

​Another great choice for a smaller peace lily, ‘Wallisii’ has longer and more rippled leaves but ends up at about 15″ tall as well.

 

Medium-Sized Peace Lilies

Mauna Loa Supreme

‘Mauna Loa Supreme’

‘Mauna Loa Supreme’ is one of the more common lilies sold around the country. It gets to 3-4′ tall and leaves that can reach 9″ wide.

Clevelandii

‘Clevelandii’ source

​’Clevelandii’ grows much shorter than ‘Mauna Loa Supreme’, coming in at 1-3′ tall. However it has leaves that can reach 1.5′ long, making it a unique choice.

Large Peace Lilies

Sensation

‘Sensation’ source

​The largest peace lily variety out there, ‘Sensation’ will reach up to 6′ tall. The leaves will reach up to 20″ long and are quite broad. There’s also a smaller variety known as ‘Sensation Mini’.

Variegated Peace Lilies​

Domino

‘Domino’ source

The only cultivar that is variegated, ‘Domino’ is absolutely striking. It looks like someone splashed white paint all over the leaves.

Peace Lily Care

Peace Lily Care

Depending on the type of peace lily you get, it will grow anywhere from 1-6′. They do not have a dormant season unlike many houseplants, so will grow throughout the year. However, they will stop producing blooms in the winter and require less water during that season.

Light

Unlike many plants, peace lilies will thrive in low-light areas. You can place them 5-8 feet from a window and they’ll do just fine. If you place them in direct sunlight for long periods of time, the leaves will yellow, die, and fall off.

If you have no light whatsoever, many gardeners have successfully grown them under T5 fluorescent grow lights. So even in the dead of winter you can enjoy beautiful lilies!

Temperature

Peace lilies should be grown in temperatures ranging from 68-80°F. Don’t place them in a drafty area as they do not like it.

They don’t tolerate extreme cold well, so if your temperatures drop below 45°F, they will most likely die.​

Water

Try to keep your soil evenly moist but not soggy. Standing water will quickly kill the root system. In fact, the most common reason that people kill their peace lilies is because they over-water them. Watering no more than once a week is plenty for this plant. Water even less during winter as the plant won’t be producing blooms.

​You can tell your spathiphyllum needs water when the leaves slightly droop. Don’t wait too long though — severely drooping leaves means the plant has been dry long enough to damage the root system. The bottom leaves may turn yellow and fall off.

Note: the chlorine in tap water can damage your peace lily. If possible, filtered water or leave your tap water out for 24+ hours so the chlorine breaks down.

Soil

A standard well-draining, nutrient-rich potting soil will work well for peace lilies. If you find it holds too much moisture, add some perlite or coarse sand to the mixture.

If you want to make your own potting mix, add equal parts garden soil, coarse sand, and perlite. The soil should be well-aerated and in a pot with a drainage hole to prevent root rot.​

Fertilizer

You can get away without fertilizing your peace lily. But if you do decide to feed it, don’t go overboard. Use a well-balanced 20-20-20- fertilizer but dilute it to 25% of the recommended dose. If you notice the tips of the leaves and blooms turning brown, you’ve probably over-fertilized.​

Fertilize only in spring and summer — it doesn’t grow enough in fall and winter to justify fertilization.​

Repotting

Peace lilies like to be somewhat root-bound. Re-potting is only needed about every other year. When re-potting, place in a pot that is a couple of inches larger than the original pot so that the roots will still be slightly together.​

Here are some signs your plant is too root-bound and needs re-potting:

  • Your plant is absorbing all of the water you pour on it within only a couple of days
  • There are crowded roots showing through the bottom of the pot
  • The stalks are crowding the pot

If you want, you can even re-pot these into coconut husks like this person did.

Pruning​

Pruning isn’t necessary, but you may want to prune anyways to keep your lily looking beautiful throughout the year.

Because every ​stem produces only one flower, once that flower dies it may not look amazing. Cut it back at the base of the stem to remove it and spur new growth.

You can also prune off yellowing leaves or leaves that are drooping severely. While it’s better to prevent these problems in the first place, sometimes the leaves are too far gone and must be removed.​

Propagation

The simplest way to propagate new peace lily plants is by dividing them. New crowns will form at the side of the plant that can be cut away and re-potted.

Choose crowns that have at least two leaves present and use a sharp, disinfected knife to separate them from the parent plant.​

When cutting away the crown, try to get as many roots as you can — this will make it easier for them to establish themselves. Pot the crowns in a 3″ pot in the same soil you use for the parent plant and water immediately.

Avoid fertilizing for at least 3 months or you’ll most likely burn the sensitive new peace lilies.​

Peace lilies clean your air of many toxins, making them a fantastic houseplant to propagate! Jam them into every area of your living space and give all of the extras to your friends and family — they’ll thank you!

Problems

How to Care For a Peace Lily

Peace lilies are surprisingly easy to care for.

Overall, peace lilies are a resilient houseplant that don’t have much trouble with pests and diseases. However, there are a few key ones to watch out for to keep your plants nice and healthy.

Growing Problems

Yellow leaves indicate too much light, but brown spots are burned areas where direct sunlight hit the leaves.

If your blossoms are green, then you have given your Peace lily too much fertilizer. Reduce it so next season the flowers turn out white.

Pests

Keep pests off by cleaning the leaves regularly. The two that you might get are aphids and mealy bugs.

Aphids are identified by the sticky slime they cover the plant with. Spray your plant with water to get them to fall off, followed by insecticidal soap if they’re still a problem.

For mealy bugs, apply isopropyl alcohol with a cotton ball. If this fails, use insecticidal soap as well.

Diseases

While there are a few rare diseases that affect peace lilies, you’ll most likely run into one of two types of root rot. One of them comes from infected soil, and the other comes from standing, infected water.

To treat root rot, you have to figure out which version your lily plant has. Hint: the most likely culprit is waterborne root rot stemming from watering too often.

Giving the roots a rinse and repotting into a pot with fresh soil will solve both problems.​

FAQs​

Spathiphyllum

Q. I heard I can grow peace lilies indoors under artificial lights, is that true?

A. While they prefer natural light, they can be used in rooms that have no windows at all. They thrive well under fluorescent lighting.​

Q. Can I place my peace lily in a windy area?

A. Peace lilies should be kept out of any drafts or cold air to keep from damaging the plant. They can be misted frequently with warm water and to provide extra moisture, place the pot on top of gravels in the watering dish.​

Q. What should I do with flowers that are dying or dead?

A. Remove any dying or dead flowers, they will take energy away from the plant and cause the new leaves to grow smaller. Remove both the flower and the stalk as far down as you can without damaging the plant.​

Q. All of my blooms have died and my spath isn’t growing new flowers. What to do? 

A. If after the blooms die your peace lily just doesn’t seem to want to bloom again, place it in a darker area for awhile. The period of darkness will trick the plant into thinking it’s had a dormant stage and the blooms will soon start to sprout again!​

Q. Are peace lilies toxic to humans?

A. The sap of the plant contains oxalate crystals and ingestion can cause swelling of the tongue and throat. And, can cause dermatitis or skin irritations in some people. An upset stomach is generally experienced if parts of the plant are ingested. But, it would take a large amount of plant ingestion to cause severe problems.

If you experience skin irritation from contact with the plant sap, thoroughly wash the affected area with warm water and soap. If serious symptoms occur from contact or ingestion, contact your physician.

Q. Are peace lilies toxic for my pets?

A. Rumor has it that peace lilies are poisonous for cats and dogs. While this rumor contains some truth, the peace lily is not deadly for your pets. In fact, the plant contains oxalates that will upset the animal’s stomach and drive them to quit eating the plant after only one bite.


Peace lilies win my award for one of the easiest houseplants to take care of for three reasons:

  1. ​They can tolerate low-light conditions
  2. They show clear feedback when they need water
  3. They recover well, even from infestations

The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:


Kevin Espiritu
Founder

Spathiphyllum is one of the most beautiful houseplants out there. Peace lily care is surprisingly easy - learn everything you need to know here.
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40 thoughts on “Peace Lily Care – How to Grow Spathiphyllum”

    • Peace lilies are VERY sensitive to any sort of contaminants in the water, so I would try using distilled or reverse osmosis water. At the very least carbon-filtered through a Brita or similar product!

  1. I have about 7 plants that I just separatd. I have put them in slightly darker area.and water less. That are growing new leaves but no flowers. ???

    • Peace lilies only flower 2-3x a year, so yours might be in a phase where they’re just putting out more leave to prepare for flowering 🙂

  2. My two peace lillys grow very lush but dont flower very much at all maybe one or two flowers in 3 months! What do I do to get them to flower more?

    • I can’t give you an exact number, but just be careful not to keep the soil too water-logged. A good way to do this is to check every so often and see how moist the soil is, then water when it gets too dry. Pretty soon you’ll figure out the right amount and schedule!

  3. My new growth peace lily leaves keep going black at the tips. I am care ful not to overwater. Do you know if it’s a deficiency of some sort? I have tried repotting & a light seasol but haven’t had any luck.

  4. I have a large peace lily. on the leaves on the very edges it looks like ashes from being burnt and I don’t know what causes this.

    • In order: watering issues (too much, too little), then temperature change (cold makes it black), then a fungus called Phytophthora (keep water off of the leaves).

  5. I have a very old Spath with several separate plants in one large pot. The individual plants are about 24″ high. It has thrived for many years, but over the years, the bottom leaves died and were trimmed off. So, now there are about 2″ or more of “stem stubs” at the bottom of the plant, just above the soil. This has lead to them being top heavy and they tip over if not supported. I would like to (need to!) repot these plants, each in its own pot, but not sure how to proceed. Must I repot at the same soil line and stake the plant, or can I plant lower so the the soil supports the plant. Putting the stem stubs below the soil would support the plant, but would it lead to rot?

    • I would plant a bit lower, but not bury the entire un-leafed stem. You can also choose to cut away a crown from one of yours and propagate it so you can ‘start fresh’ with some stubbier plants too!

  6. We have a large peace lily – about 4’ tall, 3’ wide, that was beautiful until we got a kitten. He thinks it is his own private jungle! I have put skewers sticking up out of the pot so he can’t lay in the middle of it anymore, but am working on helping it to recover. Many of the leaves are broken close to the soil; others are dark and crumbly around the edge. Should I trim some of those, or just be patient?

    • If you have broken or damaged leaves, I find it best to prune those off and hope that the plant recovers. I feel you on the cat – one destroyed mine as well!

  7. I have had one of the very large ones for about a year and it has not grown new leaves at all. There are a couple of new leaves that seem to be coming up but they’ve been like that for more than 6 months. Meanwhile the five large ones are in a somewhat droopy position. I’ve tried everything but I don’t see any improvement. I have it in a corner with a tall lamp and make sure I don’t overwater it. So what am I doing wrong.

    • I’d suggest a repot with fresh potting soil to get a fresh start. I’ve had trouble with them in the same way as you describe and repotting helped quite a bit Nick.

  8. I have a couple of blooms on my Peace Lily turning brown, what reason would this happen? It’s the bud inside of the white flower. Very alarm about this because the Peace Lily is such a beautiful plant. It was gave to me about a couple of months ago by my brother-in-law after my sister-in-law passed. When should I replant it?

    • I have a couple of blooms on my Peace Lily turning brown, what reason would this happen? It’s the bud inside of the white flower. Very alarm about this because the Peace Lily is such a beautiful plant. It was gave to me about a couple of months ago by my brother-in-law after my sister-in-law passed. When should I replant it?

  9. The spikey part in the middle of the peace lily flower has turned brown. On all of the flowers and the white part is turning green. Any ideas why? I’m concerned it a reflexion on the air quality in the room. Coud it be? Thanks!

  10. Please help, I have a very droopy plant and don’t know what to do. This plant means a lot to me due to it was to plant at my Grandfathers funreal this year and my heart is hurting very badly and don’t know what to do to try to save it.

    I beleive I may have overwatered it due to it was off schedule of watering from my other house plants and forgot. Listing to a co-worker she said let it dry completly out and put it in new dirt than water it, which I did. Now it is still very droopy. The leaves are still very dark green it hasn’t turn colors yet, do this mean that it may make it or what.

    Please advise this is tearing me apart it’s like I am hurting my Grandfather. Thanking you in advance for your advise.

  11. We have had a variety of spaths for years; most were purchased many years ago from FL landscape nurseries, but we use them as house plants!
    I have never heard them called peace lilies! Are these really a lily? Why the name peace lily?
    Curious

  12. SO SHOULD I CUT THE BROWNING LEAVES OFF AND HOW FAR DOWN? PLEASE HELP ME BECAUSE I REALLY DON’T WANT THIS PLANT TO DIE!

  13. My peace plant is over 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide! I have it in the biggest pot that I could find anywhere. I am wondering how to split it. Can I just cut it in half and repot it? I love it but I am running out of room. My other question is should I split it while it has flowers or wait for it to go dormant? It has over 30 flowers right now! Thanks for the help.

  14. I have a peace lilly that i love, but the white leaves never re-bloomed after i got in 2007 now my leaves are turning yellow and i water once a week . I have only put actual rain water in the plant for water will i shock it if i put tap water in it? How do i get the white leaves to bloom again, and water in the drip pan is that a sign of too much water? Help please…thanks

  15. The leaves on my peace lily seem to start turning brown shortly after they open. The brown is not just on the tips but can cover the entire leaf. It may begin in the center of a leaf or start along the edge and continues to worsen until the entire leaf is black. What can / should I do?

  16. I found a plant with about two leaves on it that a “moving out” neighbour had left at the curb. I didn’t know what the plant was at the time, but thought I would look it up at some time. The two leaves look healthy enough….the container was broken…very little soil.

    I put what was left of the plant and roots in a fairly small container. To my surprise, within a few months I had a lovely bloom and knew what plant I had. These blooms came on after another and I consistently had lovely blooms. My mother, who loved Peace Lily plants and had one was very envious since she’d had a large one for many years.

    I moved 5 years ago, potted my peace Lily into a larger pot. and one bloom, so I TRULY believe the idea that they like to pot bound, and have thought that was the problem all along.

    Thanks to you people on this site, I am going to try take some little babies off this plant and put them in fairly small pots. I’m really looking forward to some beautiful blooms!!

    Thanks for all the information!!

  17. Is it normal for 2 leaves to grow on the same stem??? Because i think that’s what mine’s doing. It’s still new and has only had one flower that died a while ago.

  18. thank you for the great advice, I have a lovely lilly that is abundant in beautiful leaves but no blooms, now i think I know why….

  19. When the blooms start to turn green, it just means they are spent. (Look at the leaves under the bloom and you may see a white dust — that’s the pollen from the flower.) Take a sharp pair of scissors and cut them off as far down as you can without harming the leaves of the plant and discard.

  20. The blooms on my peace lily are turning a dark green. The same color as the leaves.

    I have never seen a peace lily do this and I don’t know what I am doing wrong. The are white when they bloom and then turn this dark green

  21. My peace lily has had a number of “children” in the ten years I have had it. I now have seven plants not counting a couple I have given away. Lately I see the leaves turning a greyish or beige color. Why is this?

  22. thank you for the info on the peace plant. My Mom passed away in Feb. and someone sent me the plant. It is a beautiful plant. Now I know how to care for it. sincerely, Anna

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