Looking for a houseplant to add to your collection but don’t want to make things too complicated? Peace lilies from the Spathiphyllum genus might be the ideal choice for you. They’re one of my favorite species on the list of houseplants that don’t need sun: their low light demands and simple care make caring for peace lily a breeze.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about caring for peace lily!
|Name(s) (common, scientific)||Peace lily, closet plant, spath lily, Spathiphyllum sp.|
|Recommended lighting||Bright indirect|
|Water||Keep lightly moist|
Peace lily natural habitat
In the tropical regions of Central America, peace lilies can be found growing on the rainforest floor in shadier areas away from direct sunlight.
In the wild, these plants are used to getting consistent moisture. Some of the areas they occur in receive up to 10,000 mm or 400 inches of rain a year!
Caring for peace lily: Light and temperature
As mentioned above, peace lilies prefer hanging out in shadier areas. In fact, a peace lily is an excellent choice for beginners because their lighting needs are so easy to meet. Bright but indirect light is ideal, as direct sun can easily burn the peace lily’s sensitive leaves.
If you want to keep peace lilies in a window that does receive direct sun, just use a sheer curtain to help diffuse the harsh sunlight coming through.
Tip: Peace lilies are sometimes listed as ‘houseplants that can survive in the dark’ or ‘no light houseplants’. Sadly, as inconvenient as it can be, all houseplants need light. A room without a window can’t sustain a peace lily (or any houseplant) unless you opt for artificial lighting!
Since peace lilies originate from Central America, they are exposed to warmer temperatures ranging from 21 to 32°C (70 to 90°F) throughout the year. Luckily, peace lily plants can also thrive indoors. They do well between 18 to 24°C (64 and 75°F), which easily fits into the average home’s temperature.
Do keep in mind that these plants are sensitive to drafts. Be sure to keep yours away from cold spots in your home, like the A/C, if you want it to flourish.
Caring for peace lily: Soil and planting
When it comes to planting, any general all-purpose houseplant soil will do for peace lily indoor care. Just be sure to keep it loose to allow for adequate aeration and drainage.
You can use perlite or bark pieces to help with this. These larger particles allow excess water to flow through easily and ensure the soil doesn’t clump around your peace lily’s roots.
Be sure to always use a planter with a drainage hole for your peace lily. Although it likes its soil lightly moist, it hates wet feet. Root rot is a risk if drainage is not adequate. Standard plastic nursery pots work perfectly and can be used in combination with a nice decorative overpot.
If you’re following all the instructions for caring for your peace lily and it still doesn’t seem to be doing well, it may be time to repot. After all, these plants can become pretty large and might need more space sooner than you think! To more easily remove your peace lily from its container, you can give it some water the night before. This will help loosen the soil between the roots.
When it’s time for the actual peace lily repotting, grip the base of the plant while squeezing the pot to help loosen it. If you give it a tug, the plant should come out. If the roots have grown through the drainage holes on the bottom, you may need to use something sharp to cut away some of the roots to more easily free it. It’s not a problem at all to sacrifice a couple of roots and your plant should be just fine once it has adjusted to its new container.
Did you know? Peace lilies are also prime candidates for (semi-)hydroponic growing. You can read more in the guide to growing peace lily in water.
Watering peace lily
If you’re trying to figure out how often to water peace lily plants, just keep in mind that they originate from very moist rainforest habitats. As mentioned above, though, that doesn’t mean they like their soil to be soaking wet. In fact, overwatering and/or lack of proper drainage can easily lead to root rot even in a water-loving tropical like this.
We can’t tell you exactly how often to water peace lily, as this depends entirely on the time of year, but lightly moist is to way to go. Leave things to dry out a little longer during the winter months when the plant is not actively growing. Water a bit sooner during the rest of the year.
Propagating peace lily
When it comes to propagating peace lily, you’ll be using the division method. Since peace lily plants grow from rhizomes that expand horizontally, all you have to do is cut between the nodes. A single peace lily can be divided into a whole bunch of new plants to give away or keep for yourself.
The easiest time to propagate rhizomatous species like this one is while repotting. Be sure to leave a few clumps of leaves and roots for each portion, and you’ll have several new plants ready to pot up and thrive!
For more information, be sure to have a look at the full peace lily propagation guide.
Peace lily fertilizer
Peace lilies are not heavy feeders and they don’t require too much fertilizer to thrive. If you want to see plenty of new growth in the spring and summer, try using a general-purpose houseplant fertilizer every 4 weeks or so once winter is coming to its end
Although the exact amount and frequency depend on the size of your plant and the conditions it’s growing in, you can fertilize up to once every two weeks during the summer months when the plant is actively growing. Do make sure you dilute the fertilizer, as peace lily roots are sensitive to fertilizer burn.
Buying peace lily
When buying a peace lily, look for a healthy specimen with deep green foliage. There are many varieties with different sizes and foliage, as ‘peace lily’ is a name for the entire genus Spathiphyllum rather than a single species.
The most common variety for sale appears to be Spathiphyllum wallisii, but there are many more. This even includes some variegated cultivars, like the amazing Spathiphyllum ‘Picasso’ and ‘Domino’.
So, be sure to shop around to get exactly what you want. You’ll probably have no trouble finding this species in your local plant store. That being said, if you want access to more varieties, try buying online.
Tip: If you’re buying your peace lily in the spring or summer, you may find plants that have already started to bloom. Although these flowers are gorgeous, they may only last for a couple of months. The plant will likely put off flowering again for a while after the original blooms die off. This way, it can focus on adjusting to its new environment, so be sure to love it for its greenery, too!
Problems with peace lily
There are a few things to keep an eye on with Spathiphyllum that can be indications of trouble. Luckily, most issues with this plant are easy enough to solve if you can identify what you’re dealing with.
- Peace lily: brown tips. If you see brown tips on the leaves of your peace lily, this could be a sign that the plant is getting too much direct sunlight.
Fortunately, an easy fix for this is to move the affected plant away from the window or other light source to prevent future burning. Or, as mentioned earlier, get a thin curtain to offer some protection from the sun’s harshest rays.
- Droopy peace lily. If your peace lily is drooping, that’s a clear sign you’ve gone a little too long without watering it. Once you top the plant off, you’ll see it start to bounce back in as little as an hour. This is actually quite fascinating to watch!
If the leaves are still looking limp after watering, check the plant’s soil. It might have compacted around the roots, making them unable to actually come in contact with the water you’re providing. The plant could also be affected by root rot.
- Peace lily: brown leaves or yellow leaves. If you see brown leaves, yellow leaves or brown tips, this can be related to watering issues. Overwatering is the main culprit, but mineral buildup can be a problem for peace lilies as well. They are a bit sensitive to tap water. If you’re seeing excessive discolored leaves, you might want to start giving the soil a good flush with distilled water once every few months.
If you regularly fertilize your peace lily, also make sure you’re not overusing the product. And alternatively, if you never fertilize, it might be time to provide some fresh soil and/or picking up a bottle of houseplant food!
- Peace lily pests. Nasty critters such as mealybugs will happily take up residence in your plants. Luckily you can help prevent an infestation by regularly wiping down the leaves and doing manual spot checks.
Wiping down the leaves as part of your regular routine while caring for peace lily plants will also help them photosynthesize better, as it removes dust and water spots.
Tip: Because some houseplant enthusiasts do run into trouble with this popular species, I’ve added a full peace lily disease & diagnosis guide to help you figure out where things might be going wrong.
Is peace lily toxic to cats and dogs?
Yes, according to the ASPCA, the peace lily is somewhat toxic to pets (and humans). It is, however, less poisonous than true lilies like the Easter or tiger lily, which can cause kidney failure.
The plant doesn’t contain an actual toxin, but as with various other tropical houseplants, all of its compounds are littered with calcium oxalate crystals. These microscopic crystals are very sharp and can therefore cause irritation in cats, dogs, children and you. Place your peace lily out of curious creatures’ reach and go for a species from the list of safe houseplants instead.
Symptoms of poisoning include: drooling, pawing at the mouth, decreased appetite, and vomiting. If you think your pets have ingested parts of a peace lily, you should consider calling your vet.
Cover photo © john on Adobe Stock.