Peace lilies from the genus Spathiphyllum are immensely popular houseplants. Not surprising, given their lovely white flowers and low light needs. A peace lily can be grown by a beginning houseplant enthusiast, but that doesn’t mean you can’t run into issues. For starters, they’re considered drama queens when it comes to water, ‘fainting’ by drooping their leaves as soon as moisture levels get too low.
If your peace lily is dying or doesn’t seem to be doing well but you don’t know what’s going on, keep reading. We’ll discuss 7 common problems with peace lilies, their solution and prevention below!
Did you reach this page looking for information about caring for a peace lily? This guide only goes into possible problems and diagnoses. For info on light, potting, watering and more, head to the peace lily care guide instead.
Brown tips on peace lily
Problem: Brown leaf tips
Causes: Tap water, fertilizer issues, watering issues
Probably the absolute most common problem would be brown tips on peace lily. It seems Spathiphyllums are just very prone to developing this issue, which is a pity as it does affect their aesthetic.
Brown tips on peace lily aren’t necessarily something to be too concerned about, especially if it’s only a few of the lower leaves. It can be an indication that something is bothering your plant, though, so let’s go into the possible causes.
- Tap water. If your water contains chlorine/chloramines, is on the hard side or just low-quality, this can affect some of your houseplants more than others. Peace lilies are among the species that seem more prone to developing problems. Regularly flush the soil with distilled water to prevent mineral build-up.
- Fertilizer burn. Similar to what happens if minerals and salts from tap water build up, if you overfertilize, this can also cause brown tips on peace lily. The solution is the same: flush with distilled water. Don’t forget to stop fertilizing during winter!
- Natural leaf replacement. Leaves at the bottom of your plant will go brown and die off eventually, starting with the tips. If it’s not happening at an alarming rate, your plant just doesn’t need them anymore!
- Over- or underwatering. Although these tend to result in the loss of entire leaves, they are associated with brown tips on peace lily as well. Check whether the soil stays too soggy or gets too dry.
Peace lily is drooping
Problem: Wilted leaves
Causes: Thirst due to lack of water or root problems
If your peace lily is drooping, congrats: you just discovered why these plants are so often referred to as drama queens! They make sure to let you know when they’re thirsty, so give your peace lily a drink and watch it perk back up.
But what if you just watered and your peace lily is still drooping? This often means water isn’t reaching the roots for some reason:
- The soil has compacted. Water doesn’t actually reach the roots if this happens, it just flows around the edges of the pot and out the drainage hole. Aerate houseplant soil regularly by gently loosening and poking it with a chopstick.
- You’ve been overwatering. Yes, overwatering can cause symptoms of underwatering! If the soil is waterlogged but the plant is drooping, you need to uproot it and take action. Its roots may be rotting, causing them to be unable to take up water. All rotting bits have to go!
- You recently repotted. When we repot a houseplant, we damage delicate hair roots, even if we try to be careful. Your peace lily can droop for a while after a repot while it focuses on roots instead of foliage. It might also abandon a few leaves, which will turn yellow and/or brown.
Brown leaves on peace lily
Problem: Foliage browning
Causes: Varied, but overwatering is the most common cause of problems in general
Okay folks, are you ready for the most ambiguous problem? Peace lily leaves browning can happen for a very wide variety of reasons. In fact, almost any problem can cause browning, including all of the ones discussed in the section on brown tips on peace lily.
It can be a bit difficult to figure out what you’re dealing with. In a lot of cases, it’s handy to look for other symptoms that might be a clearer indication of what’s really going on.
- Mineral build-up. This can happen due to the use of hard water or fertilizer, as we discussed earlier. The cure is always the same: flushing the soil with distilled water.
- Overwatering. Probably the prime cause of death for the majority of houseplants, including peace lilies. Their soil should be lightly moist, but never wet. The planter should always have a drainage hole. Another symptom of overwatering would be yellowing leaves, but not necessarily crispy ones.
Overwatering can cause root rot and eventually turn an entire plant to snot. If you feel this might be happening, you need to take action. Take your peace lily out of its planter, trim all affected roots, dip the remainder in 3% hydrogen peroxide and plant back into dry soil. With some luck, this stops the bacterial or fungal issue from spreading.
- Underwatering. I’d expect a lot of wilt and eventual brown crispy leaves on an underwatered peace lily. If you’ve been watering normally, check the instructions in the paragraph on peace lily drooping, as water might not be reaching the roots.
Sunburn can also cause browning, but it’s more commonly associated with blackening.
Peace lily leaves turning black
Problem: Blackening foliage
Causes: Sunburn, cold, underwatering, overwatering, infection
- Leaf burn. Although houseplants can generally take about as much light as you can give them indoors, peace lilies are among the more fussy ones. They do love plenty of light, but direct sun can be too much for them, especially without acclimation.
If your peace lily got burned and shows black or faded brown leaves, there’s nothing you can do. Just adjust it to higher light more gradually next time and wait for fresh green foliage to pop up.
- Cold exposure. On the other end of the spectrum, peace lily leaves will also turn black after having been exposed to excessive cold. This can happen if your plant is close to a drafty window or if you left it outside just a little too long in the fall season.
Cold can wipe out an entire plant in one night, but even in cases where it’s pretty far gone, give your peace lily a chance. Place it in a warm and light spot, keeping the soil lightly moist, to see if any new growth pops up.
- Underwatering. After my own peace lily suffered an underwatering incident with a plant sitter, the leaves turned partially very dark brown-black (mixed with yellow). If you’ve been seeing drooping as well and you haven’t watered in a while, or not consistently, this is probably what happened.
Your peace lily will likely bounce back, but the blackened leaves will not recover.
- Fungus/bacterial infection. Although a pathogen can enter your peace lily’s soil before you even buy it, infections causing rot are most often associated with overwatering. Yep, good old overwatering again! Leaves can turn black or show black spots, often mixed with yellowing.
As always, remove any afflicted roots and foliage and repot into dry soil. In this case, you might also want to use a fungicide.
Yellow leaves on peace lily
Problem: Foliage yellowing
Causes: Underwatering, overwatering, nutrient deficiency
- Underwatering. That’s been my personal experience with yellow leaves on peace lilies! I found they tended to yellow and brown-blacken after an episode of the plant being forgotten. The plant itself will usually perk back up, but some leaves will likely have to be written off.
- Overwatering. Yeah, sorry. This one again! Overwatering can cause yellow leaves on peace lily. Check whether the soil stays moist too long and consider whether you’ve added enough drainage.
- Lack of nutrients. If you haven’t repotted or fertilized your peace lily in a while and you’ve ruled out watering issues, might it be time for some nutrients? Repot if it’s been a very long time or apply some diluted liquid houseplant food.
Yellowing also commonly happens to leaves that the plant is just ready to get rid of. If you see one or two yellow leaves on a peace lily that’s otherwise growing well, there’s usually no reason to be concerned.
Peace lily flowers dying
Problem: Flowers wilting
Causes: Normal life cycle, varied
If you bought your peace lily for those wonderful white flowers, it can be pretty disappointing when they start to die off. And concerning, too! Luckily, in most cases, it’s just a matter of time before they return.
Here’s what might be going on:
- You just bought your plant. Peace lily flowers dying shortly after (within a few weeks) of buying the plant is usually not a cause for concern. Plants really don’t like being moved and your peace lily might be getting rid of its flowers to focus on adjusting.
- Blooming season is over. Although plants indoors don’t tend to have very set blooming times, most Spathiphyllums do start to flower in spring and possibly also in fall. Peace lily flowers dying during winter is pretty normal and you might have to wait until spring for them to return.
- Any of the above. Plants will drop their flowers when they’re stressed, so any of the issues mentioned in the rest of this article can cause flower loss in addition to their other symptoms. Your best bet is to look at the leaves as well and see if they give any indications that can narrow it down. As always, review your watering schedule first.
Peace lily flowers turning green
Problem: Flowers losing white color
Causes: Normal, lighting
This is one that has puzzled many plant enthusiasts! What could cause green coloration on a plant that’s supposed to bloom white?
Peace lily flowers turning green after having been white before is usually just part of the normal peace lily flower life cycle. They start out greenish, turn white and then go green again at the end. No worries: just take good care of your peace lily and it’ll flower for you again.
If your peace lily’s flowers are coming out green and never turning white, this can be a sign you’re giving your plant a lot of light. If you find the green color bothersome, you can move your peace lily to a slightly more shaded spot. Do keep in mind that the foliage growth won’t be as abundant with less light!
Lastly, green flowers on peace lily are associated with overfertilizing. If you think this may be the case, look for brown leaf tips, which are also a symptom. You might have to flush the soil with some distilled water to remove some of the excess nutrients.
Although it’s not always easy to identify problems with your houseplants, hopefully this guide has given you somewhat of an indication of what might be going on with your peace lily.
Just to reiterate: it’s usually a watering issue. In many cases it’s also something that doesn’t warrant any stress, like natural leaf loss. Your plant unfortunately won’t look as perfect in your home as it does in the perfect conditions of a nursery. As you’ve seen in the photos in this article, even a houseplant blogger’s peace lilies don’t look perfect. Some people actually prefer to grow peace lily in water because they just can’t find that watering ‘sweet spot’.
If you’re still having trouble figuring out where things are going wrong, try going over the peace lily care guide. Check that you’re following all the care guidelines, and if you’re not, adjust! Lastly, don’t worry too much if your plant dies. Peace lilies are cheap and at least you learned something.
Do remember that it’s very difficult for someone on the internet to diagnose your plant! You know the conditions it’s growing in, so you’re better suited to figuring it out than anyone else.