Peace lily leaves browning

Brown Peace Lily Tips – Reasons For Peace Lilies Getting Brown Tips

Peace lilies have green leaves and lovely flowers, which are slender, graceful and the color of porcelain. If you see your peace lily getting brown tips on its leaves, it’s time to review the care you are giving them. Generally, brown tips on peace lily leaves means the owner made mistakes in providing care. Read on for information about what causes a peace lily with brown tips on its leaves.

Reasons for Brown Peace Lily Tips

In a healthy peace lily, the stalks bearing the beautiful lily-like flowers emerge from a mounding mass of glossy green leaves. If you see brown tips on peace lily leaves, review your cultural care immediately. Brown peace lily tips almost always result from improper care. Every species of houseplant has its own requirements for essentials like water, fertilizer, sun and soil. If you get any one aspect wrong, the plant will suffer.

Irrigation problem – The most likely reason for brown tips on peace lily leaves is irrigation, either too much or too little. Generally, experts recommend that you wait until the lily wilts slightly before watering it.

When you give the plant too little water, the leaf tips may turn brown. For example, if you wait until the lily is deeply wilted instead of just slightly wilted to provide water, brown peace lily tips are the likely consequence. But the opposite extreme, watering so frequently that the soil is soggy, is equally bad for the plant. Curiously, it causes the same symptom: peace lily with brown tips on its leaves.

Humidity – These plants appreciate warm, wet environments. In fact, you should keep the plant on a large saucer filled with pebbles and water to provide the humidity it craves. If you don’t do this, the peace lily may still be okay. But if you place it in the path of a heat vent, it isn’t likely to pass through unscathed. You are likely to see leaf damage in the form of peace lilies getting brown tips.

Fertilizer and/or salt – Excess fertilizer also causes brown leaf tips on peace lilies. Only feed your lily once every few months. Even then, dilute the solution until it is quite weak.

Salt in the water can also cause brown tips on peace lily leaves. If you suspect your water has a high salt content, use distilled water to irrigate.

Brown Tips On Leaves Of A Peace Lily – Knowledgebase Question

It’s typical for flowering plants to have dormant rest periods. However, peace lilies are often hesitant to flower once they are brought indoors, from being pampered in a warm, humid greenhouse. This plant needs to be kept evenly moist, but not too wet. It thrives in indirect light–they can get some direct sunlight but should not be left in the bright sun all day. In fact, one of their best features is that they don’t require lots of sun, and so are common office plants.
It’s quite common to have those dry ends on the leaves. Often with houseplants, it’s a sign of overwatering, but with peace lilies, as you might know, it’s a little harder. You can’t let them dry out–if you do, they will wilt dramatically–they will collapse to the floor and look dead. Another possibility is salt burn. Salts in the water and in fertilizer build up over time. Browning usually occurs on the old leaves first. This excess salt accumulates in the leaf edges, where it kills the tissue and the leaf dries out and turns brown. It’s important to water deeply and slowly. At least once a month, water deeply enough to “leach” or push salts well below the root zone. Frequent, light “sprinklings” allow salts to accumulate in the top layers of soil, where the roots are, which is bad news. Similar symptoms occur when too much fertilizer has been applied. Always water plants thoroughly before and after applying fertilizer to help prevent burn.
Also, if plants are in too much direct sunlight, foliage can yellow and then turn brown, as it is basically “burning.”
I’d start by flushing your plant with water under a hose or faucet and let the water run out the bottom to leach away possible salts. Then examine the plant’s environment for appropriate lighting and watering. I’d hold off on fertilizer for a month to see if there’s any improvement. Fertilizer “forces” a plant to grow, which can be stressful if the plant isn’t healthy.
When you do fertilize, use a fertilizer higher in phosphorous (the middle number) to promote bloom.

Does your peace lily have brown tips? That question is a popular one we receive daily. It usually goes something like the one below from Sandra.

Question: I have brown tips on my peace lily plant (Spathiphyllum). In fact, many of my plants seem to have or get brown tips. Can you tell me why? Sandra

Answer: Sandra, your question or condition is not an unusual one. It is one question we get many times. There are many reasons why tips turn brown on peace lily and many houseplants in general like bamboo palm, Dragon Tree Dracaena, and spider plants.

  • Houseplant Fertilizer – more correctly – over fertilizing causing salts to burn.
  • Excess water or over-watering and under-watering
  • Pests – (I prefer natural pesticides for control)

or a combination of these factors and others. Throw into the mix the different varieties and it gets very confusing on why many indoor plants get brown tips.

Did you know the Peace Lily or Spathiphyllum is a great plant along with the mother-in-law tongue (aka snake plant) for a healthier home and cleaning indoor air?

Peace Lily Varieties Grown for Flowers

Today, many varieties of spathiphyllum are grown for the abundance of flowers they produce. Others, for the large floor plants they become and look beautiful without flowers.

But flowers come at some expense. The cost? Nutrients going to the flowers do not go to the plant. When plants hold a lot of foliage, they may require more water to support the foliage.

You may notice lighter colored leaves and if the plants dry out too much you can get browning tips.

The older leaves at the bottom… If that is where the brown tips are occurring. The leaves are not “pulling” food the same way, new rapidly growing leaves do. Brown tips and leaf loss, in this case, may be natural.

Peace Lily Foliage Varieties

What about varieties grown more for foliage like Lynise, Supreme and Sensation. These plants usually grow in 10″ – inch and larger pots, but may present the same problem in looks, but for a different cause.

In the nursery, these plants are watered and fertilized on a regular basis. They may be watered every day or every other day. All of a sudden the plant is shipped to a nursery or garden center where it does not receive the same treatment and care.

They may get less water and the fertilizers (salts) which remain in the pot become more concentrated. This higher concentration due to reduced moisture and can cause burning the roots.

Speaking of under-watering, there are two ways (and probably more) to do this.

The first is just not watering the plant enough and allowing the plant to wilt down before watering. A little droop may be OK, but not laying on the ground. I will admit this is rarely the case with house owners.

The second method is what I’ll term “fake watering.” We think we water but we really don’t.

This occurs when the soil dries out, the soil may even be pulling away from the pot and the plant is re-watered. The water will take the path of least resistance and heads to the bottom of the pot.

The soil may become moist in areas but the root ball or soil mass doesn’t become sufficiently moist. It may be moist enough to let the plant perk up but the soil is still too dry.

Again, this can be the salts burning the roots or the plant protecting itself by reducing the amount of foliage it needs to support.

  • Peace Lily with Light Brown Tips
  • Peace Lily leaves turning brown
  • Peace Lily leaves turning black
  • Peace Lily with flowers turning brown
  • Or all the above!

Homeowners & Peace Lily Brown Leaves

Let’s look at each of the three items mentioned at the beginning of the article to help you determine what could be causing the peace lily brown tips. This could be a sign of what is to come or the result of one or all three situations.

Houseplant Fertilizer

We briefly discussed fertilizer and how the salts can cause the brown or burning tips. Most indoor plants you purchase at the nursery or garden center come “equipped” with enough fertilizer in the soil to provide for the plant for a long time.

Once the plant arrives at its new home – the light will be reduced, water needs reduced and therefore the need for “feeding” reduced. The plant will also undergo some acclimating. Some leaf drop may occur as the plant now has less light to support all the leaves.

The first place to start reducing the conditions to promote brown tips is to STOP FERTILIZING your plants. Wait a while before starting any type of fertilizing – I recommend 6 months to a year.

If you are going to fertilize using a liquid feed do it correctly.

Here’s how to do it. Copy the way it’s done at the nursery using these steps.

  • Thoroughly water the plant
  • I take a 5-gallon bucket filled about 1/3 full with water and completely submerge the entire root ball, pot soil and all. Add more water if needed.
  • Soak the root ball until no more bubbles come to the surface.
  • Remove the plant from the bucket and allow all the water to drain off through the drainage hole.

Now your plant is completely and thoroughly watered. Every third or fourth watering repeat the process but add a water-soluble balanced fertilizer to the water at 1/4 to 1/3 strength after thoroughly watering.

Excess Water or Over-Watering and Under-Watering

You’ll notice in the watering example above the plant was thoroughly watered and the excess water drained off. Many homeowners continue to water their houseplants and the water collects at the bottom of the pot.

The root system cannot use all the water provided. The roots may be swimming in water and over time the roots begin to experience root rot. The plant responds first with some brown tips alerting you of some potential stress issues the plant is undergoing.

Less roots mean less leaves, and the plant will usually begin by losing the oldest leaves first. If not addressed more root rot occurs, the plant begins to lose leaves and some basal rot sets in and the whole plant falls apart.

Water thoroughly, make sure the drainage holes are not covered and DO NOT allow the plant to sit in a puddle of water. This is why sub-irrigation planters work so well.

Under-watering puts stress on the plant as the roots need the water to support the foliage above the soil line. When plants do not receive enough water they respond by reducing the amount of leaves they can support.

When plants go through a repeated under-watering cycle the result begins with brown tips.

Pest and Disease

Pest such as spider mites can suck the juices out of your plants and reduce their vigor. The pest issue begins to show up with the foliage having an almost grayish look and tips begin to brown. The root system may be fine but what’s happening above the soil line is where the problem lies.

Excess Heat

Too much heat is another possibility. You may be asking yourself how can I have too much heat, it’s 72 degrees in the house.

That may be true but a plant sitting next to the window can be heating up more than you realize. We all have hot and cold spots indoors.

Why do I have brown tips on my Spathphyllum? There are many reasons!!!

Plants are great communicators and they really re-act in ways that we can understand if we stop and look at the situation.

Plants may not tell us what is wrong BUT they do tell us to LOOK something is wrong.

When you’re looking for answers to WHY, on your plants, ask some questions.

I find many times that it is the little things that we may not pay attention to that have caused the problems.

Did anything change in the Peace Lily environment?

Something as simple as – Yes we opened the house up after a long winter to air things out. The temperature was still a little cool but a light sweater was all I needed. Did the plants get a sweater?

  • Did you move the plant?
  • Has the watering changed?
  • Is the plant new and getting acclimated?
  • What is the root system like?
  • What variety is it?
  • Is the plant actively growing? Putting out new leaves with good color.

ALL valid questions.

Don’t assume that because you have some brown tips that your plant may need to be repotted or need fertilizer. It may be just the opposite. Another question we get all the time is: why does my peace lily not flower – that’s another topic altogether.

  • Pin
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email


Oh, the problems of the Peace Lily. Yellow leaves turning black, brown spots appearing, and leaves wilting and drooping because you can’t get them to drink enough water.

Or, at least that’s what you think the problem is. There’s actually a few things that contribute to the leaves of peace lilies turning yellow and paling in color before that.

Spot the paling leaves early enough, and you can rectify the problems before the leaves turn yellow. If you don’t, they will need to be trimmed because once yellow, they will never regain their dark green foliage.

Gardeners make it appear so easy to grow the gorgeous peace lily as a houseplant. You try and what happens? All sorts of problems start appearing. You fix one issue, another appears.

The Simplified Approach to Caring for a Peace Lily Indoors

To state the obvious, a peace lily with yellow leaves is a problem. The natural leaf color should be a dark green shade. The instant the dark green color fades is when to start looking at what’s going wrong with the growing conditions.

Possible causes of yellowing leaves on a peace lily grown indoors include:

1 – Sunburn

Peace lilies don’t need much direct sunlight to grow. They do plenty well in shadier spots. Too much direct sunlight burns the leaves and that’s why they turn yellow.

Peace lily + yellow leaves = sunburn.

If the plant is left in the same stressful growing climate, the problem gets worse causing the yellow leaves to wilt/droop until they’ll eventually just drop off the plant – dead.

2 – Soil Problems

For a peace lily grown as a houseplant, the soil needs to be kept moist, yet at the same time, using a well-draining soil.

Win the watering battle by feeding your peace lily when it tells you it needs a drink. Generally, you only need to water it once a week and when that time comes, the leaves will sag slightly. Not terribly wilted, but a slight sag on them and that’s when they need a drink. Just as they’re beginning to droop (see some other causes of drooping).

Pay attention to how often it wilts because when it happens every three to four days, chances are, it needs a bigger pot. But, check the drainage holes of the plant pot first because it is possible those can get clogged causing the plant to be sitting in standing water.

The soil to use should be well draining and when you do water it, pour the water into the soil until you see it pour out of the drainage holes so you know it’s had a good soaking. That’s enough to keep the soil moist for up to a week.

3 – Water Issues

If it’s not your watering frequency that’s the problem, it can be the type of water you use. Tap water, as you may know, has many additives in it and a lot of those are not good for plants (or human consumption).

You should always use filtered water for peace lilies because anything they don’t like, they let you know by throwing a hissy fit turning all shades of the wrong colors.

The main concern with tap water is calcium. Too much will cause leaf discoloration including yellowing, brown spots and in the worst case – blackening of the leaves.

If your peace lily’s leaves have brown spots, check the base of the plant pot drainage holes for white speckles. These are mineral deposits from harsh water chemicals.

If those are present, use bottled water to flush the soil getting rid of the mineral build up. Trim the ruined leaves off and go back to watering as usual, only this time with filtered water.

4 – Sometimes, the Yellowing Is Just Natural

Don’t mistake the bottom leaves on a peace lily turning yellow as a sign of inadequate watering. The bottom leaves will naturally turn yellow.

They’re the first ones the plant kills off, which is why the top leaves are the lush dark green with what should be plenty of blooms.

Pruning Yellow Leaves on a Peace Lily

Once the leaves on a peace lily turn yellow, no matter what you do, they’ll never turn green again. What they will do is develop brown spots first, then eventually the leaves start turning black, at which point they’re dead and fall off.

Do yourself and the rest of your plant’s leaves a favor and snip off every yellow leaf on the plant to give it a fighting chance of developing fresh green foliage.

You’ll notice the darker leaves toward the base of the plant tend to turn yellow, then brown and die. This is natural and the leaves closer to the base of the plant do need more regular pruning.

What we see as a single flower on a peace lily is actually a cluster of tiny flowers attached to one big white leaf. Each stalk on a peace lily can only flower once. Once it’s spent, it starts to turn green and wilt, at which point they’re spent flowers.

The stalk has done its job and the entire stalk is then useless because it only flowers once. Once the flower starts to turn from white to green and wilt, prune it from the base of the plant.

If you only trim the tip of the stalk, the leaves at the base of the plant will naturally turn yellow and die. This is just the plant’s way of killing off spent stalks.

If the only yellow leaves or brown leaves are at the base of the plant and the flower at the top of the stalk is spent, there’s nothing wrong. Just prune off the discolored leaves to let a new stalk grow in.

Fertilizing Peace Lilies

Peace lily’s prefer half strength fertilizer that’s either 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 formulas. They only need fertilizer added every 6-8 weeks.

However, if you’re growing these indoors, there’s a much easier alternative that some have described as “steroids for houseplants.”

That’s using Miracle Grow’s indoor plant food spike sticks. They last for up to two months and all you need to do is poke a stick into the plant soil and leave it there.

These things work wonders for getting tremendous blooms from peace lilies and since it’s stick and forget, it’s a pretty fool proof way to add all the micronutrients a peace lily needs to thrive, without having to mix half strength fertilizer solutions.

You can always get creative and make your own fertilizer as well.

The Humidity Requirements for a Peace Lily

When the leaves of your peace lily only show brown edges instead of entire browning across the leaves, that’s a sign of a humidity problem.

To increase the humidity, you can use a pebble tray instead of just parking your peace lily on a saucer so as the water evaporates, the humidity rises to moisten the leaves. With a humidity tray under the plant, you won’t need to mist the leaves as often.

While peace lilies don’t need watering too frequently, without a humidifier or a humidity tray, you’ll likely need to mist the plants leaves two to three times daily when humidity is low.

Ideally, humidity should be above 50% relative humidity. When it’s not, the plant won’t bloom as you’d expect it to.

  • Pin
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email

19shares 4 Possible Cause of a Peace Lily with Yellow Leaves (Plus the Fixes) was last modified: November 18th, 2019 by The Practical Planter

Can this peace lily be saved?

Peace Lilies can be very melodramatic when it comes to a watering schedule. Even when the plant is drooping all over the place, it can often be saved.

The drooping leaves indicates that it’s not getting enough water. This can be caused by three things:

1. The soil is not moist

If the soil is not moist, then water until water comes out of the bottom of the pot, and let sit for 24 hours.

2. The soil is not aerated

Roots actually require air in order to absorb water. If your pot does not have a hole at the bottom for water to drain out of, then the water will pool around the roots, and as strange as it sounds, drown them. The best pots, in my opinion, are the ones that have a hole at the bottom, and a small saucer to catch over flowing water. This keeps your floor clean, and your soil healthy.

Before you repot, you can take a skewer, hard plastic drinking straw, or pen, and just stab them deep into the soil to aerate it a bit. This’ll temporarily revive a plant that isn’t getting enough oxygen in the soil, and allow you to analyze the conditions further. For example, if it seems to be more root than soil, your plant is rootbound. If there are puddle of water, it’s drowning. If there is soggy, brown, stringy bits, then it probably has root rot.

3. The roots are dying, and cannot take up water

If your plant has root rot, then when you remove it from the pot, and gently soak the roots, many of them will be brown, wilted, and dying. Generally, if a plant has root rot, it’s going to be more difficult to save than it is to get a new one. However, I know that peace lilies are common gifts at funerals, and if this is the case it may not be replaceable. You can cut off all of the brown rotting materials, or anything fuzzy, soak the roots in warm water for a few minutes, and repot the plant. Root rot is commonly caused by overwatering, or standing water.

If your plant is rootbound, then you’ll see more root than soil, and big thick white/tan roots. If it’s rootbound, it just needs a bigger pot, and to have the outer roots broken. Typically, you just kindof rub the outside of the pot shaped soil, and poke it with your fingers, until it’s no longer pot shaped.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *