Pruning a peace lily

Peace Lily Pruning: Tips On How To Prune Peace Lily Plant

Peace lilies are excellent houseplants. They’re easy to care for, they do well in low light, and they’ve been proven by NASA to help purify the air around them. But what do you do when the flowers or even the leaves start to dry up and die? Should peace lilies be pruned? Keep reading to learn more about when and how to prune peace lily plants.

Peace Lily Pruning

Peace lilies are known for their big white bracts, the part we think of as a flower that is actually a modified white leaf surrounding a cluster of tiny flowers on a stalk. After this “flower” has bloomed for a while, it will naturally start to turn green and droop. This is normal, and it just means the flower is spent.

You can clean up the appearance of the plant by deadheading. Peace lilies produce their flowers on stalks that grow up from the base of the plant. Once a stalk has made one flower, it won’t make any more – after the flower fades, the stalk will eventually brown and die as well. Peace lily pruning should be done at the base of the plant. Cut the stalk off as close to the bottom as you can. This will make room for new stalks to emerge.

Pruning a peace lily isn’t limited to the flower stalks. Sometimes leaves yellow and start to shrivel up. This may be due to under watering or too much light, but it can also happen just because of old age. If any of your leaves are turning color or drying out, just cut the offending leaves away at their base. Always disinfect your shears between each cut to prevent the spread of disease.

That’s all there is to pruning peace lilies. Nothing too complicated and a very good way to keep your plants looking healthy and happy.

A long-time favorite of those with a green-thumb and even those without, Spathiphyllum, commonly known as the peace lily, is an adaptable and low-maintenance houseplant. Peace lilies are not true lilies (Lilium spp.) at all, but rather a member of the Araceae family. Its flowers resemble those of the calla lily (both plants belong to the same family) and is the reason for its name. The showy part of the flower features a white, hoodlike sheath (known as a spathe) which resembles a white flag of surrender.

There are a wide variety of sizes and types of peace lilies. Most serve as floor plants since they can reach three feet tall and grow wide with big, bold leaves. Mauna loa supreme (a Spathiphyllum hybrid) is the standard midsize type. It grows up to four feet tall and features bronze-green foliage with an abundance of large, cupped spathes.

It finally got the recognition it deserves from the general public after NASA put it on its list of “Top Ten Household Air Cleaning Plants.” This tropical shade-loving plant helps cleanse the air we breathe. While we all appreciate cleaner, oxygenated air, it’s also the easy peace lily care, resiliency and forgiving nature that makes them such popular houseplants.

Peace Lily Plant Overview

Native primarily to tropical rainforests of America, the peace lily plant is a vibrant and graceful perennial that adds life to any space. The standard peace lily can grow to 24-40 inches and deluxe plants can grow to 32-50 inches.

The white blooms of the peace lily generally appear in the spring as more of a modified leaf, a “bract,” than a multi-petaled flower. Very well cared for plants may bloom again in the fall as well. Blooms last for two months or more and after blooms fade, a period of non-blooming follows. Peace lilies manage just fine in darker quarters such as offices, bedrooms, and hospital rooms. Combine its ease of care with its aide in helping the cleanse the air we breathe, and you can see why the peace lily is such a popular houseplant.

Are Peace Lilies Poisonous to Cats?

Peace lilies are listed by the ASPCA as one of the common houseplants that are poisonous to cats. They contain oxalates which can irritate an animal’s mouth and stomach. Because the irritation begins at first bite, however, the animal stops eating the plant pretty quickly, avoiding severe poisoning. Cats and dogs that ingest peace lily leaves begin to salivate profusely, shake their heads and paw at their mouths.

Since cats are agile creatures known for their curiosity, the best way to protect them from harm is to not own any poisonous plants. You can also pay attention to what sort of plants inspire your cat’s interest, such as trailing vines or bushy plants, and avoid buying those types of plants. Place your plants away from furniture or fixtures that would make them accessible to cats. Finally, you can try a deterrent such as placing mothballs in a small container with holes or sprinkling coffee grounds on the potting soil to keep your cat away.

Are Peace Lilies Poisonous to Dogs?

Keep peace lilies out of the reach of dogs because it’s toxic to them if ingested. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, the calcium oxalate crystals can cause an inflammatory reaction which results in swelling of the mouth, tongue, throat, and upper airway. If your pooch has peace lily poisoning, you should bring your dog to the vet for treatment. Most dogs are discouraged from eating very much of the plant or going after it a second time.

To prevent your dog from eating indoor peace lilies, place the plant out of reach. Use obedience commands to keep your dog away from any peace lilies you may encounter outdoors. If you have them in your yard, it’s best to keep them in a fenced-off portion.

Peace Lily Care Tips

If you’re looking for suggestions on how to care for a peace lily, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to find out more about peace lily care below.

Light: Peace lilies prefer light partial shade, and can tolerate fluorescent lights. In fact, some have been known to thrive in rooms with no windows at all. Yellowing leaves indicate that the light is too strong, and brown leaves or streaks indicate scorching from direct sunlight. Consider placing the plant six to eight feet away from a north- or west-facing window.

Water: If you’re wondering how often to water a peace lily, one tip is to wait for the plant to droop slightly before watering. One of the great advantages in caring for the peace lily is the fact that it sags a bit when it needs water, essentially telling you when it’s thirsty. In general, water at least once a week and keep the soil moist. Throughout the summer growing season, spritz the leaves with soft or distilled water. Water your plant less often in winter.

Even if you you forgot to water for a while and find your plant completely depleted with fronds flat over the pot edge, water and spritz right away. You may be surprised at how quickly the peace lily revives.

Peace lilies can be sensitive to chlorine. If your municipal water system is heavily chlorinated, fill a container with water and then allow it to stand overnight so the chlorine can percolate out before pouring into the peace lily.

Temperatures: The peace lily makes a great house plant because it thrives in the indoor temperatures most people enjoy. It prefers a temperature range of 65-85°F and humid climates. Peace lilies cannot withstand cold drafts or temperatures below 45°F. Its best to keep them indoors most of the year and displayed away from any heating or cooling home appliances.

Toxicity: From the spathiphyllum family, peace lilies aren’t true lilies (Liliaceae) and therefore don’t pack the toxic punch that genuine lilies do. Although, they are poisonous to both cats and dogs alike because they contain calcium oxalate. Peace lilies should be kept away from animals and small children. Being educated about the risks will help you avoid any accidents. Take a look at our poisonous plants guide for more information.

Pests and Problems: Compared to other house plants, the peace lily is relatively immune to insects and diseases. While they can get spider mites, aphids and mealybugs, owners generally keep these pests under control with regular wiping of the leaves. If pests invade, spray plant with insecticidal soap.

Brown leaf tips can stem from everything from over-watering, over-fertilizing and lack of humidity. Learn to follow your plant’s signals. If leaves are browning at the bottom of the plant, it could just mean these older leaves can’t compete with the more rapidly growing younger leaves.

The peace lily wins the “easy” label for four reasons. First, it sags when it needs water and revives quickly after a long drink. Second, it thrives in low light conditions. Third, the peace lily is very resilient. An insect infestation or a few missed waterings may make it wilt and pale, but it bounces back quickly. Finally, with sufficient care and occasional wiping of its leaves, the peace lily doesn’t seem to be the insect magnet that roses and other house plants are.

If you’re ready to give the no-fuss peace lily a go and purify the air you’re breathing, take a look at our offerings here.

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’ source

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

‘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’ 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’ 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’

​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’ 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

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

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​

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
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Peace Lily, Flowers and Foliage for Low-Light Areas

Growing anywhere from one to four feet tall, peace lilies offers homeowners with few lighting options the opportunity to grow a foliage plant that also blooms periodically. It’s readily available at most garden centers, florists and big-box stores, and is usually priced inexpensively. What’s not to love about peace lilies (Spathiphyllum)?

Peace lilies hail from tropical regions in Asia and the Americas, and like many tropical plants, it thrives in low-light conditions. That’s because in its native habitat, it grows as an understory plant, accepting whatever light filters through the canopy overhead. In the home, peace lilies thrive in low-light areas such as a northern window or in a darker corner of an east or west-facing window.

If repotting a peace lily, choose sterile house plant soil to avoid contaminating your house plants with insect pests, whose eggs or larvae may arrive with freshly dug garden soil. Always use a container with drainage holes in the bottom to allow excess moisture to drain away from the plants. A saucer slipped under the pot protects windowsills from water staining. Average, well-drained potting soil is adequate for peace lilies.

Although peace lilies are generally unfussy plants, they are fussy about temperature, and cool temperatures can kill them. Do not let the temperature drop below 60 degrees F or your plant can be damaged or killed. Average household temperatures around 68 degrees F are fine. When transporting peace lilies during the winter, such as the trip from the store to your home, wrap the plant in paper and keep it in a heated car until it’s time to move it indoors.

Water and Fertilizer

Water peace lilies once a week or when the soil is dry to the touch. Peace lilies will begin to droop when their water levels drop, but will quickly revive once given a good drink. Continually allowing your plants to grow thirsty and droop between watering will cause browning or yellowing at the margins of the glossy dark green leaves, however, ruining the beautiful foliage of this house plant, so a regular watering schedule is advised. Do not let the soil get soggy, or the roots can rot. Allow plants to dry out between watering without undue wilting.
Peace lilies don’t need regular fertilizer, but a light application of a balanced liquid house plant fertilizer such as a 20-20-20 is adequate.

Flowering

Many low-light house plants offer interesting foliage, but peace lilies also offer long-lasting blooms. The blossoms begin as a pencil-thin, tightly coiled flower bud that rises slowly from the plant. Immature flowers are a light-green color, but as they begin to unfurl, turn a snow-white color. The flowers stand on rigid stems and resemble calla lilies. They last several weeks and will gradually fade to brown when the plant has finished flowering. Peace lilies can flower many times throughout the year, and often produce multiple blooms at one time. You can encourage your peace lily plant to bloom by letting it get slightly pot-bound. Pot-bound means that the plant has outgrown its current container.

Pests and Diseases

Another positive attribute of peace lilies is their hardiness. They’re troubled by very few house plant pests. Among those that do occasionally strike the hardy peace lily are mealy bugs. These small, oval-shaped insects leave a sticky residue and telltale powder on plants. They can be removed with a strong spray from a kitchen sink sprayer or by placing plants in the shower and letting the shower spray wash them away. Other pests that occasionally bother peace lilies are mites and scales. These can be controlled using traps, such as yellow sticky paper, which attracts bugs by the color and then captures them with a sticky coating. Other control methods include commercial insecticidal soaps and sprays. Follow label directions precisely when using such sprays.
To prevent future infestations, quarantine new plants in a separate room for up to two weeks before moving them near other plants. This will give you time to examine your new purchases for insects and treat the plant before it has time to infect others in your collection.

Special Attributes of the Peace Lily

Peace lilies are versatile, long-lived flowering low-light house plants. In addition to these marvelous attributes, NASA has conducted experiments using peace lilies and found that they filter harmful chemicals from the air. In fact, peace lilies scrub nearly all harmful chemicals included in the NASA study from the air, including benzene, xylene, toluene, trichloroethylene, and ammonia. Many office buildings include peace lilies in the lobbies and office space to counteract chemicals released by building materials, copiers and printers, for example.

Toxicity for Pets

Peace lily is mildly toxic to dogs and cats who chew the leaves. The leaves contain calcium oxalate crystals, which can irritate the lining of the mouth, esophagus and stomach. If you have any questions about whether or not you should have a peace lily plant around your pets, ask your pet’s veterinarian for advice.

Adding Peace Lily to the Home

For low-light areas, northern-facing windows, offices and dark corners of the home, peace lilies offer glossy green foliage, bright white flowers, and a cheerful bit of nature for the indoors. It’s a versatile plant that thrives where another falters, and a plant that cleans the air as it beautifies its surroundings.

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