15 Common Problems With Peace Lily Plants
If your peace lily looks a bit droopy, there's a good chance that there's a problem with your plant. Peace lilies can fall victim to many different and quite common problems. In this article, Gardening expert and houseplant enthusiast Madison Moulton examines some of the most common peace lily problems and how to fix them!
Often given as gifts or chosen by new houseplant growers as their first specimen, Peace Lilies are one of the easiest houseplants to grow and care for. Their pretty white flowers bloom for several months and they do not require direct sunlight.
However, this positive reputation can lead some to believe they won’t encounter any problems with growth, which unfortunately is not the case. Though they can tolerate some neglect, it is still vital to offer your Peace Lily appropriate growing conditions in order for it to flourish. Neglect, poor lighting, and improper watering can lead to a number of problems.
There are many common Peace Lily problems you may encounter in the lifespan of your plant. However, they are most easily avoidable and able to be fixed if you follow the below guide. Let’s take a look at 15 common problems and the preventative steps to stop them from plaguing your Peace Lilies.
- 1 Solid Yellow Leaves
- 2 Spotted Yellow Leaves
- 3 Brown Spots On Leaves
- 4 Brown Leaf Tips
- 5 Black Leaves
- 6 Wilting Leaves
- 7 Curling Leaves
- 8 Lack of New Leaves
- 9 Lack of Flowers
- 10 Green Flowers
- 11 Brown Flowers
- 12 Stunted Growth
- 13 Mushy Stems
- 14 White Powder On Leaves
- 15 Mold On Soil Surface
- 16 Final Thoughts
Solid Yellow Leaves
First on the list is one problem almost every Peace Lily owner will face at some point – yellow leaves. Unfortunately, it is also difficult to resolve because there are so many causes. However, with an awareness of your level of care and which problem is more likely, you should be able to fix it in no time.
Like many houseplant problems, it’s usually a mistake caused by overwatering. Peace Lilies prefer moist soil, but it cannot be soggy or waterlogged. This will cause the roots to become mushy, stopping them from drawing up any more water or nutrients. Leaves slowly turn yellow one by one, eventually taking over the whole plant if the problem is not resolved.
To make matters more confusing, underwatering can also cause yellow leaves, although this is also usually accompanied by browning tips. Recent repotting, cold drafts, and overfertilizing can also cause leaves to turn completely yellow.
One cause you don’t need to worry about is the age of the plant. Over time, some leaves will turn yellow and fall off the plant. As long as it’s only one or two or the oldest leaves, there is nothing to fix.
Spotted Yellow Leaves
The leaves may not always turn completely yellow. Sometimes, the yellowing may be spotted and irregular, giving you a better clue as to what the problem is.
If the spots appear mottled, with combinations of yellow and light green, you likely have a case of chlorosis on your hands. Although uncommon, this could happen if you’ve kept your Peace Lily in the same pot for several years without fertilizing or refreshing the soil.
The color change is caused by a lack of chlorophyll in the leaves due to a nutrient deficiency. Fertilizing with a balanced liquid fertilizer that includes the required micronutrients should resolve the issue.
Small and circular yellow spots are usually signs of a pest problem. Any sap-sucking pests like mealybugs or thrips can leave yellow spots where they land. Take a look at the underside of the leaves to identify the pest and remove it with neem oil.
Brown Spots On Leaves
Brown spots can show up on the leaves for a few reasons, the most common of which is sunburn. These plants cannot handle direct sunlight and grow better in lower lighting conditions due to their thin and sensitive leaves. If left in direct sun for even a few hours, the leaves may develop large brown patches on the side exposed to the sun.
Much like yellow spots, pests can also cause smaller brown spots on the leaves. These usually appear yellow at first and slowly turn brown and shriveled as they begin to die off.
These spots can also spread and become larger if the problematic pests are not removed. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil as soon as you can to stop the spread.
Brown Leaf Tips
Leaves turning brown at the tips are incredibly common in Peace Lilies and relate to a moisture issue. The most likely cause is underwatering. These plants need consistently moist (but not waterlogged) soil and love water more than most other houseplants.
Just a few missed waterings will cause the tips of the leaves to brown and crisp due to lack of moisture, never returning to their previous green color. Be sure to water at least once a week and use well-draining soil.
Although less common, lack of humidity can also be the cause. These tropical houseplants love high humidity and need a humidity of above at least 40% at minimum to thrive. This means you should consider keeping them in a moist place, like a restroom
If the air in your home is excessively dry, the tips will continue to turn brown until conditions are improved. Place the plant on a tray filled with pebbles and water or use a humidifier to stop the problem from spreading.
Black leaves are slightly more concerning than the crispy browning leaves many Peace Lily owners are used to. This drastic change in color usually indicates a serious problem, either with pests, diseases, or excess fertilizer.
Peace Lilies are susceptible to a few fungal and bacterial diseases. Several of these can lead to black spots developing on the leaves, particularly in the case of leaf blight. If not resolved immediately, these spots will only grow and spread until your entire plant is infected. Quarantine any infected plants and prune away problematic areas until spots stop forming.
Pest damage can also cause black spots on leaves, although these are usually smaller and more circular. Again, the solution starts with pruning the affected leaves and quarantining the plant. Apply neem oil in regular intervals until all signs of infestation are gone.
Excessive use of fertilizer is another cause of black leaves. Many indoor gardeners have good intentions when fertilizing, aiming to resolve growth issues or make their plants healthier or grow faster.
Unfortunately, applying more fertilizer than what is required usually has the opposite effect. A build-up of salts in the soil burns the roots and leaves, causing them to turn black in patches.
Only fertilize when necessary as recommended on the packaging and never apply more. If you have overfertilized, flush the soil with water until it runs clear and hold off for the next couple of months to allow the plant to recover.
Due to their thin, delicate leaves, you’re quite likely to find your plant wilting at some point. More often than not, the cause of wilting is underwatering. Dry soil for even a short period will cause the leaves to droop due to lack of moisture in the cells, eventually turning yellow and brown. After a quick watering, the plant should return to normal.
The opposite issue could also be the cause. Plants experiencing root rot after overwatering also begin to wilt as the roots stop drawing up any moisture. Simply assess the levels of moisture in the soil to determine if this issue is likely.
Thankfully, if you catch the problem soon, it can be reversed. If you encounter root rot, repot immediately and trim off all damaged roots to stop the problem from spreading.
Another issue caused by underwatering, curling occurs when the cells lack moisture. As they are unable to hold the plant up anymore, the leaves begin to droop and curl in different directions, changing their shape. Completely saturate the soil by watering from the bottom and the leaves should return to normal.
Sunlight exposure can also cause the leaves to curl. As Peace Lilies cannot handle direct sunlight, they respond to excessive exposure by curling inwards to conserve moisture and protect themselves.
If your plant is experiencing curled leaves, move it away from the harsh sunlight and into an area with bright indirect light to resolve the problem. If any of the leaves have burned, prune them to encourage new, healthy growth.
Lack of New Leaves
If your Peace Lily hasn’t put out any new growth in a while, with all the remaining leaves turning a deeper green and aging, you may be understandably concerned. But, this is not always something to worry about.
Peace Lilies do most of their growth in spring and summer when temperatures are warm and conditions best match their native habitats. These plants generally put out a few new leaves in spring and summer, slowing and then stopping altogether over fall and winter.
If you haven’t spotted a new leaf in a while during the growing season, it’s time to look at care and conditions. The most likely issue is lack of sunlight, but lack of fertilizer and inadequate watering can also cause the same problem. Identify the most likely problem, change the conditions and the plant should develop new growth within a couple of weeks.
Lack of Flowers
One of the most common questions asked when growing a Peace Lily is – why isn’t it flowering? The wonderful blooms are one of the many reasons why people choose Peace Lilies, so a lack of them is understandably disappointing.
Luckily, with a few quick fixes, you should spot some of these classic spadix flowers and the surrounding white modified leaves in no time.
Start by assessing sunlight levels. As these plants are one of the best for low light conditions, many people place them in dark corners with almost no sunlight. While they can survive for short periods like this, they will not have enough energy to put out any more flowers. Place them in bright indirect light if you want to get more flowers out of these plants.
If sunlight is not the problem, take a look at other conditions and see which is furthest away from what these plants are used to in their native habitats. Stress, lack of water, lack of nutrients, or cold temperatures can also leave your plant without blooms.
Peace Lilies are popular houseplants known for their white flowers. Well, what many consider the flowers are actually modified leaves surrounding the real flower – the spadix. These modified leaves don’t always stay the bright white we look for. Sometimes, they can turn a patchy green, or they can even become completely green.
There are several causes for this relatively common issue, the first of which is overfertilizing. Unfortunately, flushing the excess fertilizer on the soil will not cause the flowers to turn white again, but it will prevent any new ones from changing color.
Excessive sunlight can also cause a color change. As they are technically leaves, the white parts of flowers photosynthesize when light is high, causing them to change color as the chlorophyll shows through. Move them into a shadier spot in your home and the new flowers should stay their beloved glossy white color.
Unlike most of the problems on this list, brown flowers are usually not a cause for concern. They are simply part of the plant’s natural life cycle.
Just like other flowering plants, the blooms don’t last forever. And the end of their blooming period, they will begin to turn brown and crisp up before falling off the plant. If you don’t like the look of them, simply prune them away as they begin to fade.
There are other potential causes for flowers turning brown before the end of their life, such as cold drafts, excessive sunlight, or underwatering. However, these issues aren’t as common, and age is normally the culprit.
Even though Peace Lilies are only moderate growers, it is noticeable when they stop growing altogether. Not only will they not expand in size, but they will stop putting out new growth too and the leaves will stop developing.
The first place to check is the bottom of the pot. If you notice roots growing through the drainage holes or circling around the bottom of the pot, your plant is root-bound. This can be harmful to the plant if it goes like this for too long.
Peace Lilies don’t mind being confined, but if the problem persists, the plant will stop growing until it is given new space and fresh soil. Repot into a pot about two sizes up and growth should return to normal.
Lack of nutrients or sunlight could also cause stunted or slow growth. Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer to the soil once every two months during the growing season to combat nutrient leaching in the soil. Move the plant to an area with moderate to bright indirect light if sunlight is the issue, avoiding the direct sun at all costs.
Soft, drooping, and mushy stems that collapse between your fingers are a serious problem that is quite difficult to fix. Although they can be caused by disease, the culprit is usually overwatering or lack of drainage in the pot. Excess water causes the roots and stems to turn soft and begin to rot, particularly near the base of the plant.
The only way to save the plant, in this case, is to repot immediately. Trim away the affected roots and stems and clean off all the old soil as it may continue to harbor the fungus. Don’t fuss over the plant too much while it tries to recover. If you’re lucky, new growth will appear and if not, you may have to discard the plant.
White Powder On Leaves
If you notice white dust or powdery substance on the leaves, you’ve either got a pest or disease problem.
In the pest category, look for mealybugs that feed on the foliage and leave a white powdery substance behind to protect their eggs. Remove these harmful pests with neem oil or insecticidal soap, repeating applications until they are completely gone.
In the disease category, you are likely dealing with powdery mildew, a common problem that can occur indoors and out in warm and humid conditions. Wipe down the leaves with a fungicide to remove the growths and after a few weeks and repeated spot applications when needed, it should disappear.
It is also a good idea to ensure adequate airflow around the plant to prevent any problems in the future. Do this by spacing the plants properly and pruning away dying leaves. You should also avoid misting or watering the foliage directly.
Mold On Soil Surface
Peace Lily problems may not present themselves on the plant itself. Sometimes, you have to take a look at the plant’s soil too. You may notice a troubling problem developing on the surface – mold.
Often, this mold is relatively harmless. However, it depends on the type of mold, as some are more harmful to your Peace Lily than others. Over time, they can also impact soil conditions that spread to your plant or release this mold into the air and onto other objects around your home.
Mold is generally caused by excessively moist soil conditions, either due to overwatering or lack of drainage. Lack of air circulation or plant debris decaying on the soil surface can also lead to mold growth.
Remove the problematic soil layer, replacing with healthy soil, and spray it with a fungicide to prevent growth in the future. Also, identify the cause to stop any new growth from developing.
Peace Lilies are known as relatively problem-free plants. But, even with the best care, you may encounter one of the 15 Peace Lily problems. Make sure you not only deal with the problem but take steps to stop it from happening again. Once you’ve corrected most of the issues you’ve read about here, your plant should be well on the road to recovery. Just remember, prevention is always better than treatment when it comes to plants!