How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Peace Lilies
Peace Lilies are beautiful flowers that can add a bit of personality to any garden. But growing them can take a little more patience than many gardeners have. In this article, organic gardening expert Logan Hailey walks through every step you'll need to follow to successfully plant, grow, and care for Peace Lilies.
Undemanding and easygoing, peace lilies are a popular hybrid from the Spathiphyllum genus of tropical plants. These stunning houseplants are easy to grow and bloom for several months of the year. As an indoor plant with striking creamy white flowers, they are sure to catch your eye in any room or garden.
A symbol of purity and prosperity, they are a very popular houseplant for offices and homes because they don’t require direct sunlight and are very easy to please. They can make any indoor space a little more lively, especially when paired with other indoor plants, like one of the many pothos varieties.
Though they can handle a little neglect, it is still important to give peace lilies proper growing conditions to thrive. There are many factors you’ll want to consider before adding these to your indoor or outdoor gardening space. Let’s dig into how to grow and care for a peace lily plant.
Peace Lily Plant Overview
Plant Type Perennial Tropical Flower
Species Spathiphyllum spp
Hardiness Zones USDA 11-12
Planting Season All year, spring if outdoors
Plant Height 1-3 ft indoors, 6 ft outdoors
Fertility Needs Light to Moderate
Soil Type Acidic
Native Region Asia and Central America
Bloom Time Spring, Fall
Pot Size 1-5 Gallon Pot
Watering Needs Moderate
Sun Exposure Indirect Light or Partial Shade
Days to Maturity 2-3 Years
Pests Scae and Mealybugs
All About Peace Lilies
Peace lilies are popular houseplants with glossy deep green leaves and long flower stalks that seem to dance above the foliage. They take 2-3 years to mature and bloom once or twice a year, resulting in several months of lovely oval-shaped white flowers.
Indoors or Outdoors?
Peace lilies are most commonly grown as indoor potted plants. While they are not hardy outdoors in most areas of the United States, houseplants can be moved outside during the warmest summer days as long as the temperature remains above 65°F.
If you live in USDA zones 11 or 12 (parts of southern Florida, Texas, or southern California), you can grow them outside in shady parts of your garden.
Among the easiest house plants to grow, they are remarkably resilient even in the face of neglect. As long as they have indirect sunlight, consistent temperatures, and moderate moisture, Spathiphyllum will purify indoor air and brighten up any space.
Removes Toxins From the Air
Through their indoor air pollutant studies, NASA actually found that peace lilies are one of the best plants for filtering toxins from the air. Many chemicals from building materials, insulations, paints, and furniture can become trapped inside your home and cause Sick Building Syndrome.
This plant helps filter the air from chemicals like Benzene, Formaldehyde, and Trichloroethylene, which are commonly found in many home products. Through its natural growth and respiration process, the plant absorbs these pollutants through its leaves and sends them down to the roots where soil microbes can break them down.
This means that they are incredible air-purifying plants for any indoor living space. They clean the air year-round and also reduce mold spores and allergies inside your home.
Are They Considered True Lilies?
Technically not lilies, Spathiphyllum are tropical herbaceous perennials that got their name because of their gorgeous white flowers that look like white flags of peace. In contrast to true lilies (Lilium species), they do not grow from bulbs nor are their flowers ”true flowers.” What we call the “spathe” (the flowering portion) is actually a large, modified leaf bract around the tiny insignificant flowers inside.
Flowers or Leaves?
Yes, the this plant is most famous for its gorgeous hooded white “flowers.” But these flowers are actually leaves, more specifically leaf bracts. The creamy white leaf of the flower is called a spathe and the white or yellow cylinder that sticks up inside the hood is called a spadix. Inside the spadix are the “true flowers” of the peace lily, which are small and not very noticeable.
After a few weeks of flowering, you may notice powdery pollen. Soon, the flower-like spathe leaves will begin to brown and fade, at which point you should cut off the stem to encourage more growth.
Keeping Away From Pets & Children
This plant is mildly poisonous to both humans and pets. All parts of the plant have the toxic compound calcium oxalate that can cause respiratory and stomach problems if ingested. This compound is also found in daffodils, true lilies, and philodendrons. It’s best to keep potted plants up on shelves or in a place that is difficult for pets or kids to reach.
Propagation and Planting
This plant is widely available at garden stores and nurseries. It is best to start with a full-grown healthy plant that becomes acclimated to your home.
When to Propagate
After 6 months to a year, you can propagate peace lilies into several other baby plants. Wait until the plant has thoroughly filled its pot and roots are peeking up from the soil surface. You may see shoots growing in the pot around the central mother plant. This is a sign it’s time to divide and propagate.
Begin by gently removing the plant from its original pot and cutting out any dead plant parts that may be diseased or decaying. Then, lightly wash the roots under running water until the soil has been mostly washed away from the root surface. Find where the whole plant’s crowns remain and gently divide them with your hands, pruners, or a knife.
Now that you’ve divided the crowns, you can return the mother plant to the original container and prepare new pots with a shallow layer of rich, well-drained potting mix. Hold the newly divided baby crown gently inside the pot, ensuring its roots are suspended straight down.
Scoop soil into the pot to backfill, keeping the baby plant in place until it sits just above the soil surface in the pot. Thoroughly water in the new crown and care for it just like the original.
When Do They Mature?
Most peace lilies you will find in stores are already a year or two old. It can take up to 3 years for a newly planted peace lily to mature and begin flowering. This is because the plant’s initial growth is all vegetative, with a focus on developing roots, shoots, and leaves.
Once it reaches a certain stage in its life (1-3 years depending on conditions), the plant will be ready to enter reproductive growth and begin producing flowers every year (if conditions are favorable).
Perhaps another reason Spathiphyllum got its name is that it is an incredibly peaceful plant. It is not very finicky or needy in terms of care. The most important thing to remember is that they hate “wet feet” (overly moist roots) and love indirect sunlight.
Peace lilies really despise soggy soil. It is best to wait to water when the plant begins to slightly droop. It will bounce back very quickly after a thorough watering through its well-drained soil. Allow the soil to thoroughly dry out before watering again to ensure that the plant does not get too damp.
Despite their ability to filter toxins out of the air, this plant is very sensitive to chlorine in the water. It is best to leave the watering can out overnight to let the chlorine dissipate, or water only with filtered tap water or rainwater.
If growing outside, they can be left relatively to their own accord in tropical southern regions of the U.S. In rainy areas, the best course of action is to broadfork or loosen the soil and amend with compost at planting to ensure that the plant does not become waterlogged.
Soil and Fertility
Like many potted plants, peace lilies prefer a rich well-drained potting mix. Plenty of organic matter like compost is ideal for this plant because its native habitat is under tropical rainforest canopies where lots of decaying plant matter has accumulated. They also prefer slightly acidic soil, so consider
Loose, easily-drained soil is also important because this plant hates damp conditions as I described above. Choose a potting mix that is rich in compost, perlite, and/or vermiculite that will thoroughly drain when watered.
When it comes to fertility, they appreciate semi-frequent feeding during the spring and summer. An all-purpose organic granulated fertilizer or a liquid fish fertilizer, diluted to 1 tablespoon per gallon of water every 2-3 weeks will work perfectly. You don’t need to fertilize during the winter.
Temperature and Humidity
Peace lilies thrive in humidity and warmth around 68-85°F. They will tolerate down to 55 or 60°, however, prolonged cold temperatures or chilly drafts will weaken and kill the plant. It is best to keep them in the warmest area of your home during the winter. As a rule of thumb, remember that if you need a jacket, then it’s too cold. Keep it near well-insulated, heated areas for the lushest growth and flowering.
If you live in a dry region, maintain humidity around the plant by misting it with distilled water throughout the summer. A simple mister bottle will do as long as it doesn’t have heavily chlorinated water. The mist can be applied directly to the leaves every other day or so. Plants that grow in humid areas don’t require any extra care as long as they remain warm enough.
In the wild, peace lilies thrive in the shady rainforest floors of Central America and Asia. Keeping this native habitat in mind, it is best to put your plant in an area with indirect or filtered sunlight. Depending on the variety, direct sunlight can harm the plant and cause it to have pale, curled-up leaves or even scorched leaf surfaces.
A north-facing window, bathroom, office, or middle of a room with muffled light are great places to grow potted plants. Be aware that indirect light does not mean no light. They still need 6-8 hours of indirect sunlight to properly photosynthesize and grow.
In an outdoor tropical garden, plant them beneath the soft shade of large shrubs or trees, but not too close to the base of dense trees.
Spathiphyllum is a genus that contains dozens of different varieties. These plants have mostly been hybridized for unique flowers, sizes, and traits. Some peace lilies are miniature and others are massive and lush.
The classic white-flowered peace lily with glossy green leaves is the most well-known, but there are also varieties with light variegated leaves, pink flowers, or even golden-green foliage.
Spathiphyllum ‘Picasso’: oblong leaves and shiny white-splotched leaves make for a unique variegated variety.
S. ‘Sensation’: a giant variety that can grow over 6 feet tall with extra-wide, 20-inch long leaves.
S. ‘Starlight’: a varietal with wavy, narrow leaves and heaps of flowers (sometimes 15 or more at a time).
S. ‘Power Petite’: the smallest variety that grows to 15” tall and is perfect for small pots.
S. ‘Golden Delicious’: gorgeous green and gold speckled leaves make this hybrid stand out amongst other houseplants.
One amazing fact about this plant is that it’s virtually pest-free and disease-free. However, every once in a while they can fall victim to these easy-fix issues:
Scale and Mealybugs
These tiny annoying bugs are relatively easy to control. First, keep a healthy plant with plenty of airflow, fertility, warmth, light, and drainage. If scale or mealybugs begin to colonize the leaves, simply use soapy water or horticultural oil directly on the leaves to wash or rub them off and prevent them from returning. It may take several applications.
Curled or Scorched Leaves
If your peace lily begins to have withered, curled, or crispy scorched-looking leaves, this means it is getting too much direct sunlight. They naturally live in the undergrowth of dense tropical rainforests, therefore they cannot handle intense light. Move it away from the window toward an area with indirect light.
North and west-facing windows tend to be best for this plant. If this is not an option, simply place the plant further toward the center of a room where it can get diluted sunlight throughout the day.
Underwatering will lead to droopy leaves. Fortunately, this scenario is better than overwatering because the plant bounces back very quickly. Peace lilies tell you when they are thirsty! Check if the soil is overly dry and then thoroughly water until wet but not soggy. The plant should perk back up in a few hours.
Avoid letting the leaves stay droopy for extended periods of time or they may begin to get brown tips and wither. Consistent moisture is important, so pay attention when your plant tells you it is thirsty!
Because peace lilies are just peacefully relaxing around your home, they can be a magnet for dust accumulation. In order for the plant to properly photosynthesize and breathe through its leaves, it is best to gently wipe down the leaves with a damp cloth every couple of months.
Alternatively, you can bring it on your patio on a warm day and hose it down to wash the leaves clean. Be sure you don’t leave it in direct sunlight for very long, especially with wet leaves that may attract harsh sun rays. Allow it to air dry in the shade and then return to its spot in your home.
Deformed Leaf Growth
If your peace lily looks deformed or is still droopy for a week after watering, it has probably outgrown its pot. This means it is time to upsize and transplant into a larger pot or divide the plant into smaller pieces with a sharp knife cut through the center of the root ball. Replant each half in its own container, backfill with soil, and continue caring for the plant as usual.
Why Isn’t My Peace Lily Blooming?
If your peace lily never seems to put up any flowers, it probably isn’t getting enough warmth and sunlight. This is one of the many problems that peace lilies can suffer from. While it enjoys the indirect light of shady areas, it still needs enough sun to trigger the photosensitivity necessary to flower. Remember, low light does not mean no light!
You should also check that it is getting enough water, warmth, and fertility. If the flowers are green, you are over-fertilizing. If there is a lack of flowers in general, consider watering with a diluted liquid fish fertilizer every 2 weeks during spring and summer.
It’s also worth noting, that if your plant is very young, you may have to wait a year or two before it begins flowering.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you care for for them indoors?
This plant thrives with indirect sunlight and room temperatures (70° to 80°F). Choose a container with good drainage and a bottom pot. Plant peace lilies with a well-drained potting mix rich in organic matter and place 3-6 feet away from a window. Indoor plants thrive with consistent moisture that is never soggy or waterlogged.
Where should I place a peace lily in my house?
Peace lily houseplants are best placed in indirect sunlight near a north- or west-facing window. Too much direct sunlight will scorch their leaves. Ensure that this room is consistently warm and no cold drafts come through the window in the wintertime.
What is a peace lily good for?
Peace lilies are one of the most effective air-purifying house plants. NASA experiments found that the peace lily plant cleaned spaceship air of dozens of toxic indoor pollutants and allergens. It is also a beautiful addition to any room to reduce stress and improve sleep.
How long do they last?
Peace lilies can bloom for two months or more if they receive proper watering (consistent but not soggy) and indirect sunlight in a warm environment. After blooms fade, peace lilies may not bloom again until the fall or the spring of the following year. They can live for three to five years or more if provided a large enough pot and proper care.
How hard is it to keep a peace lily alive?
Peace lilies are relatively easy to keep alive indoors, however, they require a little extra care to keep them thriving and flowering. They love high humidity, warm environments, and medium light conditions (not too much light, but not too little).
Keep your plant thriving with an organic liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks during the summer and a regular misting to increase humidity during dry months.
How do you fix brown tips on peace lily?
Brown tips are usually a sign of overwatering, underwatering, scorched leaves (too much light), or not enough fertility. To sort out the problem, begin with watering. Overwatering and underwatering tend to have the same symptoms, so pay close attention to the soil moisture levels by regularly sticking your finger in and providing water if your finger comes out dry. Never let the plant sit in soggy soil.
Next, check that your plant is getting diluted indirect sunlight throughout the day. If it is too close to the window, move it back in the room to prevent brown scorched tips. Lastly, provide a bi-weekly feeding of all purpose liquid fertilizer during the main growing season (summer and fall) to ensure that tips stop browning.
What is the spiritual meaning and symbolism of a peace lily?
Peace lilies represent peaceful exchanges because their white flowers resemble white flags of peace. They also are symbolic of innocence, purity, hope, healing, prosperity, and virtue. Traditionally, peace lilies are given as gifts for condolences, sympathy, birth, weddings, or coming-of-age celebrations.
Potted peace lilies make an excellent gift, air-purifying houseplant, tropical landscape plant, or office companion. May your peace lily growing adventure be filled with glossy leaves and gorgeous flowers!