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The peace lily, also known as the spathe flower or white sails plant, is the common name for several species in the Spathiphyllum genus. It's one of the most popular houseplants, and for good reason: This attractive, shade-loving specimen makes an elegant, aromatic addition to your houseplant collection.
Young peace lilies take between three and five years to reach maturity, growing dark green foliage and producing their signature white blooms in a little over one year. What appears to be a fragrant flower—the large white petal shaped like an upright leaf—is actually a large spathe. This thick spike houses lots of tiny flowers that can grow up to 6 inches long and 4 inches wide. Both the spathe and the spadix (the protruding inner rod) do an excellent job at purifying the surrounding air, which is one of the many reasons that peace lilies are a great option to grow as indoor plants. Since this species is toxic, it's best to grow your peace lily out of reach of children and pets.
- Botanical Name: Spathiphyllum
- Common Name: Peace lily, spathe flower, white sails plant
- Plant Type: Evergreen, herbaceous perennial
- Mature Size: 1–4 feet high
- Sun Exposure: Low, indirect light
- Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
- Soil pH: 5.0–6.5
- Toxicity: Toxic to humans and pets
Plant your indoor peace lily in an all-purpose potting soil topped with sphagnum moss to retain water. Water this plant about once per week or when the top 2 inches of soil feel dry. Your peace lily may need more frequent waterings during the summer growing season, though the plants are generally easy to take care of and don't require much of a time commitment.
The attractive, fragrant flowers can last up to six weeks. Even for the healthiest peace lilies, these blooms eventually turn from white to pale green. If you prefer white flowers, you can cut them back once they turn green to enjoy your plant's foliage until it blooms again.
Since this species is susceptible to pests, always keep an eye out for scale, spider mites, or mealybugs. Wipe the leaves with insecticidal soap or a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove pests as needed.
Best Growing Conditions for Peace Lilies
While these plants are a popular pick for shady spaces thanks to their low light requirements, your peace lily still needs adequate sunlight to thrive. Dappled shade is an acceptable environment, but moderate, indirect light is best (so place yours near a north- or east-facing window if possible).
If you want your peace lily to bloom, it'll need a bit more light. Keep in mind that a peace lily that gets at least a few hours of bright, indirect light will produce the most flowers. Be sure to place your plant in an area without any direct sun, as the intense light can burn its leaves.
This species prefers regular waterings to stay healthy. Your peace lily will certainly tell you when it's time for more water: Known for being a bit dramatic, if this plant is thirsty, its leaves quickly begin to droop. Once watered, they'll usually perk back up within the same day and return to their healthy, upright state. Black tips on the leaves also indicate that this species needs more water.
Since this species is native to the jungle, your peace lily should be kept in temperatures above 65 degrees. Choose a spot that doesn't get cold drafts. Since peace lilies are used to a tropical environment, do your best to keep the air around your plant humid. One way to do so is to set the pot on a humidifying tray of pebbles and water. The water will evaporate and moisten the air around your plant. You can also grow your peace lily as a bathroom plant so it can enjoy the steam from your shower or tub.
Types of Peace Lilies
There are several common types of peace lilies, all of which boast their signature glossy, evergreen spathes and white flowers. However, they all have slightly different growth habits and can grow to very different sizes.
For instance, the Mauna Loa variety is known for its large, plentiful leaves and flowers, which can bloom year-round. It can also grow up to 3 to 4 feet high. For a more compact peace lily, look for Spathiphyllum wallisii—the only non-hybridized peace lily—which grows to only 1 foot tall.
How to Propagate Peace Lilies
Peace lilies can't be propagated via leaf or stem cuttings, but they can easily be propagated by division during any season. While it's possible for an experienced gardener to propagate these plants via seeds, those started this way will take several years to flower. Here's how to propagate your plant to grow new peace lilies:
Step 1: Prepare a fresh pot no larger than 6 inches in diameter and fill it with fresh potting soil.
Step 2: Remove the mother plant from its pot, then carefully loosen the soil around the roots. Pulling the roots too quickly can rip them, which may cause them to grow poorly once propagated. Use your fingers to gently pull apart the roots in search of a clump of roots with several leaves.
Step 3: Using a clean, sharp gardening blade, cut any roots connecting the leafy section to the mother plant. Depending on the size of the mother plant, you may be able to cut several clumps.
Step 4: Plant the new peace lily in the pot and repot the mother plant with fresh soil.
Step 5: Water the new plant and keep it in a warm space with plenty of bright, indirect light while it adjusts to its new pot. Keep the soil moist—but not soggy—for a few weeks until the plant is established. Continue caring for the new plant as usual.
Common Problems With Peace Lilies
Peace lilies are fairly easy to care for, and these easy-growing plants are a great option for beginner plant parents. However, as with any type of houseplant, it's possible to run into a few common growing problems.
Peace lilies grown in darkness are unlikely to flower, and they're also more susceptible to fungal diseases like powdery mildew. Prevent fungal diseases by offering plenty of light and watering only at the soil line, taking care to keep leaves from being splashed. Some cases may require an application of fungicide to restore your plant's health.
Leaves Dying or Falling
Like many common houseplants, it's normal for some peace lily leaves to die. Trim dead leaves as needed when you notice their health deteriorating—if they aren't removed quickly enough, pests can begin eating not only the dead leaves but healthy ones, too.
While peace lilies love plenty of water, an overwatered plant can still experience root rot. If your plant's leaves are turning yellow on the ends or appear wilted, repot the plant in fresh soil and cut back on its watering schedule.
Potting and Repotting Peace Lilies
Repot your peace lily in late winter when the plant begins to grow new shoots before the spring growing season. A key for repotting your plant is to go only one size up. Once the plant can fit inside a 10-inch pot, it most likely won't need larger pots in the future—simply begin pruning it and adding fresh soil to the same pot rather than sizing up. Make sure to choose a pot that has good drainage holes. Repotting is also the perfect time to divide your peace lily to make a new plant.
If you'd prefer not to use soil, you can also grow your peace lilies in water with no soil at all. Use glass stones or pebbles in the bottom of your vase so the plant’s roots stay submerged below the waterline while the stems and leaves remain above it. Doing this will keep the green portions of the plant from rotting.
How to Get Peace Lilies to Bloom
When grown in the right conditions, most peace lilies bloom twice a year during spring and fall. The flowers typically last about six weeks, but it's possible for them to flower for up to two months. If your peace lily isn't blooming, the most common reason is insufficient light.
Growing your plant in a low-light space can prevent it from flowering when it's not close enough to a window. Peace lilies in hallways or windowless rooms are not likely to produce blooms. Move your plant to an area with medium, indirect light without placing it in direct sun. Like dark rooms, direct sunlight can also prevent your peace lily from flowering, as the harsh exposure might burn its leaves and damage the plant.
It may take until the next flowering season to see the results of adjusting your peace lily's light. Once the plant does bloom, you can remove (or "deadhead") wilting flowers by pruning them from the plant at the base of the flower above any healthy leaves.
Are Peace Lilies Hard to Take Care Of?
Peace lilies are easy-growing plants that produce fragrant aromas. The most important conditions to provide while growing peace lilies are regular waterings, adequate temperatures (above 65 degrees), and medium to dappled indirect sunlight.
Are Peace Lilies Perennials?
Peace lilies are evergreen perennials that produce deep, shiny green foliage year-round along with blooms of white flowers during spring and fall.
How Fast Do Peace Lilies Grow?
Your peace lily can grow anywhere from 1 to 6 inches per year, while it can take between three and five years to reach maturity.
Can Peace Lilies Grow Outside?
Since peace lilies are native to tropical conditions, most are grown as houseplants to provide comfortable temperatures throughout the winter. However, they can be planted in the ground outside if you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 through 12.
Kim H-H, Yang J-Y, Lee J-Y, et al. House-Plant Placement for Indoor Air Purification and Health Benefits on Asthmatics. Environ Health Toxicol. 2014;29:e2014014. doi:10.5620/eht.e2014014
Degenerative Myelopathy in Dogs. VCA Animal Hospitals.