Spathiphyllum or peace lily, a variety of flowering plants from the family Araceae, indigenous to the tropics of Southeastern Asia and the Americas. While it’s commonly called a “peace lily”, it is not a true lily as their distinctive “flowers” are essentially spathes and are the basis of its Latin name, Spathiphyllum or “spathe-leaf”.
This plant usually lives between 3 to 5 years old, although some can last longer with the proper nutrients and care. It is an evergreen perennial plant with large green leaves between 5–26 inches long and 1–10 inches wide. The typical Peace Lily grown indoors will reach 6 inches high while reaching around 6 feet outdoors, depending on the variety since they’re a few dwarf variants and other varieties that can grow bigger.
It usually blooms twice a year under proper conditions. The flowers are produced in a yellow spadix, enclosed by a 4–12 inch long spathe colored either green, yellow or white, generally lasting for about 2 months.
While a NASA study noted that the plant can cleanse gaseous contaminants from the air, follow-up studies found this effect is too little to be of practical use.
The plant is valued by growers due to its easy nature and relatively low maintenance. Most of this family of plants are extensively grown for their ornamental display and fragrance.
It thrives best in indirect bright light but has good tolerance to low-lit surroundings as it doesn’t need a lot of light to stay alive. If it’s difficult to meet its light requirements, the plant can grow under grow lights or fluorescent lighting. It’s important to be careful of exposing it to direct light as it will damage the leaves.
The soil should be kept moist without over-watering it. This can be achieved by thoroughly watering the plant until the water can be seen emerging out from the drainage holes of the pot. Or water it when the topsoil is dry or when you notice the leaves starting to wilt. This plant does not like to get its roots to become soggy.
It is also extra sensitive to chemicals such as fluoride so care must be taken to filter tap water.
The best humidity level for this plant is around 50-60% since it is from the tropics and grows in rainforests. Humidity can be helped by regular misting and using a humidifier.
It prefers a temperature range of 65-80°F and cannot handle temperatures lower than 45°F. Similar to most plants grown indoors, it doesn’t like sudden fluctuations of temperature
It thrives well in rich organic, well-draining moist soil. It can tolerate living in dry soil for some time, but growth will be affected. Any type of potting soil is enough provided that it drains well.
These plants can also grow in vases filled with water without any soil although the base must be above the water, allowing just the roots to hang in the water by supporting the roots with gravel or stones. This will prevent the plant’s base and leaves from being continuously wet, causing rot.
Repotting your plant frequently once the plant becomes root-bound. This is important to ensure you have a happy plant. Repot annually since it is a fast grower.
The direct method for propagating the plant is by dividing the rhizomes. This is also necessary to allow the plant to perpetuate itself by clones since it has a relatively short life of 3-5 years.
Once the plant is old enough, rhizomes start to form horizontally in the soil. While not important, the easiest time to propagate the plant is after it flowers.
It is also easy to separate rhizomes when you’re repotting the plant. Extricate the plant and split it into several small plants, making sure each new plant has several leaves. Pot the new clones in suitable soil, water well until you see flowing water from the drainage holes of the pot, and place the pots in a location with sufficient lighting.
Although not completely necessary, the plant can use extra nutrients occasionally. Use a balanced fertilizer that is diluted to half the recommended dose, feeding it once every 6 weeks during the main growing season (warmer months). Don’t feed it in winter.
Mealybugs and scale are the usual pests that can infest the plant. Wiping the leaves comprehensively with insecticidal soap is very effective at getting rid of them, although recurring applications will be essential for a few weeks.
You might find leaves turning yellow – this could be the result of several different problems. The commonest reason might be over-watering the plant. It also happens when the plant gets older and leaves start becoming yellow and dying. Ensure the recommended schedule for watering is followed and make sure excess water drains away and doesn’t pool around the roots.
Sometimes your plant might stop flowering – this is due to the plant getting insufficient light as it needs the right amount of light to produce flowers while too much direct light will result in the leaves getting damaged.
Another issue that may arise is the leaf edges of the Peace Lily turning brown. This could be caused by excessive exposure to direct light. It could also be due to insufficient humidity levels. You will have to identify the problem correctly – either transfer the plant out of direct light and see if that helps the leaves recover. If the light is not the issue, then you have to increase humidity levels by increasing the frequency of misting.
Green or limp flowers or no flowers can be due to over-fertilization. Reduce feeding the plant when you see green flowers. Limp flowers can be corrected by swapping for a fertilizer with higher levels of phosphorus specifically for helping plants to flower.