How to grow and care for a peace lily

The peace lily is one of the most popular, hardiest and potentially most beautiful of the smaller indoor plants. They offer the best of both worlds: beautiful foliage year-round and gorgeous, generally pure white, flowers over a long period.

Peace Lily

What you need to know about a peace lily

Name: spath, peace or Madonna lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii cvrs)

Plant type: Clump forming, evergreen, perennial.

Height: 20–60cm

Foliage: deep green, glossy, lance shaped.

Climate: indoors – all zones. Outdoors – tropical, sub-tropical and warm micro-climates in warm temperate.

Soil: moist, rich, free-draining.

Position: bright filtered light to full-shade. No direct sunlight.

Flowering: white spathe flowers on tall stems, mainly in warmer seasons.

Feeding: annually with controlled-release fertiliser.

Watering: keep moist, but not wet.

Appearance and characteristics of a peace lily

Dense clumps of lush, glossy, emerald-green foliage and snowy white flowers on long stems are the hallmarks of the peace or spath lily, which is one of the few flowering house plants. There are a range of peace lilies available: “giant”, green-flowering and gorgeous variegated leaf varieties.

All parts of Spathiphyllums are mildly poisonous. In rare cases, some people may suffer from contact dermatitis, and eating any parts can cause stomach upsets. Be wary of this around pets—cats especially—as they are inclined to play with the flower spikes.

Uses of peace lilies

A peace lily can be grown for a variety of uses, including:

  • One of the most beautiful, reliable and easiest to grow of the indoor plants.
  • Can grow in virtually any indoor situation, but do avoid any direct sunlight.
  • Excellent for helping keep indoor air clean and fresh. The peace lily is recognised as one of the best natural indoor air-purifiers, as it will help strip harmful VOCs (volatile organic chemicals) from the air.

How to plant and grow a peace lily

A peace lily can tolerate almost any light levels indoors, but avoid direct sunlight, as this will scorch the leaves. Avoid positioning in or near the direct air stream of heaters or air-conditioners.

Keep your peace lily moist, but not wet. It can grow outdoors in pots or in gardens, provided it has a very warm position, is out of direct sun and drainage is excellent.

Peace lily planting tips

Only use a premium potting mix suitable for indoor plants, and ensure the pot has excellent drainage.

Caring for a peace lily

Liquid feed your peace lily over peak growing times (follow the product recommendations), and feed it annually with a quality controlled-release fertiliser.

Overwatering is the most common problem with peace lilies. Use your finger to check the moisture level of the potting mix before watering. If the surface is moist then it’s okay. If it’s dry for the first centimetre or two, then give it some water.

Don’t allow your peace lily to stand in a saucer of water. If in an air-conditioned environment, consider misting lightly with water every day or two to elevate humidity.

Re-pot every 12 to 18 months. Increase the pot size if required, otherwise simply replace and replenish some of the potting mix as needed.

Pruning peace lilies

For best results, remove any dead or yellowing leaves, and remove flowers as they finish.

Diseases and pests

Peace lily is prone to the following pests:

  • Mealy bug: appears as small white fluffy lumps near leaf stem bases. A range of products are available for treating this pest, and multiple treatments may be needed. Ask your plant specialist for guidance.
  • Scale insects: these are generally small, brown lumps on the underside of leaves and stems. They’re easily treated with a suitable horticultural or pest oil.

Peace lily propagation

Oversized plants can be carefully divided up.

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