The peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii) is one of the most popular indoor plant choices, and for good reason.
These lovely plants with its glossy, dark green leaves are gorgeous. They earned their name "peace lily" because their white flowers (called spathes) resemble flags of peace. However, they aren't anywhere close to being true lilies.
Rather, they are tropical perennials, native to the warm regions of Central and South America, as well as southeastern Asia — a huge distinction that guides proper plant care for them. They are a member of the Araceae family which also includes elephant ear, philodendron, and the Swiss cheese plant.
Peace lilies are easy to take care of, don't require much light, and add a note of exotic beauty to any space, with their transcendent white spathes. They are also among one of the top indoor air cleaning plants, perfect for purifying air in the home or office. In fact, it was even rated by a NASA study as an effective neutralizer of formaldehyde and carbon monoxide.
The entire plant size can range from 1 to 4 feet tall (and wide), making it perfect as a strikingly beautiful floor plant.
A Word of Caution
As beautiful as this peace plant looks, they are mildly toxic to humans and animals.
If ingested, the leaves on peace lilies can cause swelling of the tongue, drooling and even vomiting. It might be too strong to say that they're poisonous plants, but we do recommend keeping them away from small children and pets.
Wash your hands after handling this plant too, as it produces a compound that can aggravate and irritate the skin.
Peace Lily Care
Peace lilies are hardy and long-lasting with the right plant care. You don't need to be a plant expert to get them to flourish; in fact even complete beginners can find success with growing these beauties.
With the right light levels and tailored amount of water and humidity, you'll come to see why this gorgeous plant is one of the most popular additions to anyone's houseplant collection.
Peace lilies, being the tropical evergreen plants that they are, are best grown in a spot away from direct sunlight. Medium to low indirect sunlight conditions are best. Avoid bright light or hot indirect light from the sun. This can burn the plant, leading to either yellow leaves, brown leaves or brown leaf tips.
When choosing the right light conditions, think about how you'd best like your peace lily to present.
If you're looking for your plant to grow more lovely white spathes, place it in slightly more indirect sunlight. Their flowers will flourish starting in early summer, and continue to bloom through the rest of the year, under the right growing conditions.
Otherwise, in low indirect light, your peace lily will bloom less, showcase fewer white flowers, and will more resemble a typical foliage plant.
They are adaptable to fluorescent light too, so yes, peace lilies are perfectly office-friendly!
Temperature and Humidity
Peace lilies aren't a big fan of cold temperatures. In fact, they flourish best under higher humidity levels. Their ideal consistent temperature runs from 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep your plant away from chilly drafts or severe swings in temperatures. Remember — peace lilies are essentially creatures of tropical rainforests, meaning they are especially sensitive to the cold, and thrive best in humid environments. The more you can replicate their natural rainforest environment, the better.
One quick and easy way to increase humidity for this evergreen plant is to spritz their leaves several times a week. You can also place their pot on top of a moistened pebble tray.
If you'd like to grow your peace lily outdoors, please note that they can only really survive outdoors in hardiness Zones 11 and 12, which is limited to Puerto Rico and certain parts of Hawaii in the United States.
Soil and Water
It's easy to tell when your peace lily is thirsty. It'll droop a bit, reminding you that it's dehydrated and in desperate need of a drink. If you give your plant regular watering, about once a week, with the occasional spritz of water to the leaves during the summer, it should stay hydrated.
Avoid watering over the plant itself, and focus instead alongside the outside edges of the soil within the container. This will keep water from pooling up between the stems and leading to root rot.
Keep the soil moist for your tropical plant. Consistent moisture is great. That said, like many plants, they don't enjoy sitting in standing water or overly waterlogged soil either. Wait until the top inch of soil dries out between waterings.
This lovely plant is sensitive to chemicals, so use filtered, bottled or lukewarm water whenever you can. If you are using tap water, make sure to leave it out for 24 hours for the chlorine to evaporate fully from it.
Overall though, it's easier to accidentally to kill your peace lily through overwatering, rather than underwatering. Given that they natively thrive in a tropical environment, these jungle plants are actually quite drought-tolerant.
During the winter, you can even slow down the watering schedule to every 10-14 days. This time of the year is considered a resting season for the plant.
Peace lilies are sensitive and not especially heavy feeders, so fertilize them just occasionally. Starting in late winter, you can fertilize your plant every few weeks or so, to encourage spring and summer growth.
We recommend going for a gentle, organic option. Pro Organic Plant Food Spray is one great choice for a houseplant fertilizer, given that it's 100% organic and vegan, as well as fully balanced with natural and essential vitamins. Avoid using chemical fertilizers that can harm the indoor peace lily.
Potting and Repotting
Peace lily plants are right at home growing within containers, but they prefer pots that are much larger than their root balls. To plant one, here's what to do:
- Choose a container with good drainage. The size should be no more than a third of an inch larger than your peace lily's root ball.
- Fill the container 1/3 of the way with fresh potting soil.
- Place the plant inside the container, so that the top of the root ball is positioned an inch below the top of the pot's rim. This leaves enough space for watering, as you don't want dry soil.
- Add more potting mix around the root ball.
- Water your peace lily until you see moisture drain out from the bottom of the pot. Place a saucer underneath, then move your plant to its new spot in your home.
Unlike other plants, peace lilies don't mind getting a little crowded in their containers. Here's how to check your plant for signs that it's time to find a larger container: your plant begins to droop more frequently; your plant's roots are peeking above the soil; or your peace lily seems to be soaking up all the water within a few days (versus a full week).
This usually means that the roots of your peace plant have grown to the point where there's not enough soil left to hold water.
Choose a new pot that's just a couple of inches wider in diameter than the current container. Don't forget to make sure that it has a proper drainage hole. Then follow the planting instructions above to re-pot. Over time, you may need to shift your peace lily to ever-larger pots, but typically, you'll never need a pot bigger than 10 inches in diameter.
As a general rule, if you repot your plant every few years in the spring, your peace lily will enjoy the new and refreshed soil.
Growing in Water
Peace lilies are often sold or given as gifts in vases without any soil.
If you're interested in growing these beautiful plants in water only, you can easily do so.
Suspend the base of the plant above the water line in the vase or container. You can use a special vase insert, or a layer of small stones. This will help the plant's roots grow into the water, while preventing the base of the plant and its leaves from constant moisture, which can quickly lead to rot.
Don't forget to use bottled, distilled or filtered water. Remember to also keep the peace lily and its vase out of direct sunlight, as this will prevent algae from forming. Clean and replenish with fresh water every few months whenever you see the water becoming muddy or murky.
There are a few ways to propagate this beautiful plant.
You can use a sharp knife to slice through the center of the plant's rootball. Then you can replant each half by itself into its own respective container. Use the same potting soil that you used with the mother plant.
If you see some of the plant's leaves fall off or turn yellow, don't be overly alarmed. This is a typical transplant shock reaction. Simply snip off the affected leaves or flowers at the base of its stem, and then move forward with your standard plant care. This will help to promote new growth.
The peace lilies' lovely wide leaves can easily attract dust in the home. This layer of dust can prevent proper photosynthesis and keep the plant from processing sunlight fully.
There are a few ways to remedy this. You can either set the plant in a bath and give it a quick shower, or place it in the sink, and allow the water to run gently over its leaves. Alternatively, you can wipe its glossy leaves clean with a damp cloth. (As a bonus, doing this can clear any pests that might otherwise normally gather at the bottom of the leaves.)
It might be tempting to use commercial leaf shine products, but we advise steering wide and clear of them. Their artificial ingredients can clog the pores of your peace lily's leaves. This prevents them from properly exchanging carbon dioxide and water in the air, ultimately harming your plant
During your care for the peace lily, you might come across some common problems. Have no fear! There is usually an easy explanation (and solution!) for each.
- Spotting small flies around the plant? These are likely fungus gnats. These bugs love moist compost and soil. To disrupt their lifecycle, try to water your plant less frequently. Homemade traps left in shallow dishes can also work to attract and kill them (you can use wine, beer, and other sweet materials).
- Dealing with a different type of pest? Spider mites and aphids also are a fan of the peace lily. To keep them away, wipe the plant's leaves clean with a gentle dish soap and water solution, or an insecticidal soap. And if you're buying your plant from a supermarket or garden center, always make sure to check it for bugs beforehand.
- Seeing yellow leaves? Don't worry, that's completely natural. You can remove those to make room for fresh leaf growth on your plant. Overwatering can also cause this problem; ease up on the hydration, allow its soil to dry out a bit and see if that helps at all.
- Seeing brown edges or tips on the leaves? This might be caused by too much direct sunlight, lack of water, and/or low humidity levels. Try the following solutions to remedy the problem. Move the plant to a more shaded area — one that's ideally still bright, but at least away from the direct sun. Try watering more often (making sure that the top layer of the soil dries out sufficiently in-between, of course). Mist the leaves or keep the plant on a tray of moist gravel or pebbles.
- Spotting weak-looking flowers or a complete lack of blooms? Again, low light and shade will inhibit the development of the plant's beautiful spathes. Try moving your peace lily to a place with brighter indirect light.
You might be surprised to know that there are about 40-some varieties of peace lilies. Their sizing ranges from dwarf to giant, the most popular varieties being those that produce flowers and leaves up to 3 feet tall.
While we won't cover all the varieties in this article (there are far too many for that!), we'll organize them generally by size, and by the ones you'll most likely come across when shopping.
- Small-sized peace lilies: This variety usually tops out between 10 to 12 inches. For example, the Spathiphyllum Petite grows to 10 inches tall, and stops there.
- Medium-sized peace lilies: This variety reaches 1 to 4 feet tall. One example, the Mauna Loa Supreme, is a highly popular variety sold around the country. It often gets to 3-4 feet tall, with leaves that stretch 9" wide.
- Large-sized peace lilies: Lastly, this variety can grow up to an astounding 6 feet tall. Sensation is the the largest peace lily variety out there and falls within this category. Its leaves are broad and can span up to 20" long.
Nurturing a peace lily can be very rewarding.
With their glossy, dark green leaves and exotic-looking white flowers, a peace lily is perfect for bringing a note of elegance and grace to any indoor space. Add in its air-purifying qualities and drought-tolerant qualities, and you can completely see why this low-maintenance plant is top of the list for so many proud houseplant owners.
Truly, with the right care, you'll find that your peace lily can thrive for years to come.
If you found our guide helpful, we encourage you to explore our Best Indoor Plants article to spark even more plant-growing inspiration.