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Brown Is A Good Color for Chocolates But Not A Peace Lily

Ask the Expert: What to do about browning leaves I have a Peace Lily plant, which is about 10 months old. I do have it sitting in front of a window in the center of my family room. The leaves are starting to droop and many of the leaves are turning brown. How do I revive this plant and should I cut off the leaves that are brown, and if so, where should I clip them? Sharon


First, we must determine the cause of the browning leaves. Light, water and fertilizer can all be a factor in the browning of peace lily leaves. Exposure to direct light can cause the leaves to turn yellow; showing a burnt appearance. Water, whether too much or too little, can cause peace lilies to wilt and the leaf edges to turn yellow or brown. Over-fertilization or too heavy a concentration of fertilizer can create leaves with brown spots that will eventually cover the entire leaf.

All of these factors can be overcome. Start by trimming the brown leaves off,follow the leaf stem to the base of the plant and cut off.

If light is causing a problem, move the plant at least a foot away from the light source. The new leaves should emerge green and stay green – problem solved.

If water is causing the problem, we need to determine whether it is too much or not enough. First check for drainage – if the drainage holes are blocked and the plant has been setting in water – then over-watering is the culprit. Clean the drainage holes and drain the excess water, then back off the watering until the plant is slightly dry. Water the plant so that the soil is moist but not soggy.

Easy water test – Stick finger in soil down to the second knuckle and put out a small amount of soil – soil is too dry, if you can not roll it into a ball – soil is too wet, if you can roll it into a ball and squeeze water from it – soil is just right if you can roll into a ball, but can’t squeeze water from it. You can, also, purchase a houseplant moisture meters at your local garden center to help with your watering.

If the plant has been too dry, the soil will be dry and will have pulled away from the container. Simply water the plant; making sure not to over-water it. It is important to keep the plant evenly moist. Plants that are exposed to the extremes of both conditions are more susceptible to diseases and insects.

If the peace lily has been over-fertilized you can flush it with clear water – be sure not to cause an over-watering problem. You can, also, re-pot the peace lily into fresh unfertilized soil. Either way, it will take a few weeks for the peace lily to rebound. Be sure not to fertilize during this time.

Whatever the reason and the solution, the peace lily will need a little time to recover. You might want to read our Caring for Peace Lilies page; it contains a lot of useful information. Good luck.

For anyone interested you can buy Peace Lilies (Spathiphyllum clevelandii) through your local florist or garden center.


  1. Thank you for your very helpful information. I’m probably going to have to re-pot the plant and get a houseplant moisture meter, along with some fertilizer. Hopefully these remedies can bring the plant back to its natural beauty.

  2. I have a similar problem, but my leaves turned black/brown and started wilting on one side of the plant. I had it sitting in front of a window and the temperatures outside are <20 degrees F. Do you think that it was caused by cool temperatures? Do you recommend cutting off the leaves down at the base of the stem? Thanks, Cindy

  3. Cindy,

    I think frost damage could be possible. In the winter, my mother’s windows tend to let in a bit of a draft. If your window is not insulted and you can feel a draft, then the peace lily definitely was exposed to to much cold. Move the peace lily a little farther from the window and make sure it is out of any draft flow. Do trim the black leaves back to the base of the plant. If you haven’t fertilized the plant lately, give it a very diluted amount of liquid soluble fertilizer. Also, check for root rot – make sure the plant is properly draining. You may need to re-pot the peace lily; if it isn’t draining properly.

  4. my actual white flower is turning brown what do i do \"

  5. It depends. If the flower has been on the plant for a while, there is nothing you can do. It is the natural progression — flowers will turn brown at the end of their life cycle. I recommend you remove the dead flower by following the stalk to the base of the plant and cut it off.

    However if it is a new flower, you need to check a few things. Moisture level, light exposure and insect infestation. The plant needs to be moist but not soggy. If the plant was too dry at the time the bloom formed, it could cause the browning. If the plant is receiving too much light, the blooms could be scorching. Finally check for insects. They could also cause the bloom to turn brown.

    Once you find the culprit and correct the issue, the new blooms should be fine. I recommend trimming the damage blooms off.

  6. Hi, I’ve had my peace lilies for 4 years and since this summer they’ve had brown spots on their leaves and the new grow is turning brown before it even has a chance to flourish. My plants are over a foot away from sunlight windows, I had switched the soil and repotted them, I do no over water or under water them and trimming back the leaves hasn’t helped. Please offer any suggestions, I’m very concerned.

    Attached Image: IMG00090-20101109-0929.jpg

  7. Melissa,

    The peace lily is a moisture loving plant; it may not be getting enough humidity because of the warmer summer temperatures. Try getting a spritzer bottle and spraying it a few times a week. For watering, make sure you are completely saturating the soil when you water, but never let your peace lily stand in water. Before watering again, use your finger to test the soil to make sure it feels dry to the touch.

    When you changed the soil, did your roots look healthy? A healthy peace lily should have white roots. If your roots were not white, your could have a problem with the root system.

  8. My peace lily leaves are turning dark and brittle. I have it across the room from a southheast window, only water it when it droop, which is maybe monthly! I have used a water “meter” to check moisture and it does show the soil gradually drying. I got it a year ago and haven’t added any fertilizer since for fear of “burning” the plant.

    Any thoughts please?
    Sorry, I’m not sure how to post a pic

  9. Jamie Woods says:

    Hi Jocelyn,
    It sounds like your Peace Lily may not be getting enough water. Try sticking you finger into the soil up to the first knuckle and pulling out a little of the soil. If you are unable to roll the soil into a ball, then your plant is not getting enough water. If you can roll it into a ball, and some water comes out when you squeeze it, then it is getting too much water. You know you have the perfect water balance when you can roll the soil into a ball, but no water comes out when you squeeze it. Also, don’t have a fear of fertilizing your Peace Lily. If you use a properly balanced fertilizer, you should be okay! Using a 20-20-20 liquid soluble fertilizer monthly should be fine. You can find this at your local garden center or nursery. Check out our Peace Lily plant care page for more info http://www.flowershopnetwork.com/blog/flower-plant-care/plant-care/peace-lily-plant-care/
    Let me know if this helps!

  10. I have a Peace Lily that is in a self watering pot which has a wick that comes out of the soil through the drainage hole and is submerged in the water in the bottom of the outter pot. The plant is elevated so it does not sit in the water. Is it OK to keep the well below the pot filled with water continuously? Or is this too much water?

  11. Are there 2 Differene peace plants? I see a different plant with tight green leaves. Mine has very lg leaves and I have had it almost 3 years. It came from a florist for my sons funereal.

  12. Jamie Woods says:

    All peace lilies are members of the Spathiphyllum genus, but there are several different species.

  13. Hi. I’ve had my piece lily now almost 8 years. Always had green tall leaves. Only flowered the first year I had it. Last winter we got a rat problem. Actually saw the rat digging in the soil of my lily and nibble the base of a leaf. The rats have been gone for almost the whole year & suddenly most of my lily turned brown and died off. My gorgeous plush lily now only has a few baby leaves. That’s all. Hasn’t formed a new leaf in months. Everything else has stayed the same. I think it’s dying. Any suggestions?

  14. Peace lilies are one of the few houseplants that can have their roots in water. You should be ok.

  15. Hello!

    Last summer I bought two peace lilies at the same time from the same source.

    One is thriving, with full, healthy leaves and a bunch of new blossoms this Spring.

    The other has been unhealthy for quite some time. It’s still alive and grows new leaves, but it’s always droopy, slightly withered, and doesn’t blossom. I’m always removing dead leaves around the bottom of the plant.

    I treated both with a gentle insecticide when I bought them because I saw some tiny brown bugs, and neither has shown any sign of bugs since. I water only when the soil is dry and use a humidifier in the winter. I treated the unhealthy plant with copper fungicide a couple of times with no results.

    The plants were in the same room but I’ve moved the sickly one to a different room. Could you please help with any suggestions why one plant is doing so well and the other, not-so-much?

  16. Jamie Woods says:

    Is there anything you do for one plant that you do not do for the other? When you had the plants in the same room, were they near one another, or is it possible that the unhealthy plant was closer to a draft or getting too much light? If the plant is withered and drooping, it could be that it requires a little more water than the healthy plant. You might try repotting the unhealthy plant. It’s possible it is rootbound. At first, this might cause the plant to seem more sickly due to transplant shock, however you may find that replanting it in a larger pot will help it thrive.

  17. Love cross stitch says:

    Can you have a peace lily in a bathroom that has plenty of moisture but NO natural light?

  18. Jamie Woods says:

    Peace lilies can survive in very low light, although they prefer natural, indirect light.

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