The Peace Lily has become one of the most favored houseplants of our day. Perhaps no other commonly grown interior plant offers so much beauty in return for so little. It readily survives in very low light situations, it produces an abundance of glossy, dark green foliage, and it regularly adorns itself with dramatic white blossoms. With the current surge in popularity of these specimens, caring for peace lily plants is a timely topic.
Peace Lily Background
Peace Lilies, botanically known as Spathiphyllum, are members of the Aroid family, which includes such other familiar flowers and plants as Anthurium, Calla, Philodendron, Dieffenbachia, and Chinese Evergreen. Most of the Aroids are indigenous to the warm and shady forest floors of the tropics. Thus, they are well-adapted to the low light levels and comfortable room temperatures found in most homes.
Peace Lily Lighting
Even among shade-loving Aroids, Peace Lilies are most tolerant of reduced light. They’ll even flourish under the completely artificial flourescent lighting commonly found in offices and commercial spaces, although their preference is for bright, filtered, natural light. This makes caring for Peace Lily plants relatively easy.
Watering A Peace Lily
As far as watering is concerned, Peace Lilies prefer an evenly moist soil. Most people find that they can water their plants once a week, depending of course on light and temperature conditions. At lower light levels or cooler temperatures, any plant will use less water than when it is more actively growing. Use room temperature water. Soil should never be soggy, and plants should never stand in a saucer filled with water. Peace Lilies should also never be allowed to completely dry out, which will result in wilting of the plant, death of the tiny root hairs which conduct water to the plant, and subsequent yellowing or browning of the leaf edges.
Peace Lilies do exhibit a sensitivity to chlorine in the water, so in metropolitan areas where it may be heavily chlorinated, it’s best to allow the water to stand overnight to allow the chlorine to dissipate before watering the plants.
Fertilizing A Peace Lily
Fertilizing is another important factor in caring for Peace Lily plants. The soil in any given container will become depleted of nutrients over time as the plant grows. So it’s a good idea to help replenish it by feeding the plant once a month or so, during the growing season, with any standard house plant fertilizer, such as 20-20-20, at one-quarter the recommended dilution rate. The delicate root hairs as well as the edges of a Peace Lily’s leaves can burn if the fertilizer is too strong.
Repot the plant every year or two in a rich soil consisting of equal parts of loam, peat moss, and sand.
Peace Lilies & Pests
Peace Lilies are rather resistant to most insect pests. An occasional infestation of mealy bugs may show up, and can be easily treated by wiping with rubbing alcohol and spraying with insecticidal soap. Because these plants have broad evergreen leaves, they benefit from having their foliage regularly wiped with a damp sponge to remove dust.
Peace Lilies Provide Clean Air
It’s interesting to note that in caring for Peace Lily plants, we are also helping them to care for us! Spathiphyllums were among the top ten plants in the Clean Air Study conducted by NASA, and were shown to be highly effective at removing formaldehyde, benzine, and carbon monoxide from the air, thus fighting “Sick Building Syndrome”.
Peace Lily Options
Peace Lilies have been extensively hybridized in recent years, so that now we have many more choices among the varieties. “Flower Power” is a new introduction which, as its name suggests, is a prolific bloomer. “Sensation” is a huge plant, potentially becoming 6 feet or more across, with bold, dark green, ribbed foliage; quite effective in interior-scaping. “Domino” is a variegated type, with irregular white splashes mottling its thickened leaves. Check with your local professional florist for these and other varieties, and bring home a breath of fresh air, courtesy of the durable Peace Lily.