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Help! My Peace Lily Has Caterpillars

Ask The Expert: I have two peace lillies. I had the two of them sitting in my kitchen sink to spray the leaves today. I noticed lots of insects that look like baby caterpilars…brown or black in color. What can I do about them, and could that be why the plant doesn’t seem to be growing? Lisa

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:
You can do one of two things: pick off the caterpillars or spray them with an insecticide. I use the Fertilome Red Spider and Mite spray. It Kills Red Spiders Mites, Two Spotted Spider Mites, Whiteflies, Mealybugs, Aphids, Thrips and Scale Crawlers on house plants and is safe to use on peace lilies and a multitude of other houseplants. It comes in a ready to use (rtu) form, so all you have to do is spray it on the plant. You can pick this product up at any local garden center. If they don’t have the Fertilome brand ask the nursery professional what they use.

As for the stunted growth of your Peace lily (Spathiphyllum clevelandii), you may need to fertilize the plants. You can use a water soluble fertilizer once a month. It is best to use a balanced fertilizer – one in which the N, P, and K all have the same ratio like 10-10-10 or 20-20-20. If you can’t find a balanced fertilizer try one in which the number are as close as possible like 9-8-5.

Make sure you are keeping your peace lily evenly moist and that it has good drainage. Keeping your moisture level correct is a big part of keeping a peace lily healthy.

Here are a few Peace Lily Requirements

Peace Lily Care: Light Requirements

Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum) prefers bright filtered natural light. However, the peace lily is tolerant of low light levels making it an excellent houseplant. It can be used outdoors in warm humid areas with filtered light or partial shade. Exposure to direct light may cause yellowing leaves with a burnt appearance.

Peace Lily Care: Water Requirements

Peace Lilies (Spathiphyllum) prefers an evenly moist environment. For plants grown in soil, drainage is important; your peace lily pot should have drain holes. Watering your peace lily once a week is usually sufficient. However, when the plant is grown in low light levels or cooler temperatures water requirements may be less. Water requirements may increase with brighter light levels or warmer temperatures and during periods of rapid growth; use tepid water when watering or misting.

Testing the soil before watering by sticking finger in soil up to first knuckle can help you determine the need for water – if soil is moist don’t water. Placing the peace lily in high humidity or creating a humid environment is beneficial to the plant. Peace Lilies are good candidates for hydroponics. Peace lilies are susceptible to chlorine damage; let chlorine evaporate from tap water before using or use distilled water. Over-watering may cause leaves to turn yellow and under-watering may cause plants to wilt and the leaf edges to turn yellow or brown.


  1. How sad to think about killing them with poison…our world insect population is already in dire straights…why not think about how bushy the plant will grow back once the caterpillars are finished…it’s time to stop our backward thinking .

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