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White Sticky Residue On Peace Lily Soil

Ask the Expert: Can you help with soil condition of spaths?

We purchased 4 spath gigantica plants for our church @ Easter. The soil on all has a white sticky residue that makes the water milky. Leaves are dark green with new growth of white ‘flowers’ so it plants appear healthy. Any idea what’s wrong with soil and will it eventually affect plant?
Thanks for any info.  Carol


  1. Carol,

    I’m a little confused. Peace lilies can get aphids and mealy bugs which cause a sticky substance and they can get a fungus but neither should cause the water to become milky. Without seeing the substance I can’t tell if it will cause problems with the plants. Can you email me a photo of the substance? Send it to jadams@flowershopnetwork.com. In the mean time look at the under side of the leaves and on the lower stems. Do you see any moving bumps (aphids) or cottony white material (scale or mealy bugs). If so you need to spray the plants with an insecticidal soap. This will take care of the insects and any sticky substance they are producing. Please keep me posted.

  2. Carol Varnum says:

    I tried taking a picture, but it didn’t clearly show soil problem. I removed most of the white sticky stuff (felt like loose putty) from top soil; checked the leaves & stems and found none of the problem possibilities you mentioned. Noticed more new growth of both flowers and leaves, so maybe I just assumed there was a problem as the excess water coming out bottom drainage holes still look milky. As a preventive, I’ll spray as you suggested and will try to repot with new soil.

    Many thanks for responding to my question. Your blog is very helpful to this amateur caretaker of church plants.