The Peace Lily Spathiphyllum has a shiny green, oval leaf pointed at the end (ovate) about 5-10” (12-25cm) long that emerges straight from the soil. They will commonly be 12- 16’ (30-40cm) tall and wide and can reach 3’+ (.90m) in height and width with time and care. This is a tropical plant from under the rain forest canopy of Central and South America. It will do well with little light and is one of the few houseplants that will flower in low light. The Peace Lily is not a true Lily but belongs to the Araceae family. It is abundantly available due to easy care and will last for years. As an added bonus it will clean the pollutants from the air in your home.
Light and Temperature
Peace Lilies do well away from a window as they do not tolerate direct sunlight. You may need to place them closer to your light source through the winter months and filter the sun depending upon where you live and the intensity and number of sunny days you receive. To see sunshine averages in your area follow this link. Sometimes you will see light recommendations by foot candles. They tolerate 20 fc. and flower in 50 fc. They flourish in high humidity and do not care for drafts. Day temperatures of 70-80 degrees F and night temperatures from 65 degrees F (never below) are ideal.
Through the summer months keep the soil evenly moist, never soggy. Soggy soil will attract pest problems. Let the soil dry only 1-2” down then run a lot of water through to flush the minerals. Remove any water from the tray it sits on. You could give an occasional misting when flowers are forming which will help deter pests and encourage blooms. Cut back on the water from Oct. – Feb. but never let the soil dry out completely. Peace Lilies can be sensitive to chlorine. Letting your watering can sit overnight will help remove chlorine but will not remove chloramine which some municipality’s now add to the water.
They like a rich soil, 1 part aged compost, 1 part humus, 2 parts coarse builders sand or bark fines would make a nice soil based mix for this plant. Use 1 part sphagnum peat, l part perlite and 1 part pine bark or vermiculite for a soilless mix. Soil that will hold moisture, is light and drains well will keep the roots healthy.
Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer every 2-3 weeks through the summer months. Use fertilizer at half strength in winter watching for brown tips on the leaves anytime which may be a sign of too much fertilizer.
The Peace Lily has subtly fragrant, waxy flowers intermittently throughout the year depending on the species. Floating above the foliage they are sent up on a stem from the soil just like the leaves but this leaf-like form called a spathe, 4-6” (10-15cm) long, begins a soft green and becomes various shades of white and back to green as it matures. This showy spathe curves around a cluster of tiny flowers that are white, yellow or greenish. This is a long lasting flower and the more light the plant receives the more flowers it will produce. You are virtually assured of flowers even in low light which is unusual for a flowering houseplant. Failure to produce flowers could be a need for fertilizer.
Pests and Problems
Peace Lilies are susceptible to Spider Mites, Aphids, and Scale. When you water is a good time to inspect your leaves, especially the underside. Look for the tiny webs of the spider mite, the cottony covering of the aphid or the brown shell of the scale. If you see evidence it is best to take care of pest problems immediately.
Yellow or curling leaves can be an indication of too strong sun.
Drooping leaves is a good indication of the plant needing water. It will bounce back quickly with a good soaking. Do not let it stand in water, empty the tray it sits on when the water has run through.
Propagate by division when re-potting. The root system has rhizomes (picture fresh ginger root only smaller) that travel sideways and send up new shoots. When you take the plant from the pot, the best time is spring, gently remove as much soil as you can either with a small stick or water. You will see places where you can cut through, with a very sharp, clean knife, and divide one plant into several. Each piece must have a tuber (thick section of root) with new sprouts (buds) of leaves and some small roots to give the new section a good start. This is a great time to prune away any brown or rotted roots. Plant the new plants the same depth as before.
They will set seed with pollination. To propagate from seed you will need to create warm humid tropical rain forest conditions. Begin with a light, fast draining soil mix (combine equal parts of sphagnum peat moss, wood chips like those used for orchids, and compost. To this add an equal amount of good potting mix designed to hold moisture.) and spread the seeds on top. They should fall into the soil if the medium is light enough. Cover your container with plastic (or something clear) to hold in the humidity and your seeds should germinate in 1-2 weeks. Give them a little fresh air now and again to prevent bacterial growth. A few transplants and a few years later you should have a nice plant.
The Peace Lily can be grown hydroponically.
If you have done some remodeling in your home or if you just want to remove pollutants from your air the Peace Lily will help.
As well as carbon dioxide, it removes benzene (used to make plastics, nylon, rubber, detergents, etc), formaldehyde (used in plastics, auto stuff, fabrics, paint, etc.), trichloroethylene (dry cleaning solvent – being phased out, degreaser –being phased out), xylene (used in plastic bottles, polyester fabric, ink, solvents in leather and printing industries, paint and varnish, agriculture, etc), toluene (paint, silicone, etc) and ammonia. Amazing. There are hidden things all around us and the Peace Lily has fantastic purification rates and is a great humidifier.