Peace Lily -Black Leaves

sylvanJanuary 23, 2007

This is a repost from 2005! I've reviewed every thread I could find on this subject and am not much wiser. The specific question of Peace Lily leaves turning black hasn't been directly addressed -- I would like to know what it is (different from yellowing leaves or brown tips) and what can be done for it. The same little plant is limping along, while its neighbors are thriving.

Original post:

Here's another Peace Lily problem....As context, I have a small one at home where I break all the rules and it has flourished for years (potbound, overwatered, underwatered, drafts, erratic light, you name it), and I have a larger one at work that just keeps on being happy.

I have a small one at work, in the same conditions as the happy one, which keeps getting black areas spreading in from the edges of some of the leaves. I snap the offending leaves off at the base. New growth keeps coming, some develop the black areas and some don't.

I recently re-potted it, same pot but fresh potting soil (MiracleGro). It didn't seem to notice the repotting at all but continues to put out new leaves, some healthy and some sick.

I haven't been able to find a picture or description of the black leaf ailment. Any clues? Thanks a bunch.

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Is the plant in contact with a frosty window? The only thing I could think of is frost damage.I have one on an enclosed porch that gets erratic black areas when the temperture drops below frezzing or the leaves touch a cold window

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 2:56PM
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Nope, no frost. Under office fluorescent lights, where it thrived for years before it took sick. I thought maybe fungus, but dry air is more a problem than damp is.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 4:15PM
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tjsangel(z5 OH)

The only other thing I could think of is rot. Has the plant been overwatered? You can check if the stems or leaves are mushy.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 5:02PM
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Nope, not rot either. I am going to test the possibility that it is chemicals from the water or fertilizer -- will drench it with distilled water and see what happens. I have read that fluoride in water can cause browning tips, which happens with all my plants but is something I can live with at $1.29 for a gallon of distilled water.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 10:36AM
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There are those on this forum who swear that leaving water out at least overnite will dissipate chlorine enough to eliminate brown tips. I'm not sure if it helps or not, but keeping an open gallon of water around is a lot cheaper than distilled. Sandy

Sorry, I can't help with the black leaves. Think I'd be inclined to check roots for rot though.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 5:44PM
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A few reasons leaves can turn black, over-watering/pot too big/heavy soil, cold, mold/fungus problem, possible pest problem, or, over-feeding.
I don't feed plants in winter, only in the spring and summer months and only using half or less strength now and then.

Billy Rae

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 8:32PM
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Thanks to everyone....I have given the baby its second drenching with distilled water, will see where that goes. The roots were healthy when I repotted it a year and a half ago, I will check again. It might be a too-big-pot issue.

Why do we think we have to perform extraordinary life-preserving efforts instead of tossing the sick plant and getting a new one for ten bucks? But that's another thread................

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 9:33AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You should do a little research on plant diseases, as well. We forget that, sometimes, in our efforts to find a causal agent that we might be able to 'fix' easily.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 9:43AM
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Remember, if the plant "absolutely" needs re-potting, only go up one pot size.
I think some of us perform extraordinary life-preserving efforts in order to save the plant if possible, and to learn by the experience, to get it right.

Billy Rae

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 1:45PM
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Rhizo -- I've done some (web) research on plant diseases -- fungus was the only picture that came close, but conditions don't seem to be what fungus wants -- air is dry, no crowding, etc. I have drenched it and moved it to a different part of the building entirely for the weekend, cool, dry, and less light.

Billy Rae, thanks for pointing out the learning experience of struggling with plants -- that's a good point.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 3:35PM
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A week later....I read about root rot on another current Peace Lily thread and knocked the plant out of its pot to check. Roots are healthy, but obviously the pot is way too big. So the next step will be to "pot it down." I'll prune it back too, and baby it along for a while with no feeding, reduced light, and careful watering schedule (dry out then drench). It's now become an educational project, as Billy Ray suggests :-) I will report back on my success.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 10:32AM
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About the water...I use a Brita (a water pitcher with a filter). I'm sure that helps a lot to "cleanse" the water, and I don't have to go poor buying distilled water. I just use tap water and fill the pitcher up with it. I'm not sure how much a Brita/Britta (?) costs, but it's not too expensive and lasts just have to change the filter every now and then. Anyone else use this?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 1:11PM
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I once had a peace lily. I kept it living for seven years and then it died. I had others but they all died after the leaves began turning black one after another.
Looking back I think I slowly drowned them. I though high humidity meant lots of water.
My mother has a peace lily with the same problem and she does have a tendancy for overwatering. On the contrary, my mother-in-law who underwaters all her plants had a beautiful one which she gave to me and I killed.
So are you sure you are not overwatering? Let it dry up a bit more before you water again. Who knows...

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 2:22PM
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The only similar situation I can recall with mine was from overwatering and root rot, and underwatering , which can also kills roots "presents" differently than rotting roots does.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2007 at 7:48AM
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(dry out then drench)


You don't want it to let the soil completely "dry out" Let the top inch or so feel a little less than "slightly moist" to the touch before watering again.
Of course, your pot size along with good draining soil plays a HUGE role in the outcome of your success.
I'm so glad you will be downsizing, that will make a difference!

Billy Rae

    Bookmark   February 2, 2007 at 3:58PM
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Progress report on what is now my Peace Lily Experiment.

A month ago I "potted down", drenched the plant with distilled water, and put it in limited light for a couple of weeks. I let it nearly dry out -- not totally -- before resuming regular watering. A couple of weeks ago I returned it to its old home (under office fluorescents all day). It was pale, leggy, and sparse after having every single imperfect leaf removed, but has lost no leaves at all and is regaining its healthy color. No new growth yet.

And I still don't know what the black stuff is.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2007 at 9:13AM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

I don't know what the black stuff is either, but every time I see it, it is on a plant that has been consistently overwatered. I never see it on plants that stay on the dry side. So I'm guessing it's either caused by root rot or a fungus. I've never had one come back very nicely once the spotting starts.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2007 at 10:21PM
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You're probably right, watergirl. Sigh. I'll coax it through spring and if it doesn't bounce back I'll write it off as education.

Thanks, everyone....If it does revive I'll let you know

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 10:01AM
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Happy ending! Not only is this plant regaining its nice green color, it is putting out new growth and *two flower buds*! I have to attribute this to repotting it into a smaller pot. The learning experience is more valuable than the plant, and I hope it helps someone else:

Peace Lily wants to be pot-bound!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 11:01AM
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It's very cold here (snow temperture 10 degrees) and i transported a healthy beautiful green leaf day lilly without covering it up. The next day the leaves turned black but they are not wilted nor do they feel dry. Its been 3 days now and it looks the same. At this point im going to give it some to see what happens before doing anything and I will continue to water as needed. Will let you know what happens, maybe it will come back on its own.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 12:46AM
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Sylvan and everybody,

Thank you for the helpful tips. I am having the exactly same issue as Sylvan, and I do admit that the pot is way too big. I will repot it into a smaller pot this weekend. Thank you so much!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 2:39PM
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This thread has been very enlightening for me, too. I received a bonzai camelia in a small container as a gift a couple of months ago, and not knowing what to do with the little pebbles it came with, I placed them on top of the soil and put the plant on the kitchen counter near the sink by a window. It looks really nice, but the leaves have been turning black and dropping off and it's looking very leggy now. Perhaps the pebbles are keeping too much moisture in the soil? Clearly I cannot see the soil surface with them there, so I'm thinking I should remove them and follow suggestions from all of you. Thanks much!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 10:02PM
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I have a Peace Lily (16 years old) that was given to me, when my mother died, in 1998. Needless to say, it is very dear to me and I would hate to lose it. I keep it at my office under fluorescent lights. Every once and a while, she will get a black leaf but here lately it has gotten worse. I agree with the previous post - I think it's because of over watering. Also, it looks like the previous post in this forum is telling me that they do not like big pots so I need to get mine back into a smaller pot. Just for additional information, at one time mine was almost dead and I was heartbroken. A friend told me to cut every single leaf off - cut right down to the soil and repot. I did at the time and it came back absolutely beautiful. I hope this helps. God bless.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 7:14PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Grow it outside in a shady spot as soon as threat of frost/freeze has passed. You will think a miracle occurred. They grow beautifully outside. They love warmth, indirect sunlight and humidity.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 9:28PM
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Sylvan and company: Thank you! I will try the downsizing and careful watering. I got my Peace Lily as a wedding present 21 years ago--I really, really don't want this baby to die. It is at work now as my kittens bit the poor thing to shreds. So, seeing as it had some black leaves (as well as fang marks) I researched about black leaves and changed the soil and, oops, enlarged the pot. Now it is putting out lovely little green leaves--which are turning black and brittle.
Another peace lily at work got frozen during a power outage last year. Its leaves turned black and many fell off/were pruned, but it looks great now. We are kind people, who hate to see something killed--that's why we struggle with these plants. A 6-foot tall dracaena at work was locked in an unused office for a month or so and nearly died, but I've been watering it and it is sprouting new growth. I feel great! :-)

    Bookmark   March 5, 2015 at 8:03AM
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MsGreenFinger GW(8 Ireland)

If not from the cold, black leaf (tips) are sign of overwatering. What kind of soil did you use when you repotted and did you remove the old soil from the roots?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2015 at 4:45PM
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