Peace Lily Help

abigail1280(8)April 24, 2011

I've had my peace lily for a few years now and it's done really well up until lately. I'm just curious if there's anything I can do to help it. I haven't repotted it in over a year. Honestly, I'm not sure sure how long its been, I never was really into house plants until about a year ago, and I had just watered it occasionally. Now though, in the last month, the leaves have started dying. Its still shooting out new leaves, but it hasn't bloomed in several months. I don't water it with the glass ball. It's just sorta decoration. It's currently in my living room, and about 10 feet from the window.

This was it last summer:

This is it now:

Sorry the pictures are so big. Photobucket is not cooperating with me.

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Wow, the second picture looks just like what has happened to my daughters Lily that she received from her Grandpa's funeral. The lower leaves began to die, so I clipped them. Then more leaves were dying. I decided to replant in a container 1" larger. When I removed the plant from its original container it was definitely root bound! Since I replanted it, the leaves are still droopy and some of the tips are keep turning brown. I clipped all the yellow, and removed as many dead roots as I could see. I need some help here because this plant MUST survive.... she loves this plant and is scared it won't live.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 5:23PM
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Abigail. I see a few problems going on.
Although store clerks state Peace Lily's prefer low light, they actually need medium, bright light.
10' from a window is way too dark. Basically deep shade.
Which direction is the window facing?

I see where you've cut leaves. Instead of removing leaves, cut both leaves and stem. The stems die back, leaving exposed, ugly brown stems. Cut stems as close to the soil line as possible.

Next, what size is the pot? If you don't know, using a measuring tape, measure one side of the rim of pot, directly across to the other side. Diamter equals pot size.

Peace Lily's do best, flower more, when roots are a little tight-fitting.
There are many Spath types. Mini's, 10-18" Wallisii to 6' tall, Mauna loas. Several in-betweens.
Since you haven't repotted, when you do, loosen as much soil as possible, then repot, using fresh, well-draining plus a little fertile soil, in a container 1-2 sizes larger than root ball. Not too large nor too small.
So, say your PL is in an 8" pot, and rootbound. Increase to a 9-10". If there's excess room, clean current pot, and set back in..if there's a lot of excess, 'between inner pot and rootball, decrease pot size.
1" of space between inside pot and roots is adequate.

On the other hand, as I stated, there are various PL's. Some PL's grow a certain size. Increasing pot size, with a PL that is meant to grow 'X' height, can halt leaf growth and stop flowering. Would you happen to have another name besides Peace Lily?

Keep leaves clean. Daily misting and weekly showering is a plus. Water removes dust particles..PL's need a certain amount of humidity; misting and showering provides some humidity.
A humidifer can't be beat, but not everyone has or wants to purchase one. They're worth every penny..for plants and people.

Although it's said, ailing and newly potted plants shoulddn't be fertilized, a low dose, of equally balanced fertilizer won't hurt.

Good luck..Toni

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 9:26PM
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My window is a West facing window, though I rarely have the blinds open because it just gets too hot in the evenings. Most of my plants are around this window.

The pot is a 13" pot. I honestly believe its been 2 years since I've repotted it. And I've had it for 3 years.

I have no idea what it is. I got it at Wal Mart 3 years ago as a small pathetic plant for $2. It grew quite a bit in the first two years. It's never had more than 2 blooms on it at one time though.

The summer before last, I put it out on my screened in porch. My porch is on the south side of my home and is actually built in to my home. From a distance, it just looks like I have several large windows on that side of my home, though they're just screens. The windows do not go all the way to the floor. Anyway, I put it out there, closer to the back, so it wasn't directly in the light for the most part. Our humidity is very high during the summer. Would this be a good idea again? Or should I just leave it in the house?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 12:35PM
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thirdyearbonsai(Zone 4, VT, USA)

Hi Abigail,

I think putting the plant in your porch for the summer is fine. Position it just like you did last year, out of direct sun and it will do fine.

Check out this site if you have more question about your peace lily.

-3rd yr

Here is a link that might be useful: Peace lilies

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 6:09PM
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Hi Abigail and Neovita,

Toni is right....repot in a well draining soil; adding perlite to the soil will help with proper drainage (yours looks rather heavy, Abigail). I would like to add that these plants do better in damp soil. Don't let them sit in water, but don't let the soil dry out, either.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 6:49PM
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I second the opinions of the two, above posters.

Place on your porch and water properly.

The love humidity...fresh air is a bonus.

Has it ever been fertilized? Toni

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 1:14AM
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I'm sure the soil is pretty heavy. I didn't know anything about plants 2 years ago and who knows what I planted it in. I had never heard of perlite at that point either. Now I have a bag of it since I use it for my African Violets.

Yes I have fertilized it. I used to fertilize it about every other time I watered it or so. I stopped fertilizing it during the past winter.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 10:20AM
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thirdyearbonsai(Zone 4, VT, USA)

You are definitely right to stop fertilizing during the winter months.

Trying fertilizing once a month during the growing season. From the pics it looks like there is some minor over-fertilization going on. Remember, commercial potting soil holds onto nutrients. What kind of fertilizer are you currently using?

Here is a link that might be useful: My peace lilies

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 3:55PM
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Abigail, by chance, was your PL in too cold an area, even for a short time? By cold I mean, 35-40F..

A few leaves have mars. Grayish discoloration. This could be caused by frostbite or fertilizer burn.

When you fertilize, do you use full or half-strenght? Toni

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 5:21PM
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I was using Miracle Grow, though I know now it wasn't the best fertilizer to use. I haven't done any fertilizing this year. I was planning to stop by the greenhouse today and see what they have, but they were closed ... I guess because we just got dumped on by a rain cloud :)

Over fertilizing is definitely a possibility. It couldn't be frost bite because the plant hasn't been out of my house in over a year and a half... Though last August, we were out of town for 10 days and at some point during that time, my ac went out. When we came back, the temperature was close to 100F in here, and the plant looked as though it was going to die. I gave it a good watering, and it took about 2 days for it to come back to life. After that, I moved it, and it's downward spiral began. I believe it bloomed once right after I moved it, then it hasn't bloomed since.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 2:21PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Hi, Abigail. Many, if not most of us use soluble fertilizers like MG, and do very well with them. They're easier to dose with and control what your plant is getting and when it gets it. Choosing the right ratio fertilizer or NPK %s also allows you to apply fertilizer at the lowest rate possible without your plants suffering deficiencies. This is particularly important when caring for plants like PLs and spider plants .... or any plant that doesn't tolerate high levels of salts in the soil very well.

Most spoiled foliage issues are related to watering practices or a high level of salts in the soil, and often both. These issues occur most frequently when using soils that force you to water in sips to avoid excessively wet soil conditions that persist and cause root/crown/stem rot diseases or impair root function. Using a soil that allows you to water to the point where at least 10-15% of the water you applied exits the pot without having to worry about root rot will go a very long way toward getting you to the point where you can consistently maintain attractive and healthy plants. These free draining soils work particularly well with soluble fertilizers like MG 24-8-18 or 12-4-8, and offer a much greater margin for grower error in both the watering and fertilizing depts. Coupling these soils with a little knowledge about how/when to repot, divide and pinch or prune, would undoubtedly allow you to improve your effort:reward quotient significantly.

As I look at your pictures, I see a plant that has either been over-watered, or has a high level of soluble salts in the soil. There are some things we can do to correct those conditions, but the best course would probably be to divide the plant and repot into a soil that is sure to make life easier. Just let me know if you want more information in either of those directions, and I'll do my best to help you get back on track.

I look at husbandry (tending plants) in a very holistic way. I consider every planting as a system, put together in a manner I know will almost ensure the issues that most people are looking to get fixed, never happen in the first place. It's not that difficult if you have a little determination. ;o)


    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 5:06PM
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Hmm, ok. What do you recommend for a soil mixture?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 5:37PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Heavy ('heavy' means water-retentive) soils that have a lot of small particles like peat/compost/coir/sand/compost retain a lot of perched water, which is water that stays in the soil at the bottom of the pot & won't drain by gravity alone. Because the air spaces between the particles (when the soil is dry) are so small, they easily become filled with water when you water, driving all the air from the soil and killing the finest roots that are growing in this transitional soil. The transition back & forth from soggy to dry, allows roots to regenerate when the soil dries down, but kills them again when you water & the bottom pf the pot again becomes saturated. This cycle of death & regeneration of roots is very expensive in terms of energy outlay, sapping energy for root regeneration the plant could have allocated to blooms, fruit, foliage, or a general increase in o/a mass.

You can't effectively amend a soil comprised of fine particles by adding a few large particles & expect to reap the benefits of a highly aerated soil that holds no, or little perched water. A soil needs to be comprised primarily of large particles, or it retains the drainage characteristics of the fine particles, and it also supports approximately the same height perched water table as the fine particles.

There are a few soils available at retail that have pine bark fines as the largest fraction of their make-up. These soils are excellent at holding ample volumes of air and providing a very healthy environment for roots. With roots being the heart of the plant, and holding significant sway over determining in what state of vitality the plant will carry on its business, we have a vested interest in making sure the roots are as happy as they can be - as happy as we can make them.

I began researching soils more than 20 years ago, and found the more air I could build into my soils, the better the plants liked it, and the easier it was for me to keep them thriving and growing strong. I also discovered that plants growing with top vitality are also unlikely to contract diseases or be attacked by insects, their defense mechanisms being closely linked to their metabolism. These soils allow you to water correctly w/o worrying about root rot, and since you can water freely at will, they virtually eliminate accumulating salts.

Fafard makes 3 soils that are good, if you can find them. Their #3 mix, their 51L mix, or their nursery mix would all be good choices. You can also make your own from ingredients you should be able to find locally, though the initial search may leave you wondering at first. ;o)

If you're truly interested, I suggest you read up on the idea at the link below. If you have questions or want to chase it further, just ask there or hear & I or someone else will offer all the help we can. A LOT of people, as you will see if you follow the link, have embraced the concept and are having excellent results. Personally, I left heavy, peat-based soils behind many years ago and have been growing in bark-based or gritty soil's ever since, w/o a single look back over my shoulder.

The thread I linked to below has been active since 2005, and has not quite 2,000 posts to its credit, so you can be sure others are finding value in the info it contains. I'm not asking you to read it for any reason other than the fact that I think there is a lot of potential for you to take a significant step forward in the satisfaction you get from growing, if you don't already understand the concept. It's helped so many people, it's not unreasonable to think it would help you, too. .... always available for questions or comments.

Take care.


Here is a link that might be useful: More info about container soils here.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 9:23PM
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