Help with my Peace Lily

mninvDecember 29, 2007

Hello everyone I have a Peace Lily and last month the leaves began to turn brown and then yellow and die. Not all the leaves only a few at a time. The plant is starting new growth but some of the new leaves start out green and then turn brown. This is not just the tips of the leaves it starts there but slowly works down towards the stem finally turning yellow. The brown parts of the leaves also are dried out and crumble.

I repotted it about four months ago and it apeared to be doing well. The plant was root bound in the old pot and I went about two inches larger. The mother plant apears to be not doing well it only has a few leaves left on it the others are also loosing leaves but not as many.

I know all the facts about watering, not to use direct out of tap, not to overwater, and to not overwater, letting the plant dry out a little between.

What could be the problem. Winter has begun but I'm not letting it dry out nor get too cold. I'm even misting the plant daily to keep it humid.

Please help

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Misting might be keeping the soil wetter than you think and really, misting only keeps the leaves clean and this plant does well without it anyway.

If your watering methods, pot size and drainage is all good, maybe all your peace lily needs is more brighter indirect light with some dapple sun.
It's best to keep them on the snug side with the root-ball having an inch to spare all the way around inside the pot.

Water enough until it comes out the drain holes, (I use tap water) Right size pot, it shouldn't be a problem with tap water, maybe a couple with just a little brown on the tips, the rest green. Spill out any excess. Water well after the top "inch or two" starts to feel close to drying. They like bright indirect light, dapple light, no hot direct sun.
Again, make sure the soil is well draining and the pot's not too big. A pot two inches bigger might be too much soil, either drying, or staying too wet down below.

Peace lily plants on right I've had for about 17 yrs.

Billy Rae

    Bookmark   December 29, 2007 at 10:04PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

It really sounds like a root rot issue to me. Did your plant have a too dry major wilt a while back? That can damage roots for the future. Perhaps the soil you used when you repotted holds a lot of water. Ideally, the top of the soil should be dry or very nearly so before you water again. The best advice about these plants is to water the day before they wilt!

I'm not sure you can salvage them, but if you want, knock them out of the pot, check for brown, mushy, smelly roots, cut those off, and repot in a tight pot with a well draining soil. Good luck and report back to us!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2007 at 7:50AM
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Had a customer bring in a couple Spathiphyllum a few days ago with scorched leaves all over the place. The top two or three inches of the soil was dry and crumbly, and everything below that was wet wet wet wet wet. I concur with greattigerdane and watergal -- it's almost got to be a drainage / wet soil issue.

If it were my plant, I would pull it back out and check the soil at the bottom. It does sound like you did everything more or less right, in that you didn't move it up into too much larger of a pot and all that, but even so:

1) there could be soil or something blocking the drainage holes, or the drainage holes could be too small or few to begin with.
2) the pot could be too tall, or the plant replanted too high, so that the rootball is now sitting on a layer of soil that never dries out, continually wicking water up to the rootball.
3) the soil mix doesn't have enough grit (coarse sand, perlite, aquarium gravel, Turface, kitty litter) mixed in, so it holds water too well.

Things that could be done:

-Remix the soil with added grit.
-Put the plant in a clay pot instead (clay will breathe, and the plant will dry out faster and more uniformly).
-Unblock any blocked drainage holes, or drill several new ones (this is difficult with clay or ceramic pots, but easy enough with plastic)
-Set the plant lower in the pot.

You could also wait it out and see if the plant comes around, though I don't recommend this: it might work, but you might also just get to watch the plant continue to decline until it dies.

Burnt leaves won't come back, so trim them in whatever way makes you happy.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2007 at 8:24AM
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OK I pulled my plant out and the soil was moist but not drenched. The roots apeared to be OK. I looked the best I could without disturbing them too much. I'm going to remix the soil with some gravel. I used Mirical Gro potting mix I was told that it would be good for the peace lily. I will also plant it lower in the pot. There was about three inches below the root ball. I'll plant it down about two more inches. On a good note the roots do look good and I see that they are starting to branch out. No rot was observed and they didn't smell bad.

Wish me luck and if you have any more advise please share.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2007 at 4:40PM
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Miracle Gro tends to be a heavy, wet mix by itself: it has a lot of peat in it, which holds water for a long time. For a peace lily, that could be an okay soil base, though, since they don't like to dry out all that much. So whoever told you Miracle Gro would be good for a peace lily wasn't wrong, in my opinion; it's just that you'd still need to mix something in that won't hold as much water, especially in a big pot, and especially in a plastic pot.

Well, and it's more about Spathiphyllum being a good plant for the mix, rather than the other way around: if you have to use Miracle Gro, Spathiphyllum is a good plant to use it on. If that makes any sense. Which it may not.

For what it's worth, I wouldn't worry that much about disturbing the roots: I usually make a point of pulling them loose from the root ball, just to give them kind of a head start on spreading out into the new soil, and I can't say I've ever noticed them even being droopy the next day. Spathiphyllum and Ficus almost always handle repotting well, for me, except for the one time I put some peace lilies in a container without drainage, which you should never never never never never do.

Best of luck with the repotting.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2007 at 6:27PM
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Thanks for the quick reply

"Well, and it's more about Spathiphyllum being a good plant for the mix, rather than the other way around: if you have to use Miracle Gro, Spathiphyllum is a good plant to use it on. If that makes any sense. Which it may not."

I have no clue what you just said but I think I may be OK with my choice of soil.

Another note while re-potting I noticed that there were these small round balls mixed into the soil. These balls were filled with water and pop when crushed. Are these from the plant or the soil? This might be why the soil is holding alot more water. Also the soil was moist enough to hold together when squeezed. Is this OK?

P.S. I put a layer of gravel on the botom and also mixed in fish bowl gravel with the soil.


    Bookmark   December 30, 2007 at 6:56PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

I agree w/ Mr. S abt not worrying abt disturbing the roots. When I unpot to check roots, I spread them out w/ my fingers, sort of the same idea as Mr S, gives them a good start to gather nutirients from the repot.

Also spreading them out really lets you get a better look what's going on it the rootball itself, not just on its outside. I also go by smell sometimes, so it's encouraging that you say it doesn't smell of rot.

My opinion, better to disturb them & really see what's going on.

Tho' I liked to grow these, I've stopped as I can't seem to get a grip in its preferred watering.

Yet I've cared for them well in offices, a giant Mauna Loa that was spectacular at the reception area of a law firm & some smaller ones in other offices.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2007 at 6:57PM
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'Mauna Loa' and 'Sensation' and etc. rock. Much friendlier plants than the smaller varieties, even if the smaller plants flower more.

The "balls" in the soil are time-release fertilizer. Miracle Gro mixes them in so that the soil is being continually fertilized every time you water, which is why they advertise bigger, healthier, stronger plants if you use their soil. (Is it true? Ennh. Doubtful.) Don't pop the balls on purpose -- you'd have to pop a lot of them for it to matter, but releasing all the fertilizer at once has the potential to cause problems for the plant.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2007 at 7:19PM
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greenelbows1(z9--so LA)

I'm concerned about the layer of gravel you put in the bottom of the pot. We used to be advised to do that 'for drainage', and in fact still are sometimes, but in fact it has exactly the opposite effect. It stops drainage. And I would say next time, not so important as to bother now, you could add perlite or fine composted bark to the MG or other heavy mix for better aeration and drainage. If the only perlite you can find is that practically dust-fine stuff that shows up too often, use bark. Coarse perlite is probably best.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2007 at 11:55PM
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I agree with Greenelbows, get rid of the gravel, it can cause rotting problems. Use the smallest pot you can and add Perlite to the mix.

Billy Rae

    Bookmark   January 1, 2008 at 11:17AM
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I have a similar problem-I left mine out during the cold rains here in israel & the leaves seemed to have burnt.The stems r green, do I pull them out or cut them all the way down & hope for the best. Can I make my own perlite?\

    Bookmark   January 12, 2011 at 1:25PM
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