Skip to main content

Plant of the Week: Spathiphyllus, AKA peace lilies

The most crucial part of getting a new plant is ensuring that you know how to provide it with the environment it needs to thrive. But, of course, not every plant requires the same care, and although we would consider the peace lily a beginner-friendly plant, it needs more attention than more common houseplants. So let’s dive into what a peace lily is and how to care for it.

peace lily in bloom
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What is a peace lily?

The peace lily, or spathiphyllum, is a tropical evergreen native to Central America and Southeast Asia. Although their nickname includes lily, it isn’t a true lily. This part of the nickname comes from their blooms looking like a calla lily. The second part of the nickname is in reference to “the white flag of peace.” These flag-like blooms happen more often when the plant is exposed to a bit of direct sunlight.

The plant can grow up to 16 inches tall when grown indoors, but you can move the plant outside during the summer months. Just remember to bring it back in when winter rolls around.

How to care for a peace lilies

Avoid feeling nervous when you bring your new spathiphyllus home and check out these care tips you can use to provide your peace lily with the best care possible.

Water

The peace lily should be kept moist but never soggy or dry. It’s a pretty drought-tolerant plant and will droop its leaves to let you know it’s getting dry and needs a drink. If the plant experiences excessive dryness, the tips of the leaves will brown.

Light

These are shade-loving plants, and in their natural habitat, they grow on the dark forest floor. To mimic this lighting, place the plant in a spot where it will get medium to bright indirect light. The leaves will burn with direct sunlight, but a mild amount of direct sunlight can encourage your plant to bloom those iconic “white flag” flowers.

Food

Feed your peace lily with balanced indoor plant fertilizer. Apply it during the spring and summer but hold off during those colder winter months when the plant is likely not doing much growing.

peace lily on plant stand
Max Williams / Unsplash

Temperature

Temperatures ranging between 60 and 80 degrees are excellent for this plant. However, dramatic changes in the temperature around the plant will damage or even kill it. So avoid putting a peace lily near a vent, drafty windows, and doors.

Humidity

Since this plant is a tropical plant, it will prefer ample amounts of humidity, but it can survive in our homes’ average humidity levels. However, if you want this plant to thrive and live its best life, we recommend putting it by a humidifier or maybe in a bathroom where humidity levels tend to be higher.

Toxicity

The peace lily is considered toxic to both humans and animals, so be sure to put it in a location where smaller humans and furry babies cant reach them. Symptoms that you’ll see if this plant is ingested are extreme drooling, vomiting, or trouble swallowing. In addition, it’s recommended that humans wear gloves when cutting or working with the plant to avoid the sap touching their skin and causing irritation.

Additional care

The most common issue with peace lilies is sudden droopy leaves. While these can be alarming at first, it’s simply the plant telling you that it needs water. You don’t want the leaves to drop every time they need water, so it’s best to water the plant before the leaves droop.

The second most common issue is yellowing leaves. Yellow leaves mean the opposite problem of drooping leaves. It means your plant has been overwatered and is likely suffering from root rot or will be pretty soon. When you see yellow leaves, don’t water the plant until the soil is on the dryer side. We recommend investing in a moisture meter to avoid these often devastating symptoms. This tool will allow you to accurately measure the amount of water in the soil and correctly inform you when you should be watering the plant.

This elegant plant is a joy to grow indoors, and we’re sure you’ll love having it in your collection. Be sure to keep the soil moist and avoid a lot of direct sunlight, and your peace lily will be a happy plant!

Editors' Recommendations

Rebecca Wolken
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Rebecca's has written for Bob Villa and a Cincinnati based remodeling company. When she's not writing about home remodeling…
The 7 best houseplants for allergies
These hypoallergenic plants will brighten up your space without triggering allergies
Shelves of air purifying plants

Those who experience allergies of any kind know they don't disappear when you head indoors. Pollen gets tracked in and dust accumulates. Still, you can potentially lessen the effects of allergies so long as you avoid flowering plants. Without further ado, here are the best houseplants for allergies.

How can a plant be hypoallergenic?
According to Dr. Sanjeev Jain, houseplants can filter the air as they produce oxygen; however, if you’re someone with seasonal or environmental allergies caused by pollen, you’ll want to fill your home with non-flowering plants.

Read more
How to successfully grow a passion flower indoors
Caring for a passion flower plant
Close up photo of a purple, yellow, and white passion flower

Native to Central and South America, the passion flower is a gorgeous and Instagram-worthy plant that’s often grown in gardens. For gardeners who are low on outdoor space or live in an area too cold for these tropical plants, then growing passion flower indoors is a must! The beautiful flowers are easy to care for, even indoors, and make great additions to both homes and greenhouses. If you’re wondering how to maintain a passion flower indoors, keep reading ahead to find out!

Why you would want to grow a passion flower plant
The passion flower has been used in both edible and topical products and ailments. Its health effects haven’t been researched extensively, but the passion flower and its fruit have long been promoted for helping with anxiety and sleep problems in addition to soothing pain and skin irritation. Beyond its potential benefits, the passion flower is also a gorgeous climbing vine. It consists of wiry stems with dark green leaves that fan out and short-stalked flowers with a saucer shape and oval buds. Each fragrant flower has five to 10 petals surrounding colorful filaments and golden anthers — the varieties differ mostly by color, though you'll most commonly find these plants in shades of purple and blue. Outdoor passion flowers yield two-inch orange fruit, but indoor plants seldom produce fruit.

Read more
How to keep your plants watered while you’re on vacation
Keeping your plants hydrated while you're away
A potted begonia with other small potted plants and a watering can inside on a table

When you're planning for a vacation, you've got to take care of a few things: buying the ticket, updating your passport, packing your bags, and for the houseplant enthusiast, coming up with a watering plan for all of your plants! While some drought tolerant plants may be able to handle a few missed, you'll need to take extra care if you leave your home during the summer or have foliage with high watering needs like ferns! If you're wondering how to water plants on vacation, then you're in luck. There are plenty of options available, so you can relax on your vacation without stressing about your plants.

Water your plants before you leave
For short trips under a week, you can probably get away with simply watering your plants before you leave. While you don't want to drown any roots, give your plants a thorough soaking, draining any excess water once the soil feels completely wet. If you keep your plants in a bright area, move them into a shadier spot, whether they're inside or outside. For outdoor plants, add mulch to make sure that your plants retain moisture throughout the week.

Read more