The Q&A Archives: Identification

Question: I received a plant this Mother's Day from a friend and he neglected to ask the name of the plant. It is huge with great big, green , long leaves. They are generally straight edged but the edges are wavy. At the top of the tallest three stems there are whitish-yellow smaller leaves wrapped around what sort of looks like a small cat-tail but it is yellow and nubby. Can you tell me the name and how to care for it. When I got it, it mostly stood straight up but it appears to be spreading out to the sides. Is it sick? I have only watered it once and the soil doesn't appear to be too dry yet. Thank you in advance. R. Williams Hamtramck, MI

Answer: I am guessing that this is a houseplant--and what I think you are describing is a spathiphyllum, sometimes called a peace lily. These plants need to be kept evenly moist, but not too wet. They thrive in indirect light--they can get some direct sunlightbut should not be left in the bright sun all day. In fact, one of their best features is that they don't require lots of sun, and so are common office plants. Spathiphyllum will wilt dramatically if allowed to dry out. They will collapse to the floor and look dead. If this, by any chance, happens to you, just water the plant well, and in a few hours it will pick up again. Perhaps the reason your plant is "spreading" out is because it is a little on the dry side and is starting to wilt. Or maybe it is simply adapting to your home environment after growing in a warm, humid greenhouse.

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