Peace Lily - Knowledgebase Question

Evansville, IN
Avatar for endicotto
Question by endicotto
June 12, 2005
I have had a Peace Lily for about 1 1/2 years. In the last year though it is gotten much worse. Leaves die off. Ends and sides of leaves turn brown and eventually fall off. New leaves don't last very long either. Can you help?

Answer from NGA
June 12, 2005
There are several possible reasons for this. One is that the air is too dry and the plant is suffering in that low humidity. Grouping plants together and using a humidifier or a pebble tray with water in it to raise the immediate area humidity level can help. Winter heating and warm drafts are particularly drying. Overfertilizing can cause problems as well. Make sure you are not exceeding the label rates and decrease fertilizing in winter when plant growth naturally slows due to reduced light levels. Another common cause is build up of salts in the potting soil. To counter this, make sure you are not overfertilizing and periodically, leach the soil. This means watering the plant until water pours out the bottom holes, allow it to drain for a bit and then repeating. This flushes out any build up in the soil. Under watering can also cause extensive tip burn and foliage damage; this plant prefers an evenly moist soil but not a sopping wet one. Plants that are large in relation to their pot will need more water than newly potted plants. Keep in mind that overwatering can also cause problems such as root rot and this would also cause foliage problems. Do not allow water to accumulate in the saucer so the plant roots are sitting in saturated soil for a long period of time. Since it seems the problems have begun since the repotting, it is possible that the roots have not reached out into the new potting soil and as a result the plant is suffering from constricted roots, almost as though it had never been repotted. If you suspect this is the case, you could repot the plant, taking care to spread some of the roots in an outward direction. It is also important to try to use a potting soil that is similar in composition to the one originally used so that they hold water at approximately the same rate. This would help avoid over or underwatering problems due to incompatible soils. This plant can be divided as a means of propagating it and to rejuvenate an older, crowded plant. Generally the best time to do this would be in the spring. When repotting, it is fairly easy to see where the plant could be split apart be cutting straight down between stems or where there are natural divisions that can practically be pulled apart. Replant at the same depth as they grew originally. Finally, insect pests can also cause browning. Inspect both the growing tips and the undersides of the leaves and the stems for signs of insect activity. I hope this helps you troubleshoot.

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