Ask a Question forum: Spathiphyllum

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Hanover, NH
Dec 13, 2016 12:07 PM CST
I do not know anything about plants but a former employee in my office left plants here when she left three or four years ago, and I want to take care of them. No one else is going to take care of them, and I want to help them. First question is, I've been watering them weekly with Schultz 10-15-10 Plant Food Plus. Is that appropriate?

One plant is a spathiphyllum (peace lily). It is large. Some of its leaves have turned brown at the tips and edges. The pot is crowded. Some of the stems had dried out. I trimmed the brittle stems and when I got near the dirt I saw what looks like one of three roots or ?rhizomes?, this one mostly on top of the dirt. There were brown and dry stems on it, that had been cut in the past. I didn't see any green shoots coming from it. The root/rhizome itself was mostly brown with maybe a small white or light greenish area. I removed that root/rhizome along with the unhealthy stems on the plant and threw them away and plan to put the plant in a bigger pot. My questions are two: (1) Was it wrong to throw that root/rhizome away? Should I have saved it and tried to plant it to see if it would grow? Did it hurt the plant to do that? (2) There are some leaves that have brown tips and edges. Is it okay to trim off the brown part? Does that hurt the plant? Should I wait for the entire leaf and stem to turn brown and brittle before trimming it off? I want to give proper care to the plant and don't understand what the proper care is. I don't want to hurt anything. I am confused by what I found in a google search as there are some creepy people posting things.

(The following is written a few days after the above.)
Yesterday I moved the plant into a bigger pot and unexpectedly the stems flopped down. A co-worker said I needed string and stakes to give it support. I didn't see anything about strings and stakes online despite doing a decent search on repotting. My colleagues thought the plant was deep enough in the larger pot and shouldn't go deeper, but said that previously the plant had been in a pot inside the larger pot where it is now, so they said it had probably been getting support from the outer pot that it doesn't have now. We put a ruler in the pot and string around the stems and it seems to be okay.

Another questions is, there is a lot of dirt on the carpet and our office party is tomorrow so I have to vacuum in there, and to vacuum I will have to move the plant a couple of times. Is that going to bother the plant, given its recent repotting?
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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Dec 13, 2016 12:42 PM CST
Hello Plantguardian, at times it is the timing when you do the repot that is important to consider. Ideally, for Spathiphyllum I will do the repot if needed in Spring, not as it heads into winter. I do not know where your location, so I am talking about this in my current perspective here. I trim off dead leaves, and if some tips are starting to brown, I just wait till it is done. At times it is natural leaf dying stage. But it could also be indication if you are watering too much the plant, or roots are too overcrowded.

I would not have removed the rhizome yet, but since you have done it already, just try to keep the rest of the plant warm, and moist, not soaking wet. So far I find this plant happier when just a bit crowded, but depending if the roots are already showing above, then it is time to move to slightly bigger container.

As to your question if it will harm the plant to move the container for your Christmas party, should be okay, just return it to its old spot after your party is done. When repot has been done, it is often normal for the plant to sulk a bit, as it tries to adjust and acclimate again in its new set-up, especially if there was major root disturbance at soil level.

It is one resilient plant for sure, I have almost killed mine twice already, but it came back nicely.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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Dec 14, 2016 9:05 AM CST
Well done for trying to keep these plants going. I agree with Tarev about waiting until spring to re-pot.

May I suggest that in winter you should not water with fertilizer every week, but maybe back off to once a month on the fertilizer, and just give the plant plain water in between? I stick a little sticky note on the pot to remind myself when I last fertilized "Fert. Dec 1st" for example.

Too much fertilizer when the plant is slowing down growing in winter can cause the tips of the leaves to burn. Even though the indoor temperatures are pretty consistent, the lower light from the windows will cause the plant to slow down a bit.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Sally
central Maryland
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Dec 14, 2016 3:59 PM CST
The leaves will support themselves if they are happy.
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Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
Dec 14, 2016 7:35 PM CST
The tight pot and rootball were helping to support the leaf stems. It is quite common for a Peace Lily in a large pot to have stems that lean over. In addition, if repotting is not done correctly, root hairs may be damaged in the process and that may cause wilting. Finally, moving a plant to a larger pot increases the possibility of root rot because the added soil retains water for longer than it did before.

Fertilize no more than once per month with fertilizer diluted to half the recommended label rate.

Trimming brown edges and removing mostly discolored leaves is a matter of aesthetics and does not affect the health of the plant. If trimming makes the plant look better, then do it without hesitation.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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