Ask a Question forum: Peace Lily dying/dead

Views: 663, Replies: 15 » Jump to the end
Northern Mississippi
Tom1973
Oct 10, 2017 7:14 AM CST
Hello all,

I have a peace lilly that is about 4 years and has been on a decline for the past 2 years. Ive tried many suggestions from local gardeners with no luck. Before I go into a long story about what ive tried I need to know if there is any hope for what i have left. I've attached an image of what once was a quite large peace lily. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thumb of 2017-10-10/Tom1973/20f1be

Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
Composter Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener
Image
tarev
Oct 10, 2017 9:25 AM CST
Hello Tom1973, feel the rhizome if it is still solid and no hollow/soft parts anywhere, it may still have a chance. But it will be really long haul and patience consuming.

For purposes of experimenting, you can still try if you want, put it in a smaller container but moist media, position in a warm area, shaded area indoors. Use containers with drain holes, and hope for the best.

I have nursed back my peace lily before which to all appearances was dead, but it came back, though I did not disturb it from its container. I just kept on keeping it moist, watching closely our temps. It was Fall season and temps still warm.

In the meantime, try to find a new Peace Lily, so if this last attempt fails, then you have another one going and let your previous growing experience be your learning curve. Don't feel sad, at times, just to let go and start anew.
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
Image
joannakat
Oct 10, 2017 9:41 AM CST
Tom, if you decide to give it a try, please update us. The rhizome looks to be viable so hopefully, it'll work for you. Peace lilies can be resilient.

Welcome, and good luck!
AKA Joey.
Northern Mississippi
Tom1973
Oct 10, 2017 10:44 AM CST
Thanks for the replies. I'm going to try my best to save it. The plant means a lot; it was given to me as a gift when my mother passed away about 4 years ago. In the past few years I've tried changing pots and replacing the soil. I've tried numerous types of fertilizers and root stimulators; none have worked. It stays in the house and I've tried moving to some sunlight and also almost no light and the results are still the same.

What type potting soil do any of you recommend? What about soaking it directly in a glass of water to possibly help it sprout?
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
Image
joannakat
Oct 10, 2017 11:25 AM CST
Tom, I don't know about potting soil because I always use regular garden soil mixed with a bit of compost or worm castings. BUT...

It's possible that you're doing too much. Others probably know more than I do about this plant, but I think that peace lilies are supposed to be among the easier plants to keep. There are more don'ts than do-s.

Don't overwater.
Don't let it dry out too much.
Don't let it sit in pooled water for too long.
Don't place it in sunlight (?)
Do place it in a nicely lit area.
Artificial light (full spectrum) is okay.
Don't freeze it.
Don't overfeed or over fertilize. A nicely diluted food once every two weeks is fine, but more will be a problem.
Water when leaves begin to bend (not lean) outward.
Rusty-looking leaf edges usually mean overfed or over fertilized.
Yellow and/or dropping leaves usually means it's not absorbing the water it needs (could be several reasons for this--doesn't necessarily mean that you're not watering it enough. If you let it dry out too much, the potting medium won't absorb or hold water. If the plant is too rootbound, it won't absorb enough water. If water is running down the sides of the inside of the pot, the roots won't get the water, etc.)
White, crusty or powdery stuff on the soil surface could mean a fungus or other infection that needs attention.

Hope this is helpful. Others probably have great tips too. Smiling
AKA Joey.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
Composter Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener
Image
tarev
Oct 10, 2017 3:03 PM CST
Just to add, no fertilizers for now, just let it thrive on its own if it can. Give it time. Warmth at root zone while kept moist but not soggy wet. Hope your plant will still try.
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
Image
joannakat
Oct 10, 2017 6:30 PM CST
tarev said:Just to add, no fertilizers for now, just let it thrive on its own if it can. Give it time. Warmth at root zone while kept moist but not soggy wet. Hope your plant will still try.


And tell it you love it. It really does help!
AKA Joey.
Northern Mississippi
Tom1973
Oct 25, 2017 1:54 PM CST
Just giving an update; things seem to be getting worse. Theres been no sign of regrowth. One thing I want to add though. I pulled out the rhizome just to check it and noticed very tiny insects in the soil. They seemed to be around the area of the rhizome. Could these be the culprit? They appear to be light green or white. Very small; smaller than a flea. You wouldn't even be able to see them if not for the dark soil as a background.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
Composter Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener
Image
tarev
Oct 25, 2017 2:55 PM CST
It is really hard when the soil itself is infested of an already troubled plant. I would suggest now, just start anew with a healthy plant, and charge it to experience. Sometimes there is only as much one can do to help the plant.
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
Image
joannakat
Oct 25, 2017 4:36 PM CST
Crying

Oh well, maybe you can buy a new one in tribute to the person who gave you the one that's not doing well.

It sounds like you have some sort of soil mite. They're good at breaking down organic matter. I imagine that your rhizome is organic matter, but I don't know if mites harm plants or not.
AKA Joey.
Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
Image
Turbosaurus
Oct 25, 2017 8:04 PM CST
I was going to say the same thing as Joannakat- sometimes we can kill them with kindness. Things like pulling out the rhizome to check it two weeks after you potted it was serendipitous b/c of mites- but not usually a good idea because as tiny new roots form they can't handle the stresses of any tensile force- and you will set the plant back to the start of recovery.

If you are determined to try and save this (I have plants from my grandma who passed away- so I know the feeling) I'm going to give you the advice I know works with similar rhizomatic aquatic plants. Peace lily is a bog plant, I have 3 that are about 8 years old, and I have 10 years of pretty advanced aquatic gardening so I'm not making this up out of whole cloth- but I can't tell you I've ever tried it. This is what I would do.. I would throw it out.. but if you really want to give it a go-

1) Pull the rhizome now, immediately- don't even read the rest of this post. Okay, your back? If you have soft mushy spots its probably history, but if you caught this in time and its still hard:

Toss that soil in the garbage now and take the bag outside, pot too unless its something pricey or also has sentimental value- in which case submerge it in a bleach bath (1:10 ratio) and leave it there- a day, two days until you get fresh potting soil, and hopefully a new pot.

Back to the rhizome- you're gonna have to clean this too. You can do a bleach dip half the concentration (1:20) for 3-5 minutes- or give it a H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) dip, dip it straight into 3% H2O2 out of the bottle (standard concentration you'll find at CVS or supermarket) for 30 seconds then rinse well- same with the bleach, rinse well. Until its not slippery any more. If there are places the mites ate at it, cut out anything mushy until you get to firm flesh. put it in a bright spot to dry on paper towels. Make sure there is no standing water around it and allow those soft spots to callous over, at least 4 days. It has to dry up a little bit to avoid rot when you replant it and the tuber is clearly dormant now, it won't hurt it. It's the plant version of a medically induced coma in the ICU

When you repot, the top of the rhizome should be just poking out of the soil- you can and should bury it deeper once you get a couple leaves- I know you are in Mississippi, but its fall. They like a lot of bright sunlight. Direct full day strong summer sun in mid august will burn them, but an indoor window sill would be ideal at this time of year. It needs that light. when it comes to watering the soil should feel just a little bit cool and flexible- NEVER wet or spongy- a healthy plant growing will tolerate that but we're in rescue mode now. If you pot in anything that's NOT fresh potting soil from a fresh sealed bag, you can bake it at 250 degrees for a couple hours to sterilize it.

That just triage... the problem is if it took you a couple years for this to deteriorate, there is something in your system or method that is seriously flawed, but reparable! You didn't kill it on the first day- but something about your methods made the plant struggle and slowly degrade.

So:
toss infested soil ASAP (and pot)
clean tuber, dry it off, then let it sit for a couple days
give it bright indoor light- brightest window in the brightest room you have.
Watch out for watering.. Most pots dry out becasue roots send water to leaf surfaces where it evaporates - you don't have any leaves- it will take a long time to get dry enough to need more water- maybe a month- it's not a cat, lol. Until the top of the soil is hard and crispy don't water it again, even then, poke your finger in and see what's going on an inch down.

so now that we've stabilized the patient,

You need to figure out why your care methods might have caused a decline- if the plant has been in decline for years- it won't go from decline to recovery unless whatever as causing the decline is also reversed.

It's a long term process. It won't take much labor, but it will take time and patience, you will have to be vigilant.


Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
Image
Turbosaurus
Oct 25, 2017 8:24 PM CST
Before you decide to try any of this- whoever gave you this plant DID NOT intend for you to suffer over it. It isn't uncommon for a plant to live its whole life in one season. That is their nature. The species has progressed for thousands of years, one plant dying, a new one taking their place, that is their purpose. A new peace lily is the way you can continue this gift's legacy.
Northern Mississippi
Tom1973
Oct 25, 2017 8:24 PM CST
Thank you for the great info. I'll give that a try. The problem started after I put the plant in a larger pot. It had outgrown the small plastic pot it came in from the florist. After I placed it in a new large pot with fresh potting soil the decline started. I don't know how long it takes these insects to destroy a plant but if it's long term I'm wondering if the "fresh" potting soil was contaminated.

Thank you again for taking the time for sharing the info.
Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
Image
Turbosaurus
Oct 25, 2017 8:45 PM CST
NP Tom. I know where you're heads at.

I don't think you had bugs for two years. The decline seems too gradual, the tuber in too good a shape. If it were bugs in the soil the tuber would go BEFORE the leaves.

When you change the size of your pot you change a lot of the environmental dynamics- it absorbs more water, stays wet longer. Plants take a while to adjust to new conditions of light humidity and heat, especially when they are rapid- like moving it around your house opposed to gradual seasonal changes in the natural environment.
Try to be patient, don't kill it with kindness. Often a less than ideal environment that is stable is preferable to the stress of rapid changes



Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
Image
sallyg
Oct 26, 2017 8:36 AM CST
Plenty of really good advice here already. All spot on, really, IMHO. Though, for someone just learning plant care, it may be difficult to put it all together in your head.
Another possible scenario when repotting is that the old rootball does not absorb water from the new soil. Seems to be watered but inside the old roots, it is dry.

I have cared for several 'petite' Spaths for years. Will has said these really hate root disturbance. When mine started suffering last spring at the office, not too long after a repot into a bigger pot, I brought it home for summer, did NOT change pot at all, watered more regularly, and let it recover in the shade. Similar to joannajat's story. Much happier plant now. They really do not recover quickly from being ripped apart like some other plants do.

I like to say, with nursery plants being cultivated thru tissue culture or cuttings, whatever,, they are all close cousins of each other anyway. Get a new peace lily, in your mother's honor, you can always have "a" peace lily at home in her honor, just maybe not the same exact one, and don't look back.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
Image
joannakat
Oct 26, 2017 8:58 AM CST
Another thing to take into consideration is that plants purchased from a florist can, depending on the florist, be bread for immediate beauty and not set up for longevity. They are often obtained from growers in "plugs" that are rootbound, and then stuffed into something that really looks beautiful at the time but will not last.

I purchase plants from my local florist but they also run the largest greenhouses in the area. Still, they often receive things that won't last. They allow me to come into the back area where they create things (I love that work area!) and I once watched them putting those plants into planters. I asked how long they felt they would live and they said that most will only last a year, but with really good care, could last as long as two. Some of those planters are peace lilies which are very popular.

If you decide to purchase a new plant, you might want to be sure to purchase it from a reputable grower. You can even ask them when they think it'll be necessary to transplant it. If it's within a few months, you can ask them to transplant it into a larger pot so that you won't have to over the coming year or two.

Hope you'll continue to update us--we're pulling for you!
AKA Joey.

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Ask a Question forum
Only the members of the Members group may reply to this thread.

Member Login:

Username:

Password:

[ Join now ]

Today's site banner is by plantmanager and is called "Blue My Mind"