Ask a Question forum: I have a sick Peace Lily!

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Name: Jacquie (JB) Berger
Wrightstown, New Jersey (Zone 6b)

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JB
Mar 18, 2018 12:59 PM CST
I have two big peace lilies and they both are in the same window and get the same light and amount of water. The one is thriving and the other is slowly section by section, dying. This is the sick one, I just cut off 6 brown leaves. When they need water they droop and I give them a drink. Otherwise they are no problem but to keep them watered is a challenge because if you give them too much water you can get brown leaves also. I am wondering if that is what I did wrong. Maybe it was not as dry as I thought. I felt 2 inches into the soil with my finger and it was dry.

Thumb of 2018-03-18/JB/92cbbd
This is the healthy one.

Thumb of 2018-03-18/JB/c29ec4

I am at a loss to know what, all of a sudden has caused this to happen. They are very big plants and I do not know how old they are.

I am beginning to wonder if Peace Lilies have a life span of maybe 4 years or less. I have five. One in the greenhouse cut back because it began to die and I wanted to save it. It is still alive but needs time to recover. That is a totally different species than these big ones. But after about 4 years it began to look crappy.

My question is, does anyone else have any of these giant plants and if so, how do you keep them alive? They take more attention than the small variety.





Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 18, 2018 2:02 PM CST
Pece Lilies grow faster and do have shorter life spans than do some other indoor plants. In addition, the variegated hybrids that you have are not as hardy as the all green non-hybrids. That said, yours still have plenty of life left in them.

Unless that is a south-facing window, the plants would benefit from your opening up the sheers during the day.

I think the problem is that your watering is a bit off. It is best to water a Peace Lily just as or before it starts to wilt. When you do water, add enough so that a small amount trickles through the drain holes. I suggest that you water your plant thoroughly and then see how many days it takes for it to start to wilt. Then, you will know how often to water.

If the leaves wilt, they do come back after watering, but it sometimes results in leaf yellowing and brown tips and edges. so it is best to avoid significant wilting.

Leave the soil alone and don't attempt to repot your Peace Lilies as that will shorten their lifespan.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Jacquie (JB) Berger
Wrightstown, New Jersey (Zone 6b)

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Region: New Jersey Houseplants Container Gardener
Farmer Keeps Horses Dog Lover Birds The WITWIT Badge Plays in the sandbox
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JB
Mar 18, 2018 2:28 PM CST
It is a South window exposure.

I appreciate your suggestions. It seems depending on the house humidity, which is difficult to keep to higher levels just now with the changes in the weather we have been having. Even the greenhouse plants are having to be watered more often. These two big ones usually take about 16 ounces every three or four days. That is before they begin to show wilt. But, depending on the South exposure changes due to the weather there are some times when they begin to droop before their normal watering time. The house temp is usually 72 deg. If the weather is sunny they drink more due to the sun at the window. It is very difficult to know what to do at times. I am 89 and have been doing this a long time, but this has me really concerned because I have tried everything I know. Thank you again. I will review and record my watering again beginning today since they got watered and get a better idea what I could be doing wrong.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 18, 2018 4:19 PM CST
Okay, then keep the sheers closed. Peace Lilies do not require high humidity. However, the dry air may cause the soil to dry out sooner.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
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sallyg
Mar 18, 2018 5:59 PM CST
JB, if it's any consolation, I can hardly keep a Spider plant happy- so many die on me. Isn't it strange how one can be very experienced and skilled with many plants, and still, some individuals or kinds just baffle us?
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Jacquie (JB) Berger
Wrightstown, New Jersey (Zone 6b)

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Region: New Jersey Houseplants Container Gardener
Farmer Keeps Horses Dog Lover Birds The WITWIT Badge Plays in the sandbox
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JB
Mar 19, 2018 12:10 PM CST
Thank you again WillC for your time and comments. I do appreciate your input. JB
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 19, 2018 3:37 PM CST
Welcome!
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Jacquie (JB) Berger
Wrightstown, New Jersey (Zone 6b)

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Region: New Jersey Houseplants Container Gardener
Farmer Keeps Horses Dog Lover Birds The WITWIT Badge Plays in the sandbox
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JB
Mar 24, 2018 10:12 AM CST
@WillC just had to share this with you. My Peace Lilies are Spathiphyllum Peace Lily Domino. I purchased them from Delray Plants, Venue, FLA in June of 2017. These are the ones I am speaking about in the above posts.
After weeks of watching, caring and praying, the very sick plant suddenly got worse.
This was it yesterday.
Thumb of 2018-03-24/JB/873786

I know it was not my watering since I have, since our last conversation, watched it and recorded it daily. I decided to just remove the section of the sick plant and do a complete examination of the roots and bottom of the plant. This is what I found.


Thumb of 2018-03-24/JB/dafc68


Thumb of 2018-03-24/JB/900d68

They reminded me of the little inch worms we played with as kids, but these are an ugly color and smaller but chunkier. I have never seen any like this in any of my plants before. We removed both plants and took them out of the containers, washed the roots with neems and soap solution, put them in new pots with all new soil and watered them with hydrogen peroxide water,

They were shocked big time since this is their full blooming season and I know I took a chance in loosing them but I also found a dead worm in the saucer of the other plant. I just can not have these things invade my plants.
I came to the conclusion that whatever they are, they had to be in the original soil as eggs and hatched a few months ago and just kept eating at the plant. I found hundreds of them in the saucer dead when we removed the plants. I should have found them sooner, but my vision and my vertigo has taken a toll on my plant activities. My caregiver is also a plant person and she did a great job keeping the bad soil separated from everything else and bagging it and throwing it in the garbage rather than out in our garden. If they were not in the original soil, they had to be in a new bag of Miracle Grow Potting Soil and when we transplanted them the first time, that is what we used. The mystery of what caused the plant to be sick has been solved. Now my only question is, WHAT ARE THEY AND WHERE DID THEY ORIGINATE FROM? Any thoughts?

Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 25, 2018 10:06 AM CST
Thanks for the follow-up, Jacqui, but I disagree with your conclusion that the critters have caused the decline of your plant. The presence of the critters does indicate the quality of the soil used (probably the Miracle-Gro) was poor, but that in and of itself did not cause the plant to decline. Clearly, the roots have diminished severely and that was due to the lack of oxygen that the roots need to survive. Poor quality potting soil is often lacking in porosity and that means the roots are more prone to suffocation.

I understand your desire to get the critters out of your home, but removing all of the soil will usually kill the plant as well as the critters.

Peace Lilies are easy to inadvertently overwater because we hate to see them wilt when they get too dry. The tendency is to overcompensate. But the repotting that you did also contributed to the problem. Nearly all plants do best in the soil and pots they were grown in because the nurseries know what they are doing and how plants grow best.

For the future, I think you will be better off leaving your plants in their nursery pots and setting those inside a planter that is more attractive. Repotting is much riskier than most folks realize. A lot can go wrong when it is done unnecessarily and/or incorrectly.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Jacquie (JB) Berger
Wrightstown, New Jersey (Zone 6b)

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Region: New Jersey Houseplants Container Gardener
Farmer Keeps Horses Dog Lover Birds The WITWIT Badge Plays in the sandbox
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JB
Mar 25, 2018 12:00 PM CST
Wow, you sure gave me something to think about. Thanks for your advice.

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