Peace lily, Spathiphyllum wallisii, is a popular, low maintenance house plant with glossy green leaves and white flowers, called spathes. Native to central America, it's used to a warm, humid environment and is perfect for growing in a bright bathroom. Peace lilies are easy to grow and relatively trouble-free.
The name 'peace lily' relates to its white flowers, which are thought to look like white flags (a symbol of peace). Peace lily isn't actually a lily but an arum, and is in the same family as Zantedeschia and Lords and ladies (Arum maculatum), as well as less obvious plants such as Swiss cheese plant (Monstera) and dumb cane (Dieffenbachia). Peace lilies are easy to grow and help to clean and purify the air.
Although the peace lily will grow in poor light, it flowers better in bright, indirect light and will struggle to produce blooms in deep shade. Peace lilies usually begin flowering in early spring, with each flower lasting up to four weeks. If your peace lily hasn't flowered, this may be because it hasn't reached maturity.
Tips for growing peace lily
- Grow peace lily in a bright spot out of direct sunlight.
- Water regularly, keeping the compost moist but not wet.
- In spring and summer, feed fortnightly with a liquid house plant food.
- Deadhead spent blooms and dust or wipe the leaves regularly to ensure they photosynthesise well. In dry rooms, you may need to mist around the leaves every so often to raise humidity.
- Bear in mind that, if ingested, peace lily leaves can cause swelling of the tongue or even vomiting.
Where to grow peace lily
Bright, indirect light is best for peace lilies, ideally sheltered from cold draughts, so choose a spot away from doors and fire places. Peace lilies are used to a tropical environment so a humid room, such as a bathroom or kitchen, is best.
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Easy to grow and very low maintenance, house plants are a great way to bring the outside in.
How to plant peace lily
Choose a pot no more than a third larger than the root ball. Fill the pot two-thirds with peat-free multi-purpose or house plant compost, and then plant your peace lily, filling around the rootball with more compost. Water well and allow to drain.
Caring for a peace lily
Water your peace lily regularly, ideally so the compost never completely dries out but is also not waterlogged. As a general rule, wait until the top few centimetres of compost have dried out before watering again. If you don't water them often enough you'll soon be able to tell – peace lilies wilt when dehydrated. Simply water again and keep up your watering regime.
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In spring and summer, feed your peace lily fortnightly with a liquid plant food, following the instructions on the back of the bottle.
Repot your peace lily into a slightly larger pot, with fresh compost, every few years. Peace lilies actually do well when their roots are a bit restricted, but recurrent wilting, despite regular watering, is a sign that the plant has outgrown its pot.
Growing peace lily: pests and problem-solving
- Small flies around the compost are likely fungus gnats. Fungus gnats thrive in moist compost, so try to water less frequently to break their lifecycle. You could also leave home-made traps in shallow dishes to lure and kill them – they're attracted to sweet-smelling squash, wine and beer. Alternatively, apply the organic pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis (BT), to the soil to kill the larvae
- Yellow peace lily leaves are natural, simply remove them to make room for fresh leaf growth. Overwatering may also lead to yellowing of the leaves, so let the soil dry out a bit and see if that makes any difference
- Brown edges on the leaves indicate that your your peace lily is getting too much direct sunlight. Simply move the plant out of direct sun to somewhere more shaded (ideally bright but away from direct sun)
Advice on buying peace lily
- Check the plant for signs of pests and disease before you buy
- If buying a peace lily from a garden centre or supermarket, avoid choosing one that's been sitting near the entrance, especially if buying in winter. Peace lilies suffer in draughty, cold conditions