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The peace lily, Spath or Spathiphyllum is quite well-known as an excellent plant to keep indoors. Hailing from both America and Asia, it usually grows in tropical areas, and its beauty is well-known, making it a great conversation piece. But what most plant keepers might not tell you is that the peace lily is notoriously challenging to take care of. It gives the orchid a run for its money.
If in trouble, your peace lily can change colors, droop, wither and die for no apparent reason. They are, to put it lightly, finicky. One problem which pops up more than any other is the sudden yellowing of leaves. This can happen over a long period or suddenly overnight. Even though you’re confident you haven’t changed a thing since last week, your peace lily will politely beg to differ – and then demand a change in its environment; thank you very much.
What might that problem be? Well, that’s for us to figure out – they’re not exactly going to tell you the problem. Thankfully some excellent gardeners have taken the time to understand the peace lily, so when your darling is turning yellow, here are a few sure-fire possibilities of figuring out what the problem might be.
6 Possible Reasons Why Your Peace Lily’s Leaves Are Turning Yellow
1. Aging of the leaves
The leaves of the peace lily, like all plants, will eventually grow old and die. If the leaves turn yellow, especially on the bottom row, it is most likely just old leaves getting ready to fall off. You can help your peace lily by simply trimming the older leaves. By pruning your peace lily from time to time, you can keep it healthy and happy, as it won’t be expending extra resourcing on dying stalks – and you’ll avoid the possibility of pests – but don’t overdo it! Just prune it when you spot the yellowing leaves, and your plant will be happy.
2. Bad water
Most tap water has chlorine, and Peace lilies are notoriously sensitive to that chemical. If you suspect your water is filled with chlorine, let the water stand overnight to let the chlorine dissolve into gas – it’s a bit of effort, but you’ll have a happy peace lily as a result. Another option, and a far better one, is to use rainwater, the best water you can give any plant.
Bad water is often the number one cause for a peace lily turning yellow, so before checking anything else, make sure the water is good for the plant.
3. Watering problems
Watering a peace lily is one of the most significant challenges you’ll face. Too much water and it will drown, too little water and it will die of dehydration. And they are, on top of all of that, quick picky about the type of water they would like. Talk about your divas.
- Overwatering or poor drainage will cause the infamous root rot to take hold of the roots. Roots that are submerged in water for too long will struggle to get oxygen, and as a result, the leaves will begin to turn yellow. If the leaves turn yellow, drooping, and the soil is quite moist, it might be root rot. The best way to be sure is to check the roots, so take the plant out of the pot and
make sure the roots are pale and springy. If brown and mushy, you’ve got root rot.
- Underwatering is another hazard. The best reason to keep a peace lily in it’s not shy in telling you exactly when it needs water; it will wilt. When you see the lily fading, pour some water over it (but check the soil first to make sure it’s not wet already), and it will quickly spring back to life. But don’t let your plant dry out often. Instead, keep a strict water schedule, make sure your peace lily isn’t drowning, and try to give it water before it needs it. If you constantly let your peace lily run dry, it can quickly turn yellow as well – and it will be there to stay!
4. Too much or too little light
Light is probably the most crucial part in keeping a plant healthy next to water – and one often overlooked. The peace lily, in particular, likes indirect or softer light. We often put our plants on the windowsill to ensure they get good maximum light, but unfortunately, this has the terrible side-effect of leaf burning. Instead, move your peace lily into a shady place in the living room, where light still spills in but can’t burn it.
Also, be sure to keep them indoors, particularly in colder areas. Although tough against the weather, the peace lily doesn’t like the cold much; being from a tropical forested area needs to be kept warm. So, the windowsill might give your peace lily a good view, but not necessarily a good time.
5. Poor soil
If your water and lightning aren’t the problems, then try checking the soil. We often overlook ground when we buy our plants, grabbing any old thing to shove into the pot, but the earth is where our plants get all of their nutrients; if they can’t gather its nutrients, they will become ill.
It doesn’t need many nutrients, but it will require a soil type with good draining properties. A mix of peat moss, perlite, and texture material will give the soil the perfect balance of nutrients and drainage. One key point to keep in mind is the soil needs to be moist. They don’t like their feet to be wet, but they want to be coated in moisture. So be sure to check the soil every couple of days to make sure it’s still that perfect wetness that your peace lily will adore.
6. Pests and diseases
If the problem is persisting, you may have something a bit more severe on your hands. Pests have a nasty way of sneaking into your home and wreaking havoc on your plants. Keep an eye out for white spots on the stems (mealybugs), sticky honeydew on the leaves (aphids), or white webbing on the leaves (spider mites). All of these critters can cause some severe damage to your plants. If you spot them, you’ll have to treat your plant with insecticide soap to wash them off. Be sure to isolate and quarantine your infected plant; some of these critters can quickly spread to nearby houseplants.
Once you’ve sterilized the plant, it’s only a matter of observation and making sure that you got all of them. Sometimes eggs can still hatch that you might have missed, so keep up the treatment until your peace lily is clean from pests.
The last thing you want is for your plant to get sick with any disease. Peace-lily-specific diseases are often fatal, and there is very little you can do when it starts showing symptoms. There are four common peace lily diseases, three of which turn the leaves yellow.
Cylindrocladium Root Rot: This is a fungus that grows on the roots in overly wet and hot conditions. The high humidity breeds the fungus, which in turn rots the roots. Signs are leaf wilting and yellowing leaves. Once these symptoms show, it’s usually too late to save the plant. Check the roots, but if more than 30 percent is damaged, you’ll have to chuck the plant. If not, then scrub the plant and dry on a paper towel in the indirect sun in a dark place (like the basement). Scrub the pot clean, replant and make sure it doesn’t go into shock.
This is the reason why it’s so important to make sure your plant has proper drainage. If it doesn’t, your plant is vulnerable to this disease.
Dasheen Mosaic Virus: If you see yellow mosaic discoloration on your plant, it has picked up this virus. Although there is no cure for this disease, it is not deadly, and your plant can survive without intervention – your plant will have discoloration for the rest of its life. The virus is very contagious, so if you have any other houseplants, it is best to keep them away from them. Also, be sure to check for any pests; they can quickly spread the virus to other plants in the house.
Pythium Root Rot: Another deadly and often fatal disease, Pythium root rot, is caused by a type of water mold. The peace lily’s leaves will turn yellowish and will slowly begin to wilt. By the time these symptoms start showing, the tragedy is the root system is probably already too far gone to be saved.
Once again, make sure your peace lily is healthy and happy by giving it soil that drains and retains moisture. Once you’ve found that balance, your peace lily will be at peace.
TIP: Most of the peace lily diseases find their roots in poor soil. Repotting your peace lily from time to time is a sure-fire way to spot problems before they can get out of hand. And be sure to use ceramic pots; plastic pots are notorious for breeding fungus and don’t give the roots a place to breathe.
Although many tout the peace lily as the perfect starter plant, it’s not without its demands and drawbacks. It can be pretty demanding and picky in its care, and you’ll have to keep an eye on it, at least at the start, to make sure it’s doing okay. Thankfully, the peace lily communicates its problems quite effectively and is not shy to let you know when something is amiss.
If you check in from time to time, you should be able to stop a problem from growing before it has a chance of ever taking root.