The most common reasons for a peace lily dying are underwatering, overwatering, too much sun, low humidity, and poor drainage.
Solving the problem effectively starts with correctly identifying the cause of the plant’s declining health.
In this article, we will discuss the possible reasons your peace lily is dying, and how to save it.
Why is my peace lily dying?
Underwatering and low humidity
The most common reason for a peace lily to die is that it is not getting the amount of water it needs.
You can tell that your peace lily is suffering from drought stress if it is drooping and its leaves are curled up. The leaves will also turn yellow or brown.
Drought stress is caused by underwatering or low humidity. Peace lilies are tropical plants and are used to regular rainfall and environments with high humidity. When growing a peace lily in your home, you need to keep its soil consistently moist; it should never dry out for extended periods of time. The interiors of homes have much lower humidity than the plant’s natural habitat, and warm or cold air from vents around the house can also cause it to lose moisture, resulting in the plant drying out and wilting.
You can check whether drought stress is causing the drooping by pushing your finger an inch or two into the soil. If the soil feels dry, then drought stress is the cause.
Revive a drooping peace lily by simulating the moisture it gets in the wild as best as you can.
If the soil feels dry to the touch, place the plant in a basin of water for ten minutes. Sometimes just soaking the soil from the top might not be enough, especially if the soil is so dry that it repels water. When you put it in a basin of water, the roots can draw up water directly from the bottom.
You also need to water your peace lily more often than usual, although after soaking it in the basin you will not need to water it for a week. Check the soil every day to see how quickly it dries out. The ideal is when the surface is dry to the touch but the soil underneath is still moist.
Watering once a week with a generous soak is better for the plant than watering it with a little water every day. Giving it just a little water will not penetrate the soil enough to reach the roots at the bottom of the pot.
You can increase the humidity around the plant by misting the leaves with a spray bottle. Do this once a week in the spring and summer, but you may need to do it more often during dry winters.
Too much sun
When your peace lily is getting too much sunlight, it can get brown streaks on its leaves and the leaves may curl. The brown streaks are a result of sunburn, which happens more often to plants that have grown accustomed to being in the shade and are then moved to an area with a lot of sun.
In their natural habitat peace lilies grow in the rainforest, protected from the sun by the canopy, which means they do not get very much direct sunlight.
You can tell that the brown streaks are caused by sun damage if the streaks appear on the side of the plant that gets the most sun, while the other side that gets shade remains green.
Revive your sunburnt plant by first moving it to a shady area where it will only get indirect light. Do not remove the brown leaves just yet; first allow the plant to recover before removing the leaves, because this also causes the plant stress. It is best to wait for new foliage to grow before trimming off the sun-damaged leaves.
If the leaves of the peace lily are curled, water it once a week to keep the soil moist and spray with a mister to create a humid environment for the plant.
These plants are slow growers and may take some time to show that they have recovered, so you will have to be patient.
Another reason your peace lily could be dying is overwatering. You can tell the plant is overwatered if the leaves are turning yellow and drooping.
Even though peace lilies are tropical plants that grow in places with generous rainfall, they still cannot tolerate waterlogged soil. They only want their soil to be moist, rather than soggy. Too much water in the soil keeps oxygen away from the roots and eventually kills them. The dead roots will rot and become susceptible to attack by opportunistic pathogens such as fungi and bacteria.
Overwatering happens for several reasons: if you give the plant more water than it needs, if you water it more often than it needs, if you use poorly-draining soil, if you use a pot that has no drainage holes at the bottom, or if you use saucers or trays under the pot that prevent excess water from escaping.
You can check if the soil is waterlogged by pressing down on the top of the soil or through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. If the soil feels boggy and not just moist, then there is definitely excess water in the plant’s soil.
You can revive your overwatered peace lily by increasing the number of days between watering. Only water the plant when the soil is dry to the touch, to help reduce the chance of root rot.
Plant the peace lily in a pot that has sufficient drainage holes at the bottom, to ensure that any excess water can escape. If you think the water is draining too slowly, check whether the drainage holes are blocked by compacted soil or roots.
If you keep the plant indoors and place the pot on top of a tray or a saucer, make sure you empty it after the excess water has had time to drip out of the drainage holes.
Once you have reduced your watering and made sure there is proper drainage, the plant should be able to recover fully, but be prepared for the possibility that it might not make it, especially if there has been significant damage to the roots.
Your peace lily could be dying from underwatering, overwatering, low humidity, or too much sun. Being able to correctly diagnose the cause of your plant’s declining health is the first step in effective treatment.
Keep the plant’s soil moist but not soggy, keep it in the shade rather than under full sun, and do not overwater or underwater the plant. Make sure you use well-draining soil and a pot that has drainage holes at the bottom.
As long as you take diligent care of your peace lily, you should have a decent chance of reviving it.
Image: istockphoto.com / cadifor