Peace lilies, with the botanical name Spathiphyllum, are popular indoor plants. They are easy to care for and a favorite choice for both homes and offices. Their arresting white blooms are actually leaf bracts, which grow hooded over the real, smaller flowers. Despite being relatively hardy, peace lilies do still require a certain level of care, and underwatering them could compromise their health and their growth.
Underwatered peace lily: Signs and how to revive
Signs of an underwatered peace lily
1. Drooping leaves and stems
One sign of an underwatered peace lily is drooping leaves and stems. These plants are known to droop when dehydrated, and perk up again quickly as soon as they are watered. Nevertheless, it is important to let the soil dry out before watering your peace lily, as overwatering can harm your plant even more than underwatering.
2. Leaves turning brown or yellow and becoming dry
Underwatered peace lily leaves may turn brown or yellow from lack of moisture. If you leave your plants unwatered for too long, the leaves may also dry out. Brown spots or streaks on your plants’ leaves could also indicate sunburn.
How to revive underwatered peace lily plants
To revive drooping peace lilies, recreate the moisture conditions of their native habitat. If the soil is dry, place the plants in a basin of water for at least 10 minutes. If the soil has been dry for a long time, it could actually repel water off its surface, meaning that moisture will not be able to reach the roots. Soaking the pot in a basin will allow the water to seep through the soil and the roots will be able to draw up all the moisture they need.
After this initial soak, increase your watering frequency and observe the plants for about a week. Watering once a week is acceptable, but be sure to adjust this if the climate is particularly hot or dry.
The plants should be given a proper soak every time you water them. Watering in small amounts will only moisten the surface of the soil and the water will not seep into the roots. Use enough water that the excess trickles out of the drainage holes of the pots. Mist the leaves with a spray bottle and keep the plants away from heat sources. After about two or three cycles of watering and regular misting, the plants should hopefully be revived and look much better.
Peace lily plant care
Peace lily plants are more tolerant of underwatering than overwatering. Do not water the plants on a schedule; rather check on them once a week to see whether the top of the soil is dry. If it is, you may water the plants, but avoid watering the soil if it is still damp.
These plants do not require frequent fertilizing; do this once or twice a year at most. When the plants have outgrown their containers, you can repot and divide them. You will know they have outgrown their pots when they start to droop less than a week after being watered. You might also notice crowded and deformed leaf growth.
If repotting your plants, move them into pots that are two inches larger than the current ones. Use a sharp knife to divide the root ball and replant each division in a new container.
Wash or wipe the leaves at least once a year so they can process sunlight adequately. You could also place the plants in a sink and allow the tap to run over the leaves. Do not use commercial leaf shine products, as these can do more harm than good.
Peace lilies are popular indoor plants because of their arresting white flowers, which are actually specialized leaf bracts growing hooded over the real flowers. These so-called closet plants are also prone to underwatering, and the signs of this include drooping leaves that are turning yellow or brown. To revive underwatered peace lilies, give them a good soak in a basin of water for at least 10 minutes. Water them thoroughly at least once a week thereafter, and also spray the leaves with a mister.
Image: istockphoto.com / Ian Dyball