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Andy's House Plant Rescue

What’s up with my peace lily?

Why this easy going Peace Lily needed re-potting

A popular houseplant, peace lilies are generally easy to grow, low-maintenance and can tolerate low-light conditions but if you suspect your peace lily isn’t thriving, you’ve come to the right place.
Andy's House Plant Rescue
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So, what’s up? Does it have droopy leaves? Brown leaves? Crusty or yellow leaves? Light, water, humidity and/or fertilizer could all be factors to a plant that is not growing well. Before we dive into plant diagnostics, keep in mind that there may not be anything wrong with your plant. Dying back leaves are a normal part of its life cycle. If most of the foliage looks healthy with only a few brown leaves, your plant is probably fine and you mustn’t worry!

My friend Andy’s peace lily, however, needed some help so he called me on FaceTime to get the down-low.

After talking through the history of the plant with Andy, I learned he performed a big ‘no-no.’ A couple of years ago, when he was repotting his plant…. he used garden soil from outside. Gasp. If you learn anything today, learn this: Don’t use outdoor garden soil from the garden beds for an indoor plant! This is vital. Taking soil from your outdoor garden runs many risks. It isn’t sterile and you can bring in a whole ecosystem that is necessary and wonderful for the outdoor plants but not so much for indoor houseplants.

My diagnosis: His plant needed to be repot with new, fresh  indoor potting soil.

Not being able to be hands-on myself with his plant, I broke down an action plan for him to execute on his own to get his plant to bounce back.

Step One: Grab Some Shears

First, trim off any heavily damaged leaves. With clean pruners or snips, follow the leaf you’d like to cut all the way to the base of the plant. Make a clean cut at the base of the soil. Then inspect the roots, by gently removing the plant from its container. White roots usually mean healthy roots so if your plant has a lot of brown or black roots, don’t be afraid to trim some of those off too.

Step Two: Clean the Container

After we discovered that Andy used outdoor soil in this container, he discarded that soil back outside and scrubbed the container clean with hot water and dish soap.

Step Three: Repot with New Potting Soil

In Andy’s circumstance, he didn’t repot into a new container, rather he added new soil into the same container that had been cleaned. After seeing how small the root ball was on his plant, he could have used a smaller container. Peace lilies actually like if their roots are a bit tight and bloom better with tight roots. Only repot if the plant is extremely root bound (or you used outdoor soil like Andy!)

Step Four: Water & Feed

After you’ve re-planted give the plant a thorough and deep watering in its new space. Then next time you water, use an all-purpose indoor plant fertilizer to give it a little boost.

Andy’s plant should thrive now after he did all of the above but I left him with some general peace lily facts to help educate him further:

Light: In their origin, they’re found on the ground in tropical forests and can tolerate part sun and some shade. Find a spot with bright, indirect light. An east facing window is a good option.

Humidity: They like some humidity (remember… tropical!), in the winter, don’t place them near a drafty window.

Water: Often droopy leaves indicate that they need a drink. These plants can be sensitive to chemicals in tap water. The best practice is to fill up a watering can and let it sit overnight, releasing some of those chemicals before watering.

Fertilizer: Peace lilies aren’t overly heavy feeders but they do enjoy some fertilizer from spring to fall (March to September) with sporadic feedings throughout the winter when they are dormant. Use an indoor all-purpose plant fertilizer and follow the directions on the packaging.

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