For people who want to know more about the Peace Lily, Spathiphyllum wallisii

Peace Lilies, Spathiphyllum wallisii, are iconic houseplants due to their beauty and tolerance of a wide range of care.

They are often suggested as a great option for first-time plant parents and are very affordable for the most part.

Today we will take a closer look at the Peace Lily, including:

  • Where it grows naturally
  • It’s history as a houseplant
  • What varieties are available
  • How you care for a Peace Lily successfully
  • How to get it to bloom again
  • And more!

Table of Contents

Where does the Peace Lily grow natively?

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Peace Lily in Colombia, Photo by: Jonathan Newman, iNaturalist, Source

Peace lilies are native to Colombia and Venezuela, living in the rainforests sometimes receiving only dappled light and sometimes receiving a good deal more.

They are used to hot, humid conditions where rain is plentiful.

These plants are known for their large leaves, upright growth habit, and white inflorescences/flowers.

As part of the Aroid family, their flowers are composed of two main parts: the spathe and the spadix.

The spadix is the rod-like growth in the center where lots of tiny, true flowers emerge. The spathe is the leaf-like structure surrounding the spadix.

It is the presence of the spathe that gives Peace Lilies their genus name, Spathiphyllum.

While these plants can grow up to 6 feet or more in nature, the varieties and cultivars kept as houseplants stay much smaller – in part due to selective breeding and in part due to the less-than-ideal home environment.

In the home, Peace Lilies typically range from 12 to 36 inches tall, depending on the variety.

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Peace Lily in Colombia, Photo by: swinton, iNaturalist, Source

What is the Peace Lily’s history as a houseplant?

Normally I can find reputable information sources to confirm the history of a plant, but I haven’t found one for Spathiphyllum wallisii/the Peace Lily.

Because of that, I will share the common story that is being told about this plant’s introduction into the world of houseplants, but I have to say that I can’t be certain it’s factual. If I am able to find a primary source for information (or if someone points me in the direction of one), I will update it here!

The Peace Lily is said to be discovered in the early 1800’s by a German plant collector Gustav Wallis, whose name inspired the species, ‘wallisii.’ Wallis introduced it to Europe and the plant has been in cultivation since.

It is still a popular and inexpensive houseplant due to its forgiving nature and tolerance for low light conditions in homes.

The Peace Lily earned its name because of its characteristic white blooms. People say the white spathe or leaf-like structure surrounding the flowers looks like a peace flag.

It is not a lily, however, despite its common name. It is actually related to Monstera, Philodendron, Anthurium, and other aroids.

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Peace Lilies can grow in water alone successfully

If you do a quick google search on Peace Lilies growing in water, you will find out that Peace Lilies can grow successfully in water vessels, freshwater fish tanks, and hydroponics setups.

As a kid, I was enamored with everything nature and fish (not much has changed several decades later) and one of the longest setups in my childhood bedroom was a glass vase filled with water where a Peace Lily was suspended on top (roots growing into the water) and a betta fish was living in the bottom.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this setup now since I don’t believe it is the kindest conditions (both space, health, and aeration-wise) for the fish, but I loved it and both the plant and fish lived on for quite some time. I think it’s fair to say that the Peace Lily was my first personal houseplant followed by a Venus flytrap.

I’ll insert an example from Pinterest of the setup I had. Again, I wouldn’t recommend doing this to your fish now.

What varieties of Peace Lily are there?

This list probably isn’t all-inclusive because there are so many cultivars and varieties of plants still popping up or that I’m just not aware of yet. However, I’ll include everything I am aware of below!

Green Peace Lilies ranging from tiny to huge

There are a ton of cultivars that feature dark, rich green leaves and the characteristic white flowers.

They range wildly in size from 12 inches or less tall to average adult human height.

I won’t even attempt to list them all because there truly are so many, but suffice it to say that if you are looking for a particular plant size to fill a space in your home, the Peace Lily has a huge range to offer.

Gold Peace Lily

Gold Peace Lily has a similar leaf coloration to Neon Pothos or Lemon Lime Philodendrons, It is a gorgeous, vibrant yellow-green that really pops among darker green plants.

This is another plant that I would totally grow at some point in the future… when I don’t have every nook and cranny already filled with plants. 🙂

Domino Peace Lily

Domino Peace Lily has flecks of white or cream variegation splashed across its leaves in a beautiful, constellation-type way. It truly does remind me a little of the type of variegation that Monstera Thai Constellation displays.

I also love that this plant is not hard to find and is inexpensive. This is definitely my favorite cultivar and the one that I make a point to keep and maintain.

Platinum Mist Peace Lily

Platinum Mist Peace Lily has almost a pinstriped type look of varying lighter green tones that get a bit darker closer to the leaf edges. This one is probably my second favorite cultivar after Domino. I don’t own it currently, but would love to try it one day.

Peace Lily White Stripe

Peace Lily White Stripe has a characteristic white stripe that divides the leaf in half lengthwise with dark, lush green on either side.

Picasso Peace Lily

As far as I know, this is the least common and most expensive peace lily currently. It is a slower grower because of its larger patches of variegation which also make it incredibly striking.

How do you care for a Peace Lily?

Peace Lily Care Summary

In-depth care is below this chart

Humidity:Okay in normal household humidity, prefers high humidity
Light:Bright indirect light
Pot:Any pot with a drainage hole
Potting Mix:A well-draining, airy mix
Water:Water when nearly dry
Fertilizer:Lightly fertilize during active growth
Temperature:Normal household temps are fine (65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit ideally)

What kind of light does a Peace Lily prefer?

Peace Lilies want lots of bright, indirect light. They can happily take a few hours of direct sunlight (like that in an East or West facing window).

This plant is notoriously labelled as low light preferred, but the truth is that they prefer more light than that. They can just tolerate low light for some time before collapsing.

What kind of potting mix does a Peace Lily prefer?

Peace Lilies like fluffy, airy mixes.

This means soil mixes with adequate amounts of perlite, orchid bark, horticultural charcoal, etcetera. I recommend having a third of your mix be these airy materials.

Creating an airy mix will ensure your plant’s roots stay healthy which will set the plant up for much more success!

What kind of pot/planter does a Peace Lily prefer?

Peace Lilies can happily live in any pot/planter that has a drainage hole. Pots made of porous material (like unglazed clay or cement) will help to further wick excess water out of the potting mix.

This means the plant will dry a bit faster and need to be watered more frequently, which is completely fine but something to know when choosing a pot.

How do you know when a Peace Lily needs to be watered?

Peace Lilies do not like to dry out! As soon as the top third to half of the pot feels dry or registers dry on a moisture meter, your plant is ready for a good soak.

These plants will dramatically wilt when allowed to become too dry. Consistently allowing a plant to wilt before watering will stress the plant and make it harder for the plant to recover each time. Occasional wilting is forgivable, however.

Here’s a time-lapse of a Peace Lily recovering from wilt after a good drink. It is pretty amazing how well some plants, like this one, bounce back:

How often does a Peace Lily need to be fertilized?

Peace Lilies like to be fertilized regularly throughout the growing season with a well-balanced fertilizer. I personally use organic fertilizers, like Espoma Indoor Plant Food, at a diluted strength and apply it once every couple weeks during the plant’s growing season.

How do you get a Peace Lily to bloom again?

Short answer: The best way to get a Peace Lily to bloom again is to care for it consistently and give it the best conditions you can (as detailed above).

Peace Lilies only bloom about once a year, which means that your plant isn’t likely to bloom again anytime soon if you purchased it in bloom. They may also not bloom as prolifically as the first time.

Growers force Peace Lilies to bloom by applying a special hormone, which we home growers don’t have access to (as far as I know).

I’m not sure it would be healthy for the plant to be forced to bloom over and over again anyway, but regardless, that is why Peace Lilies are often in bloom when new in stores.

My advice would be to not buy a Peace Lily if you only enjoy the plant when it is blooming since it won’t be in bloom very often. If you enjoy how the plant looks with and without blooms, however, then you and your plant will do just fine!

Is the Peace Lily toxic?

Yes, Peace Lilies are toxic to pets and humans. Make sure to keep this one out of reach from anyone who might want to take a bite!

What are some common issues when growing a Peace Lily?

Flowers turning green

The flowers naturally turn green as they age. They are also more likely to emerge green when light levels are diminishing, like it winter or when moved to a dim spot, for example.

Plant isn’t flowering anymore

Peace Lilies are not frequent bloomers, so if your plant has bloomed anytime within the last year, it might just need more time to bloom again.

If it has been over a year since blooming, the peace lily may need different conditions (more light, more consistent watering, etcetera). Review Peace Lily care guides to determine if there is one or more areas that you could change to improve your plant’s health.

Consistent care and good conditions are what the plant needs to flower.

Leaves turning yellow

As for all plants, leaf yellowing can be a product of a bunch of different issues. If it is just a single lower leaf turning yellow, it is probably just a natural die-off.

If several lower leaves are turning yellow, it could be underwatering, overwatering, or pest/disease. The easiest way to start to discern which it is is to investigate:

  • the potting mix (does it feel very wet or very dry, which might indicate over or underwatering)
  • take a look at the roots – are they white and turgid or smelly, discolored, and mushy. If the latter, the plant is suffering from root rot.
  • look at the yellowing on the leaves – is it accompanied by brown patches as well? If yes, it might be fungal disease that requires a fungicide to treat
  • look at the yellowing on the leaves – is it sort of like the color of the leaves is fading or faded? it might be too much light.

Leaf tips browning and crisping

Typically Peace Lilies start crisping and browning their leaf tips when they aren’t getting enough water. You may also notice lower leaves crisping up and dying too in this instance.

Plant is severely wilted and not perking back up

A severely wilted plant that isn’t perking back up can be due to several causes:

  1. It was kept too dry and wilted too hard to recover
  2. It received way too much light or heat and is severely damaged
  3. It has been severely overwatered and its roots have rotted

The first one is the most likely as peace lilies love to be regularly watered and will not do well if severely neglected for any length of time.

Do you have a Peace Lily? What is your favorite cultivar?

Happy growing!

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