Peace lilies are a wonderful starter plant since they are relatively easy to care for. They can grow in a variety of environments and are a very hardy plant that adapts well to changes. Though it is not a true lily, it still produces beautiful white flowers that lend themselves to the plant's name since the white flowers resemble white flags of surrender.
Peace lilies are one of the most versatile plants. Even for people who are generally hopeless with plants, these plants are a great place to start. Though they prefer bright, indirect light, peace lilies can grow even in relatively low light levels. This makes them perfect for apartments, offices, or any other places that may not be an ideal spot for pickier house plants. They are usually best as indoor plants in most areas since they are sensitive to cold and too much direct light, but can grow in warmer climates. Plant them in a shady area where the soil will stay moist. Wherever they grow, keep in mind that they are toxic if ingested, so keep them out of reach of pets and children.
Peace lilies enjoy being crowded in their pots, but they do still require the occasional transplant. Replanting them every spring can help the plant thrive with fresh soil and keep them from outgrowing their pots. Especially if the peace lily begins to wilt every few days even with regular watering, it is time to replant to a pot that won’t need to be watered as often. When transplanting, move them to a pot only slightly bigger than the existing pot, no more than a third larger than the root ball. Peace lilies are resilient, so they can be handled a bit rough while transplanting.
If you want more peace lilies in your home, it's fairly simple to divide the plant into smaller plants. While transplanting, split the lily into smaller clumps. Be sure to keep at least a few leaves to a clump. If you want to experiment with growing peace lilies, one of the divided sections can be grown in water. They grow well in water as long as the base of the plant is kept slightly suspended above the water to keep it from rotting. If you already have enough peace lilies, the new peace lilies can make wonderful gifts to friends or family, especially as a housewarming gift to someone who is just starting a plant collection.
If you want to start a new plant from scratch instead of transplanting, you can harvest seeds from a peace lily plant. Watch the flowers for signs of pollination like green hoods and swollen green center spikes. Leave these pollinating flowers alone for four to six months. Once the pod becomes dry and brown or black, cut the seedpod stalk at its base with clean pruning shears. Scrape the seeds out of the pods and put them on a hard, smooth, flat surface. Separate the seeds from the leftover pod and scraps. Use them right away or store them in a cool, dry place in a bag or envelope.
When germinating a seed, it can help improve growing and drainage to plant in germination potting mixes before moving to regular soil. Spread the seeds on the soil mixture or on top of a thin layer of moss on top of the soil. Place the hopeful seed in bright but indirect sunlight, and cover the pot with a clear piece of plastic or glass to help keep the moisture and humidity in as the seed grows. If you need to water, use bottom-watering, where you place the pot in water about halfway up the pot until the top of the soil is wet again. The seed should sprout in about ten days.
Peace lilies are known as very dramatic plants. They will suddenly start to wilt if they do not have enough water, and this is a good indication to water your peace lily immediately. They will perk back up in a few hours after being watered. Keep the soil moist, and when the top inch of the soil is dry, give the lily more water until there is overflow coming out of the bottom of the pot. Since they are native to tropical rainforests of America, they can be misted, which helps keep their leaves from getting dusty, but it is not necessary to keep them healthy.
Peace lilies are known for their beautiful and simple flowers. If it has been a while since your lily bloomed, move it to a spot bright spot with indirect light. While they can survive in low light areas, they will rarely bloom there. Once it is blooming, watch for the spathe, the spiky part within the white flower, to turn green. Once it does, you can cut it off at the base and possibly get more flowers, or simply let it wither naturally.
If you are getting flowers but they are weak or green, it may be due to fertilizer. Green flowers can mean too much fertilizer, whereas weak flowers can mean that the plant needs fertilizer so that it can get more phosphorous. Peace lilies can grow fine without fertilizer for quite some time, and different people choose how often they prefer fertilization. Some fertilize every six weeks while others wait until the plant shows signs that it needs a bit of help. Especially if you fertilize often, take the plant outside or in the sink every six months or so and flush them with water to keep any salt from building up from fertilizing.
There are a few possible health issues that a peace lily can have, usually easily solved. Yellowing leaves can be caused by overwatering or underwatering, or sometimes that leaf is just getting old and ready to fall out. Brown leaf edges are usually from too much sunlight or over-fertilizing, but they can also be caused by not enough water or humidity. If you start getting fungus gnats, water your plant a bit less and let the topsoil dry out a bit more. If that doesn’t work, you may need an insecticide or transplant. Other pests such as scale and mealybugs need a thorough leaf washing. Wipe down the leaves with soapy water until signs of these bugs are gone. Experiment with watering, fertilizing, and sunlight to see what your peace lily thrives on.
Though poisonous and not edible, peace lilies can have some wonderful benefits. Many have quoted a 1989 NASA study that demonstrated plants like peace lilies improve air quality. While this is an exaggeration of a plant’s abilities in a large space like an office or home, they do still help remove formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide. Though not a miracle air cleanser, they still help clear the air.
Plants and flowers can also help people reduce stress, improve concentration, minimize seasonal depression, and a whole host of other psychological benefits. This trait is not specific or exclusive to peace lilies, but their simplicity helps beginners and those unable to care for more complex plants. They are a wonderful house plant to start a collection or keep a simple bit of greenery in a living or workspace. Peace lilies make your world a little brighter and your room a little greener.
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