Peace lily - should I be worried?

Plover, WI

Hi folks. I'm worried about this peace lily. It has great sentimental value as it came from the funeral of a beloved aunt. I'm not very experienced with plants, but I've had this one since 2008. It's never been a tremendous bloomer, and a lot of times it doesn't even blossom, just grows leaves. However I'm getting worried about it. I usually replace the soil every May. Last year I did two things different.

At the suggestion of a friend, I separated the plant into three segments. The other thing I did was I used a "moisture control" potting mix, and that last part has me especially concerned. At first I thought it was a great idea, but then I read that with this type of mix you run a risk of root rot, so I cut back on the watering. Now I'm afraid I didn't water it enough. I went and cut off all the leaves that were withering or turning brown, hoping it would help the remaining ones stay strong. So far one of the three hasn't grown back, the second looks like it has a new leaf coming in, and the third is doing best, with a new leaf or bloom coming in. I've attached two pictures: one I took tonight, and the other taken just after a repotting five years ago (for contrast.)

I plan on repotting it soon, and NOT with moisture control mix. However I'm concerned about what kind of mix to get; i.e. organic or non-organic, store-bought or special order from a small business, etc.

I've been doing a lot of online research and I understand the plant might just be in a "dormant" state from the long winter. Is it possible it just needs some new mix and it will start growing more? Any help would be appreciated.

Oh and one other thing - the last couple years I have watered her exclusively with distilled water. The tap water here is hard and full of chlorine.

Thank you!

Thumbnail by ArthurKing Thumbnail by ArthurKing
(Zone 9b)

I am no expert on this particular plant though no doubt I had 1 at some point. Generally, you do not want a big pot and lots of extra wet dirt around the roots because they can tend to rot. Your pot looks too big. Is that a different blue pot in your after shot? You know when you refresh your soil you do not necessarily need a bigger pot. You should take a look at the roots and if they do not fill the pot, I would not move it to a bigger pot. May I ask why your friend wanted you to split it up especially if you were going to keep the pieces together and not make new plants?

Did you cut apart the roots when you divided it? You usually lose root mass when you do this and if you didn't leave enough roots on each piece it can make the plant struggle. Were the rhizomes firm and healthy looking? You did this a year ago? It should be further along if it has been sitting in this new pot a year.

What you did causes the plant to go into a bit of shock so it can take a minute for it to start growing again though not a whole year. Plants also can concentrate on growing its roots after repotting instead of the their tops too. BTW spring is a good time to repot and even to divide for the plants internals are telling it to grow so it usually gets over the shock quickly and generally you can be a bit more brutal and the plant will tolerate it.

As far as the soil goes I would use any well-draining, all-purpose potting soil. I usually stayed away from the fancy soils with additives because I found it did not always end well when I used them. Spathiphyllum wallisii is a very common houseplant because they are easy and not very fussy so I would not worry about special ordering the dirt.

If you are going to repot it again soon realize it is already struggling so be so gentle. It is a hard call for it looks so unhappy in its current circumstances but you are going to stress it even more with disturbing it.

BTW, I am so impressed with your faithful care of this baby. You even buy distilled water which I bet it appreciates! I hope it bounces back for you, I flew all my Mom's plants to my home after she died and as each 1 died over time I was so sad. Looking at them always made me think of her, so I understand how you feel.

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

A little history first. All my peace lilies (3) are gifts to the family at a funeral. My parents didn’t want to take care of some of them so I took them off their hands. One was from my grandmother (1985), my brother (1997), and my dad (2015). The first two were soon neglected after many years and I thought they were dead (failed to water and then over-watered) so I threw them on the compost heap. The next spring my wife wanted me to move the compost heap/pile which I did. Within a foot or so I saw a sprig of green so I dug carefully to find out what it was – it was one of the peace lilies(my grandmother’s or brother’s). Put it aside and continue digging and loading into the wheelbarrow. Found another green sprig – yep, the other peace lily. Potted both up and still have both of them today. I think the year must’ve been 2007 when I threw them on the compost pile – the year before we got our second dog Duke as I remember that little booger digging a tunnel into the heap (as this was a 2 or 3 day project to move the pile).

This was May, 2008 We say his birth date was Valentine’s Day based on what we heard from the rescue group.

I repotted one of them this week after being in the same pot for 12 years. I never repot, never change the soil. I do add fresh soil to the surface if it looks somewhat depleted.

I finally repotted the smaller one of the two as I moved it outdoors for summer. Not the prettiest (but then I would never buy a peace lily since they are just a boring green leaf) but like you I do have some sentimental reasons to keep them.

I wished DG allowed more photos per post so I just have to select a few from the past and this week. Duke digging back in 2008, the peace lily with old leaves and burned leaves from growing into the shop light, roots, bigger pot and the pot it was constrained to for 12 years, and the groomed plant in its new container. PS - I did not rinse away the old "dirt" but just added soil to the bottom of the new pot and around the sides. I hope to take pictures of it later this summer.

PSS - the moisture control should be fine for a peace lily. This should give you more time between watering. I typically do not use it but will have a bag of it for thirsty plants (like colocasia and bog type plants)

Thumbnail by hcmcdole Thumbnail by hcmcdole Thumbnail by hcmcdole Thumbnail by hcmcdole Thumbnail by hcmcdole
Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

I forgot to add that peace lilies are tough as nails. If they can survive not only my neglect but also survive a winter buried a foot deep or more in a compost heap, they are one rugged plant. I wonder how long they actually live since my oldest one is now 35 years and going strong, next one is 23.

So hang in there and don't sweat the small stuff.

I read yesterday that the growers cheat on creating so many blooms by putting gibberellic acid (plant hormones) to their plants for sale.

Here is my other peace lily from last summer.

The third one is much smaller and in a bowl with heart philodendron and a dieffenbachia and a prayer plant (that died). Typical funeral plants.



Thumbnail by hcmcdole
(Zone 9b)

Duke was beyond cute!!!

Amazing story Butch and just WOW to have an indoor houseplant for 35 years!! Many people do not even have a spouse that long. LOL

I had read that growers add all sorts of growing hormones to their plants pushing them to grow big and lush. Then you get them home and they fall flat and are exhausted and easily die. I wonder how many would have been gardeners have been stopped dead in their growing tracks after having a few early plant deaths. I know this is why so many of my plants have died over the years! LOL That is my story and I am sticking to it!

I am in Butch's camp, I never repotted anything until I was forced to. LOL

Plover, WI

Thanks to both of you for your responses. To answer your questions, Kell, it is the same pot in both pictures. I've been told before to move the plant to a smaller pot but I was resistant because the blue pot is the one I've always used. But then the other day it occurred to me that if I move this plant to a smaller pot, I can buy a new plant to put in the original pot. ;)

I don't know why my friend suggested I separate the plant. Every year in the spring I take the plant to her house so I can dump the old soil in her compost pile. I live in an apartment building, you see, and while I don't think it would hurt anything the management probably wouldn't like me to just dump a bunch of dirt on the lawn, but I refuse to put it in the trash either. Plus she lets me use her garden tools and in exchange I give her the remainder of the potting soil in the bag so again it goes to good use rather than just going in the trash.

Last year she was helping me with actually putting the new soil into the pot and said I'd be better off to split up the roots. Since she has a lot more plants than I do, I figured she must know what she's talking about and so I let her do just that. There was no cutting involved as I recall. Also I had read in the past that peace lilies tend to grow so big that you need to "break off" some sections from time to time and let them grow on their own. Now it doesn't seem like such a good idea, but hindsight is always 20/20.

As for the distilled water, I have to buy it for use with a medical device anyway. Originally I used tap water but it seemed like the leaves would wither faster; I asked someone who said it was probably the chlorine. They also told me if I left a glass of tap water out overnight the chlorine and other bad stuff should just evaporate on its own, but since I buy distilled water by the gallon anyway I just switched over to it altogether.

(Zone 9b)

You might want to foliar feed with weak fertilizer water too. I found a spritz every week or so can help get more leaves.

Distilled water for CPAPS! My husband told me he needed more distilled water. Put a sign on my head IDIOT!! My mother used to say a fool and her money is soon separated. So I went on Amazon and ordered 3 gallons or $29, delivered. Yes $29 - $32.69 with tax. It has not even been delivered yet.

Today I was grocery shopping online for delivery and it is on sale for 10 for $10. I wanted to scream! Still do.

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

Quote from Kell :
You might want to foliar feed with weak fertilizer water too. I found a spritz every week or so can help get more leaves.

Distilled water for CPAPS! My husband told me he needed more distilled water. Put a sign on my head IDIOT!! My mother used to say a fool and her money is soon separated. So I went on Amazon and ordered 3 gallons or $29, delivered. Yes $29 - $32.69 with tax. It has not even been delivered yet.

Today I was grocery shopping online for delivery and it is on sale for 10 for $10. I wanted to scream! Still do.


Kelly,

Wow, that is highway robbery. I haven't bought distilled water in like forever but it seems like it should be fairly cheap at the store(s).

Hmm, 60 cents for a gallon at Walmart.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Great-Value-Distilled-Water-1-Gallon/10315382

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

Quote from ArthurKing :
Thanks to both of you for your responses. To answer your questions, Kell, it is the same pot in both pictures. I've been told before to move the plant to a smaller pot but I was resistant because the blue pot is the one I've always used. But then the other day it occurred to me that if I move this plant to a smaller pot, I can buy a new plant to put in the original pot. ;)

I don't know why my friend suggested I separate the plant. Every year in the spring I take the plant to her house so I can dump the old soil in her compost pile. I live in an apartment building, you see, and while I don't think it would hurt anything the management probably wouldn't like me to just dump a bunch of dirt on the lawn, but I refuse to put it in the trash either. Plus she lets me use her garden tools and in exchange I give her the remainder of the potting soil in the bag so again it goes to good use rather than just going in the trash.

Last year she was helping me with actually putting the new soil into the pot and said I'd be better off to split up the roots. Since she has a lot more plants than I do, I figured she must know what she's talking about and so I let her do just that. There was no cutting involved as I recall. Also I had read in the past that peace lilies tend to grow so big that you need to "break off" some sections from time to time and let them grow on their own. Now it doesn't seem like such a good idea, but hindsight is always 20/20.

As for the distilled water, I have to buy it for use with a medical device anyway. Originally I used tap water but it seemed like the leaves would wither faster; I asked someone who said it was probably the chlorine. They also told me if I left a glass of tap water out overnight the chlorine and other bad stuff should just evaporate on its own, but since I buy distilled water by the gallon anyway I just switched over to it altogether.


I have heard that about chlorine and fluorine in water debate for years that it will or won't dissipate by letting it sit over a period of time. I did that for years with filling 3 gallon kitty litter containers (about 10 at a time) without any convincing data or observation. Just took it as a fact.

This winter I had cataract surgery in December for one eye and January for the other. You are supposed to limit lifting to 10 pounds max and not bend over at the waist past horizontal for two weeks. Hmmm, this is going to be a dilemma so I bought a shower fitting to attach to a garden hose. Set it up before the first surgery and have been using it ever since. I've not noticed any differences in the plants' health due to straight tap water versus letting it sit for 24 hours or more.

The one thing is how much faster I can get all my watering done - less than an hour instead of 3 hours or more by pitcher. There are some problems though - kinked hose not only stops water flow but can hang on items on the floor, drips at the nozzle, over spray on the floor or wall if I am not careful (this is all in the basement so it will dry in no time).

I don't plan on going back to pitcher watering after this experiment. I did change my original 50 foot hose out for a 75 footer so I am not stretched to the max for the very back corner of the basement.

I will keep this system in place until further evidence shows it to be a poor choice.

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