Peace Lilly Browning tips of leaves
This one is a topic that hits close to home for me, and I think many. For years I’ve been told that peace lilies are the “easy” house plant to keep and I’m sure for many it is. Unfortunately for me (and my sister who can kill the hardiest of house plants) that hasn’t seemed to be the case and I always seem to have even minor issues with them.
The most common issue that I seem to come across is the browning tips of each of the leaves of my peace lilies. It usually starts off with just one of the leaves and then quickly turns on almost all of them. For anyone reading this that has experienced the same thing you will be able to relate to the feelings of frustration that I commonly experience. I’d like to think that perhaps it’s because I care just a little too much and if I cared just a little less then perhaps my beautiful peace lilies would do better (hard to believe I know!)
There are several reasons that may cause the leaf tips to turn brown, and in this guide, we will go over the most common ones.
When conditions are less than ideal, the tips of the leaves might start to turn brown. Unfortunately, once this happens, the tips won’t turn green again.
If you don’t like the appearance of the brown tips, you can either trim off the entire leaf, and wait for new foliage to replace it, or snip off just the tips.
The 5 main causes consist of:
- Moisture Stress
- Temperature Extremes
- Lack of Humidity
- Sun Scorch
- Moisture stress- either overwatering or Usually, we tell by feeling the top of the soil however this can be deceiving as a lot more can be going on deeper down in the pot. If you have your peace lily in a pot too large for it then it may have a lot of water catching in the bottom of the pot and rotting the roots.
Underwatering- usually a lot easier to be able to tell because the leaves will be wilted and be dry and crispy. A nice big drink and a little liquid fertiliser will help with bringing it back to life relatively quickly with this one
- Temperature Extremes – Too hot or too cold will affect your poor peace lily, if it’s too hot try putting the A/c on and if too cold the heater, keeping it far enough away from any air vents to prevent it from drying out.
- Lack of humidity- Where you live can make a huge difference to the life of your peace lily however, we can’t all live in area where the humidity is high but that’s not to say we can’t keep our peace lilies happy. If you want to increase humidity a small spritz on the leaves can help or try placing some rocks in the water catcher underneath your peace lily.
- Overfertilising – plain and simple you care too much like me and you’ve gone a little overboard with the fertiliser. Give it at least 4 weeks minimum before trying again, if it’s the cooler months maybe give it a little longer and wait until it warms up a bit more before trying again. They love liquid fertilizer but there is such thing as too much. You can usually draw the conclusion that this is the problem when you can rule out that its not over watering or underwatering.
- Sun Scorch – This one I am all too familiar with, I keep my peace lilies in a sun room which is great for the winter months but come summer it’s a little bit too much sun for them. Easiest way to fix this is to simply change the location of the plant to somewhere where the sun may not be as extreme.
A little more detail if your heart so desires however you should be able to trouble shoot quickly with the short notes above.
- Moisture Stress
A common cause of brown tips on peace lilies is problems with hydration.
Too Much Water
Plants that receive too much water do not have access to the oxygen they need. The roots absorb oxygen from the soil space, and when the soil becomes supersaturated, the roots of Spathiphyllum cannot breathe. If supersaturated soil is a problem, it's easy to guess that you only need to water less often, but that may not be the solution. Plants can also be water-logged if the soil is not drained fast enough, or if they are growing in a container that is too large. Spathiphyllum tends to prefer being root bound than when grown in pots that are too large. This is because it is difficult to supply enough water to the plants without oversaturating the surrounding soil. The extra soil in the large pot retains water and drains slowly, so the roots are always in moist soil. The upper inch of soil will dry out causing you to think that it needs to be watered again but this is not always a reliable indicator. If your Peace Lily is in a pot that is too large, the soil under the surface can take much longer to dry. The best and quickest way to be able to tell for sure how your soil is doing at the bottom of your pot is to use a soil moisture meter which you can find here : https://www.oldboysflowers.com.au/products/3-in-1-meter
If you’re having trouble maintaining the right moisture level, consider repotting into a smaller container, if yours is too big, or repotting in soil with added perlite , this helps with the drainage of the soil below and will hopefully improve the life of your plant.
Insufficient drainage of the container can cause roots to remain in saturated soil for extended periods of time, even if the plants are provided with the proper amount of water.
If the container has poor drainage, even if you are offering your plant the right amount of water it’s likely that the roots are sitting in oversaturated soil for far longer than they should.
It is very tempting to have your peace lily in a pot that doesn’t have drainage just for the ease of not having to worry about the off-run water while your plant is inside. However, be warned that even though it may seem like a good idea at the time it will not provide the plant with the sufficient drainage it requires and water pooling at the bottom of your plant can cause a headache for you and your plant.
Some of the self-watering pots that have a catchment at the bottom can work if you are adamant you don’t want to worry about a separate water catcher however that’s when I stress the importance of a soil moisture meter just to be sure the water is not all sitting at the bottom of the pot. Pay particular attention to the plant and how it is responding in its environment especially if you don’t have a soil moisture meter.
Pictured: Small Peace Lily which has been sitting in soil that is too wet for too long and not given the opportunity for the soil to dry sufficiently.
Note: Leaves are drooping and tips are slowly turning brown.
If this plant isn’t given the opportunity to dry sufficiently then the roots will continue to rot and will result in the plant easily being able to be pulled from the pot and looking like this…
Rest assured even though this plant looks like it has seen better days and I can guarantee it has this can still be rectified and your beautiful peace lily can be restored back to its full bill of health, simply plant into a small pot with half perlite half potting mix give a drink of water until the soil is moist and then don’t water again until the top of the soil feels dry. (REMEMBER, if the pot is too large then you will continue the cycle and the roots will struggle to re-grow)
Too Little Water
Too little water is just as much of a problem for your peace lily as oversaturation.
Deprived of the moisture it needs, the plant will become stressed, which can cause dry, crisp leaf tips. If you see drooping or wilting along with the browning tips, you can be confident that too little moisture is the problem.
This problem develops after repeated underwatering or allowing the plant to become dehydrated, so don’t feel bad if you underwater your plant occasionally. Just take care to check the top inch of soil every few days and add water when it feels dry.
Peace lilies generally aren’t fussy, but like all types of plants they require a specific temperature range to survive and thrive.
These plants do love a nice, toasty environment – but there can be too much of a good thing. Conversely, they will suffer if it becomes too cold (I know how they feel).
If it’s too hot, the solution is to either move your plant to a cooler location away from windows with direct sun exposure or put the AC on, on those hotter days.
It goes without saying that whether it be the heat on in winter or the a/c on in summer be sure to keep your plants away from any vents as it will cause the leaves to dry out and as we all know they hate a lack of humidity, which leads me to our next point …
Lack of Humidity
Peace lilies come from tropical areas that are warm and humid. If they don’t receive the humidity that they’ve evolved to thrive in, the tips of the leaves may turn dry and brown.
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to increase humidity. You can move your plant to the bathroom so it can enjoy the heat and moisture of your daily shower, or group a collection of houseplants together so they can raise the humidity level around them.
An easy way to increase humidity around your plant is to use a tray filled with pebbles and water. Place the plant on the tray and the humidity from evaporation will help keep those leaves green and glossy – just remember to top up the water regularly.
You can also spritz the foliage once or twice a day with a spray bottle, though this is a time-consuming option.
When you give a plant too much fertilizer, this can result in a build-up of sodium and other salts in the soil. Since peace lilies need very little fertilizer, it should be simple to avoid this problem – but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
Watering from the top, rather than the bottom, can help flush out excess salt from the soil. Only limit fertilising once a month during the spring and summer using an all-purpose indoor plant food. If it’s too late and you’ve already applied too much fertilizer, you’ll need to remove the plant from its container and knock away as much of the potting medium as you can. Then, repot in the same or a new container with fresh soil.
If your peace lily is kept in a location where it receives direct sun, it may experience sun scorch. This often starts at the tips of the leaves, which will turn brown and dry.
The brown patches may continue to extend further down the leaf unless you change the sun exposure.
This is perhaps the easiest problem to solve – simply move the plant to a spot where it will receive a bit less light.
Bringing It All Together
Reviving a Peace Lily with browning tips isn't just about fixing one issue; it's about understanding its needs and creating an environment where it can thrive. From watering wisdom to the right light and everything in between, it's a journey of adjustments and learning.
Final Thoughts: The Path to Green Bliss
Remember, every brown tip tells a story, a chance to learn, and improve. Your Peace Lily isn't just a plant; it's a partner in the dance of indoor gardening, one where steps can be learned and the rhythm perfected. So, here's to the ups and downs, the learning curves, and the joy of seeing your Peace Lily flourish, brown tips and all, as we grow together in this green journey.