So why are your peace lily leaves turning brown?
Is it something very serious and can you make the color return to that unblemished glossy green?
These and more are some of the issues we would be discussing in this article.
Houseplant parents don’t usually expect too much from their plants. In the case of the peace lily, the waxy green foliage is adequate compensation for the efforts in care and maintenance.
The occasional blooms of stunning, creamy white flowers are adorable extras to what is already a cool, natural décor for homes and offices. That is why your peace lily leaves turning brown can bring on feelings of dismay.
Aside from the fact that leaf-browning constitutes obvious blemishes on leaves, it’s almost like your gardening skills are being questioned.
Because you must be doing something wrong for this to happen, after all, peace lilies are supposed to be easy to care for.
Peace Lily Leaves Turning Brown: Why & How To Fix
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii) is a tropical plant with origins in South Asia. They thrive well in Indirect light and in the US are cultivated as perennials in hardiness zones 10 – 13.
The humidity-loving peace lilies are generally considered easy to care for. But the plants can be quite fussy. They respond well to adequate care but deviations easily show up in the leaves turning brown or yellowish.
However, not all cases of brown leaves can be attributed to some underlying problem or problems. Sometimes, this is just a natural cycle in older plants.
When it comes to peace lily leaves turning brown, a careful examination of the causes shows that the issue is closely linked to improper care. Essentially, the problem can be prevented to a large extent with proper care.
Let’s now take a deeper look at some of the important reasons for the brown discoloration of peace lily leaves and how to fix or prevent it.
Reasons Your Peace Lily Leaves Are Turning Brown
The most obvious symptom of improper watering on peace lily leaves is brown tips. The browning can progress down the leaf if the problem is not resolved.
Here is the thing, too much or too little water can cause the same condition. But, it is better than erring on the side of too little water because too much water can lead to root rot which is a far bigger problem to deal with.
Over-watering can also be a result of poor draining soil and/or the absence of drainage holes in potted peace lilies.
Solution – Achieving the right balance between underwatering and over-watering peace lily is key. The ideal peace lily watering frequency is about once a week. This could be more or less depending on the weather conditions.
But if the plant is suffering from too much water (soil would be too moist or soggy), quit watering immediately and allow the soil to dry out first. Fingers crossed that the roots aren’t affected already.
Then resume watering when the leaves start to wilt or droop slightly.
You could improve the watering schedule by getting a moisture meter. With one, you can easily tell when the soil is dry and ready for the next watering session.
For under-watered peace lily, the solution is to irrigate the soil immediately. You would have to drench the soil with water until excess water starts coming out of the drainage holes.
For poor draining soil, you’d have to get better potting soil from the garden center. Or simply mix in perlite or sand to the already bought potting soil to improve drainage.
Finally, you want to check the drainage holes for signs of blockage. In older peace lilies, the roots might grow down to block the holes. If you can’t unblock the hole or holes, repot the plant in a slightly bigger pot using similar potting soil.
Root rot is the final result of over-watering your peace lily. The underlying cause is the proliferation of harmful fungi that thrive in soggy soils. It can be fatal making brown leaves the least of your problems when it sets in.
Affected plants develop dark-colored roots tend instead of milky. They also give off a rancid, unpleasant smell. You could easily check for root rot by carefully uprooting the peace lily. Dark and smelly roots are clears signed of root rot.
Solution – The best for is preventive. Simply observe the best practices in terms of irrigation described in the previous section. But if the rot is already present, the fix depends on how far gone the roots are.
If the whole root system is already infected, immediately dispose of the plant and potting soil. Then wash the pot with bleach solution or soap to sterilize it before using it again.
If only a small section of the root system is affected, carefully prune the affected parts and repot the peace lily in a new pot using fresh potting soil.
If you want to refuse the pot, ensure you wash it with either bleach or soap solution.
Excess fertilization can also lead to brown leaves in peace lilies. The excess salts deposited in the soil can lead to fertilizer burn that turns the leaves brown.
Solution – Peace lilies growing in nutrient-rich potting soil don’t require much fertilization. A schedule of once every few months in the growing season is adequate.
The first line of action is to stop using fertilizer for about 6 months. And when you resume, use only balanced, water-soluble fertilizers.
To be pretty sure you don’t feed them excess nutrients, you could further dilute the fertilizer to about a quarter or a third of its strength.
Finally, schedule fertilizing around the watering period. Essentially, do it early in the mornings after watering the soil. Remember, it should be done once every few months.
Salts from Hard water and fertilizers
Another downside of over-fertilization is the excess salts or minerals deposited in the soil. This problem also occurs if hard water is used to irrigate the plants. In both cases, the result is poor peace lily health with brown leaves as one of the symptoms.
Solution – Quit using hard water to irrigate your plant. Distilled water or spring water is recommended. You can also use rainwater.
You also want to get rid of the salts in the soil. The best way is to thoroughly drench the soil with distilled water until the excess drains out of the holes. You can repeat the process a couple more times. Ensure the soil is dry (or leaves are beginning to wilt) in between flushing sessions.
Humidity & Temperature
Being tropical plants, peace lilies love humid environments. The leaves turning brown could be a result of low humidity in the area.
Solution – The fixes for this issue are quite straightforward:
- Move the plant where there is adequate air moisture – your bathroom for instance
- Place the peace lily’s pot or planter on a saucer/tray filled with water. Make sure the pot doesn’t sit directly on the water though. Use pebbles or small wooden blocks to elevate the pot above the water. The water evaporating from the saucer would raise the humidity
- Using a humidifier is also a great option
Too much sun
Peace lilies, though tropical plants, dislike over-exposure to direct sunlight. The resulting ‘sun scorch’ will turn the leaves brown starting from the tips.
Solution – Either move the plant away from the current location or erect a sunscreen to protect the plant from direct sunlight. Your sunscreen must allow sufficient sunlight to get through.
Handling Peace Lily Brown Leaves
The good news about peace lily leaves turning brown is that they are rarely fatal to the plant.
But you don’t want to leave them on the plant because they make the plant look unkempt and unhealthy.
Here are a few tips of tips on what to do about the brown leaves:
- If you are averse to cutting your plant, you can simply turn the pot so the leaves are hidden from view.
- Cut the affected parts out. Keep in mind that the parts would not grow back.
- If only the tip is affected, use sterilized scissors to trim it out following the contours of the leaves so that it retains its shape.
- Cut out the leaf from the base of the stalk if the whole leaf is affected.
- If the stem, stalk, and leaf are all turning brown, prune off the stem at the soil line.
The dark green leaves of peace lily usually emerge directly from the soil on slender stalks.
With the best of care and the right conditions, the leaves shouldn’t face many problems.
But the leaves, starting from the edges in most cases, can turn brown.
There are several reasons why this could happen. However, the main reasons are linked to either overeating or underwatering.
The buildup of excess salts in the soil, long exposure to direct sunlight, and low humidity are also conditions that could lead to peace lily leaves turning brown.