How to Care for a Peace Lily: Watering, Planting and Repotting

If you're looking for a house plant that's attractive and pretty easy to grow , peace lilies might be your best bet.

Peace lilies can be identified by their dark green foliage and white-sheathed flowers. Speaking to Newsweek, plant expert Lisa Eldred Steinkopf of The Houseplant Guru website said some may assume the flower is the oval-shaped white "flag" of the plant, which is the most obvious part of the plant.

However, this is actually called a spathe and is a modified leaf. It protects the plant's "true flower structure," which is known as a spadix, she explained.

The spadix is a thin, white "knobby protrusion" and the spathe wraps behind it to protect it.

"The spathe is also a signal to pollinators that a flower is present and needs pollination," she said.

Considered by some as the "perfect house plant," peace lilies are evergreen perennials that have no significant problems, prone to few pests or diseases, according to Dr. Leonard Perry, a horticulture professor at the University of Vermont.

However, there are a few elements to bear in mind, as they can be toxic to some.

Speaking to Newsweek, Richard Cheshire, a plant doctor at Patch, said: "Peace lilies are toxic to pets and small children, so it may be best to keep her out of reach of tiny fingers or paws."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) explains that peace lilies can irritate your cat's mouth and esophagus. Find out more about plants that are toxic to cats here.

A close-up of a peace lily plant.
A close-up of a peace lily plant. The oval-shaped white “flag” of a peace lily is actually a spathe which protects the "true flower structure" of the plant, which is the spadix. iStock/Getty Images Plus

Here are some tips on how to care for a peace lily, according to plant experts.

Watering Peace Lilies

Cheshire said: "Peace lilies can deal with dry soil, so don't worry if you forget to water yours every now and then."

He advised lightly watering the plant when the top inch of the soil feels dry and keeping the leaves fresh by wiping them with a damp cloth.

Peace lilies "love humidity," the plant specialist explained, so you should mist them every few days or keep them hydrated in steamy bathrooms and kitchens.

Plant expert Eldred Steinkopf noted peace lilies are water lovers but "don't want to be standing in water."

She explained many plant growers believe waiting for peace lilies to wilt before watering them is an easy way to know when to add water.

"The problem is, they usually do recover, but there will be consequences, such as yellowing leaves, brown leaf tips and edges to the leaves, and if left dry too long, death," she warned.

A person spraying water on plant leaves.
A person spraying water on the leaves of a plant. Peace lilies love humidity, so you should mist them every few days. iStock/Getty Images Plus

Planting Peace Lilies

Eldred Steinkopf said peace lilies should be planted in a well-drained potting medium. However, extra peat moss (dead fibrous material that forms following the decomposition of mosses and other living material) could be added to the medium to help with water retention, "as this plant does not want to dry out," she said.

Plant doctor Chesire advised feeding your peace lily plant with liquid fertilizer a couple of times in spring and summer.

Professor Perry also says you should fertilize peace lilies sparingly, "preferably when plants are putting on new growth or blooming" and should be done only once or twice a year.

"If the flower blooms are rather green, this is a sign plants are getting too much fertility," according to Perry.

Repotting Peace Lilies

Cheshier said you'll want to repot peace lilies in the spring using house plant compost.

Generally you'll know it's "time to up-pot" the plant when the container is full of plants and it's hard to keep it well-watered or you're watering it more often than normal to keep it moist, explained Eldred Steinkopf.

"This is a multi-stemmed plant so if it fills the pot, it can be up-potted to a larger container, or split apart to make more plants which can be potted up on their own," she said.

Perry says peace lilies should be repotted using "a standard indoor potting soil" and you should not fertilize for a few months until roots begin to grow.

"Use a very well-drained, porous potting mix such as one containing mostly peat moss, fine bark and perlite [a lightweight granular material] or similar amendments," the professor advises.

A peace lily plant near a window.
A peace lily plant seen near a window. Peace lilies should be given a bright light, such as one offered by an east or west window. iStock/Getty Images Plus

Best Lighting for Peace Lilies

Even though the peace lily is a flowering plant, it does not need a lot of light to bloom. "In fact, the peace lily does not want to be in high light levels. It may burn the leaves," Eldred Steinkopf warned.

Peace lilies should be given a bright light, such as one offered by an east or west window or even a few feet from a south window, the plant expert said.

"Don't let the plant dry out completely. Keep it evenly moist. Give it a spot in bright light to allow it to flower well," she advised.

Cheshire explained peace lilies will survive in most light conditions. "They'll handle most light levels, but prefer indirect light."

But a good amount of indirect light will ensure they continue "throwing up those beautiful white-capped flowers," he added.

Best Temperature for Peace Lilies

Plant doctor Cheshire said: "If you're at a comfortable temperature, they will be too," when it comes to the temperature conditions for peace lilies.

Native to the tropical regions of the Americas and Southeast Asia, peace lilies prefer warmth. Home temperatures tend to be fine for them, preferring to be at around 65 to 75 degrees (Fahrenheit) during the day and up to 10 degrees cooler at night, Perry explains.

They can tolerate "a bit more of a range, or even rather consistent temperatures" as in many office or public settings. However, you should not let them "get below 50 degrees, or even below 60 degrees for more than a day or two," the professor warns.

A patch of peace lilies outdoors.
A patch of peace lilies outdoors. iStock/Getty Images Plus