The broad tropical leaves of the Peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii) and their classic “spath” flowers make them a popular classic. They’re also one of the most recommended beginner plants, so peace lily leaves turning yellow can be a mite discouraging. In this article, we’ll explain what might be causing this issue and help get your Peace Lily back to perfect health.
Why are my peace lily leaves turning yellow? The most common reasons for yellow peace lily leaves are;
- Aging Leaves
- Too Much Water
- Water Quality Issues
- Too Much Or Too Little Light
- Low Temperatures Or Drafts
- Nutrient Deficiency
- Transplant Shock
Diagnosing the cause of yellow leaves on your Peace Lily takes a little knowledge, but the remedies are usually simple. Let’s go through the different causes to help you find out what’s ailing your Peace Lily and explain how to fix each problem.
1. Aging Leaves – A Normal Cause For Yellow Leaves On Peace Lilies
Let’s get one common non-issue out of the way. Old leaves naturally turn yellow on Peace Lilies, and will eventually will dry up and fall off.
You can remove old leaves once they start to yellow and fade, but it’s not a sign of a problem. Cut the leaves off at the base of the stem with sterile pruning shears.
2. Too Much Water Is The Most Common Cause Of Peace Lily Leaves Turning Yellow
Overwatering is the most common reason why peace lilies get yellow leaves, and is one of the most common problems with houseplant care generally.
The problem with overwatering is that it can be caused by providing too much water, or growing your peace lily in a pot with too little drainage or poorly draining potting mix. Both result in the roots standing in water, preventing oxygen delivery to the roots, leading to root rot.
The best solution is to prevent this in the first place and only water your peace lily when it needs watered, rather than watering on a schedule. For more detail on how to water your indoor plants to perfection, read my article about how to tell when your houseplants need water.
If necessary, repot using a lighter mix that holds moisture but drains well. Organic mixes are an excellent choice. If you want a potting mix that will be perfect for your peace lily, try this ready made organic potting mix. It’s ideal for many indoor plants, including your peace lilies. I’ve used it many times with great success.
Make sure their pot has drainage holes so water never collects at the bottom of the container. If you ever have this problem, let the roots dry out before rewatering to halt any root rot or fungus.
Going forward, remember that Peace Lilies like moist soil—but wait until the top half of the soil is dry before rewatering.
Peace Lilies are great beginner plants because they communicate: they simply wilt when they want water. It can be alarming to see your beloved tropical beauties collapsed across their pots, but they’ll spring back to life after a refreshing drink … and they don’t stay mad.
As long your Peace Lilies don’t go without water too long they should be fine. It’s not good for them, but their water problems usually aren’t about occasional wilting. However, starving them of water regularly and letting them fall over for too long can damage the plant, resulting in your peace lily leaves turning yellow.
Keeping a better watering schedule is the cure. They’ll need more watering if the plants are in strong light or outdoors during hot weather. If you mess up, the plants are very forgiving: just remove the damaged leaves and try to do better.
Although underwatering is a common reason for a peace lily to droop, there are a number of other reasons you should be aware of. I’ve written an article all about the common reasons peace lilies droop.
4. Water Quality
Though they aren’t delicate, Peace Lilies can be a bit sensitive to chlorine, and this can lead to yellow leaves on your peace lilies, particularly if your tap water is also heavily mineralized.
It’s a good practice with any houseplant to let the water age overnight. This lets the chlorine gas out so it won’t burn their roots. If you have further concerns about the quality of your tap water, consider using rainwater, filtered water or distilled water for your peace lilies.
PRO TIP: A few drops of inexpensive dechlorinator used for aquariums is great for removing chlorine from your tap water, and you won’t have to let the water sit overnight.
5. Lighting Issues
Another reason Peace Lilies are so popular is their tolerance for low light. Their natural niche is as forest undergrowth, so they like shade. They are one of the few houseplants that do well in dim corners.
They do need some light, of course. Photosynthesis is what gives them their lovely green color, after all, and their leaves will turn yellow or pale in the dark. Barring extremes, the only real effect of dim light is fewer flowers: the leaves still remain fresh and green.
The usual problem with light comes on the other extreme. Peace Lily leaves can yellow if their light is too strong, and hot direct sun will scorch their leaves with brown spots or streaks. All of these conditions are remedied by filtering their light or moving them to a shadier spot.
6. Temperature Issues Or Drafts
Peace Lilies are hardy from 65-85°F, so they do just fine living indoors with us. If your plant has yellow leaves from temperature extremes, you’ll probably know why.
They hate cold drafts, and leaving them on a cold porch can quickly lead to leaf yellowing—or worse. They can’t take temps below 45°F. The solution in either case is to move them to a draft-free location within their safe temperature zone.
7. Yellow Leaves On Peace Lily Plants Are Occasionally Due To Nutrient Deficiencies
Though they don’t need much fertilizer, Peace Lilies do need basic nutrition. Like any plant, their leaves will begin turning yellow if they don’t have enough nitrogen.
Magnesium and Iron deficiencies are usually easy to diagnose: if they are short on either one, the leaves will turn yellow but the veins will stay green. Be aware that excessive light can also cause this pattern of coloration, so make sure you’ve identified the correct cause.
The best and most convenient way to keep Peace Lilies happy is to pot them in organic soil, which provides both nutrients and proper drainage. You can also give them a balanced, water soluble fertilizer once per month during the growing season. This is the fertilizer I use for most of my indoor plants. I’ve used it with great success for many years now.
Take care not to overdo it with fertilizer, as this can cause more harm to your plant than underferilizing. A little goes a long way. I almost always use my houseplant fertilizer at half the recommended strength on the pack to ensure I have no problems with excessive fertilizer.
8. Repotting / Transplant Shock
This easy-going plant doesn’t usually make a big deal out of repotting and transplanting, but it’s still a shock to their system that can produce yellow leaves.
Try to repot in the springtime, at the start of their growing season. This will give you plant plenty of time to reestablish in it’s new pot. They will also tolerate being root bound quite well, so don’t rush to repot your peace lily too quickly.
If your peace lily develops yellow leaves after repotting, give it time and some tender care. It should soon show new green growth. If the yellowing continues or there’s not new leaves soon, look for other possible causes. Peace Lilies don’t tend to sulk for long.
Another great thing about Peace Lilies: they don’t attract pests like some ornamentals do. If you keep them healthy, they can usually handle the bugs themselves.
They aren’t immune, of course, but if you see signs of insect life it’s not hard to fix. The main pests are aphids and mealybugs. If you’re not watering quite enough, you also might get spider mites. By the time you see yellow leaves from insect infestations, the critters will most likely already have colonies you can easily spot.
Wiping the leaves is a quick basic treatment that usually solves the problem. More persistent infestations can be handled with an insecticidal soap spray. Start by applying a light mixture and, if needed, work up from there.
We’re saving the worst for last, because there’s no worthwhile cures for the Peace Lilies’ two main diseases: Cylindrocladium spathyphylli and Phytophthora parasitica fungi. These live in the soil and can rot Peace Lilies from their roots.
The best treatment is prevention, because it’s probably too late if you’re already seeing yellow leaves from this cause. These diseases can’t spread or establish themselves easily if you let the soil dry out in between waterings, and sterilize your tools before touching the plant or its soil.
General Tips For Treating Peace Lily Leaves Turning Yellow
Whatever the cause, here are important tips for treating yellow leaves on your Peace Lily.
• Don’t throw the plant out! These plants sprout new leaves quickly, so yellow leaves can quickly be replaced by healthy green leaves once you have treated the problem.
• Take action. Waiting is a really bad option. None of the solutions are extreme or difficult, so you won’t be endangering your plant by taking action to fix yellow leaves on your peace lily.
• Remove yellow leaves. They won’t turn green again, so take them off now. Yellow leaves are weakened and can invite further trouble.
• Sterilize your gardening tools to avoid spreading any pests or diseases that might be causing a problem. Wash any dirt off first. One simple method is to dip or wipe them with 70% isopropyl alcohol and let them dry. Household disinfectants like Lysol work too.
• After you’ve diagnosed and corrected the problem, observe the plant closely until it starts to regrow new leaves. Peace lilies are hardy and should spring back quickly … but you want to be sure your actions resolved the issue. If the plant doesn’t show new growth within a few weeks, reevaluate your conditions. It might be more than one thing!
The great thing about Peace Lilies is they love our homes and don’t mind a little neglect. Their main weaknesses are overly bright light and too much water. Ensure you avoid these problems and your peace lily will reward you by looking fantastic in your home.
If you do run into a few yellow leaves, it may just be age. Go through our checklist to make sure nothing’s wrong. These low-light champions don’t mope about a few leaves … give them some love and they’ll grow back better than ever!
I’ve written a full peace lily care guide that covers everything you need to know to grow vibrant and healthy peace lily plants. Many thanks for reading this article and I hope you can say goodbye to peace lily leaves turning yellow for good.