A number of issues can lead to a peace lily dying. From the wrong growing temperatures, chilling damage to any part of the plant, or pests robbing the peace lily of essential nutrients it needs for buds to open, causing flowers to die before they get a chance to bloom.
Discover the pertinent information you need to know to stop a peace lily from dying and revive it back to health, or give your buds the best chance for longer-lasting blooms.
Why Is My Peace Lily Dying?
This is the question top of mind when you’re sure you’ve followed the guidance in every peace lily handbook.
Like most plants, there’s a variety of reasons that can be problematic leading to either the entire plant dying back, the leaves turning brown or black then dying back, but more so on the peace lily plant, the flower buds dying before they open.
When you notice signs that your peace lily plant is dying, it’s usually stress-related. Three of the highest stress times for the peace lily are:
- After it’s been repotted
- When it produces flower buds but doesn’t have the nutrients needed for blooming
- Temperature drops in the winter
Advice for each is outlined below explaining what’s happened, what you can do to revive your plant, and tips to prevent the same problem from reoccurring.
For a Peace Lily Dying After Repotting
When you repot a peace lily, the root ball needs to be planted at the right depth, which should be just 1cm to 3cm below the rim of the container. If you’ve repotted a peace lily and it’s either planted too deep or not deep enough, it’s common for the leaves to wilt.
Peace lily’s don’t like being disturbed so it’s best to wait until they absolutely need to be repotted. A simple way to tell it needs repotting is to inspect the drainage holes of the pot looking for roots expanding through them.
When roots are blocking the drainage holes, it lets you know the plant is rootbound. When that happens, there’s a lack of oxygen in the soil and the plant will struggle to absorb water.
That’s the primary cause of a peace lily dying. Not being able to feed due to being rootbound in a pot that it’s outgrown.
When repotting, you don’t need an extra-large container. A rootbound peace lily, provided you’ve spotted it early enough, should only need the pot size increased by 1-inch to a maximum of 3-inches.
It is common to see peace lilies wilt soon after repotting. This is common but the leaves should only be wilting and not turning brown or black.
To prevent foliage discoloration, it’s important to water the plant thoroughly one to two hours before repotting, then again right after the plant has been repotted.
The one thing you don’t want to happen when you’re repotting a peace lily is for any of the roots to dry out. Each root is responsible for getting nutrients to the foliage and flower buds so any that get too dry will show on the foliage soon after repotting.
This is usually what happens when you start to see one part of the plant have leaves turn brown or black before dying. It’s a part of the root ball that’s dried out. To stop that from happening, water the plant deeply before repotting it.
For those experiencing their peace lily dying after repotting, consider the following three points:
- Is the new pot size one to three inches larger than the previous?
- Did you water it plenty for at least an hour before repotting it?
- Is the root ball planted between 1cm to 3cm below the rim of the container?
Repotting your plant again keeping the above points in mind may be enough to revive a dying peace lily that doesn’t have the sufficient growing conditions in its new pot. Fix the growing conditions to give the plant the best chances of survival.
Peace Lily Flowers Dying Before Opening
A spent flower on a peace lily will not re-flower in exactly the same spot. Spent flowers need to be cut from the base of the plant.
If you don’t do that, the stem turns yellow. When removing spent buds, use a sharp pair of pruners. Don’t pull or twist as that will damage the leaves of the plant.
When they get damaged, it’s likely that any future flowers won’t bloom as the stems they’re grown on are damaged. It’s for that reason spent flowers should always be removed by pruning from the base of the plant. You want entire new growth for the next bloom.
The flowers on peace lily’s should last at least ten days. Depending on the conditions the plant is grown in, flowers can be in bloom for 30-days, occasionally longer.
In any case, when the flowers open, they should be in bloom for 10-days to 30-days then they’ll turn brown and die. That’s natural and part of the peace lily lifecycle.
What is not natural is for the buds to appear, turn brown and then die before they open. When that happens, it’s a sign of the plant being stressed.
In most cases, it’s water stress or light stress. Peace lily’s should only be watered when required and for lighting, dappled light only so no direct sunlight.
Over and under-watering will cause bloom problems and cause leaf discoloration. When these plants need to be watered, they begin to wilt.
Only water a peace lily once it shows slight wilting and then do a finger test to see if the soil is dry to touch or moist. Add water when the soil is dry to the touch and only lightly.
If the soil is moist, then mist the leaves and that should perk up a wilting peace lily until it’s time to water the soil.
The other type of plant stress is the one mentioned earlier about improper pruning, such as pulling off a spent flowerhead rather than snipping it from the base of the plant.
If you have pulled the flowerhead off, it is likely new flowers don’t have enough nutrients reaching them because the stems are damaged. If that’s the case, trim the stem from the base and wait to see what the new growth is like.
If you have the watering frequency correct, are growing at room temperature and haven’t damaged the leaves by not using pruners, the other thing to check is for plant pests as peace lilies are susceptible to a number of pests.
Namely, aphids, thrips, mealybugs, and spider mites. Any of these rob the plant from the nutrients needed for flowers to bloom.
When your plant can produce buds that flower but die before opening, and you’ve followed the recommended peace lily care, inspect the plant for pests as there’s likely something preventing the nutrients from reaching the buds.
Peace Lily Dying in the Winter
When peace lily plants are grown outdoors, regardless of how much insulation you give them before the winter, it’s likely they will die back, but there’s never a guarantee they’ll recover from even light winter frosts.
A study done by the University of Florida showed that frost injury on a peace lily will be evident in as little as 24-hours at temperatures of 38oF.
For maximum protection from colder climates, peace lily plants are best brought indoors where temperatures can be controlled. The ideal temperatures to over-winter a peace lily are between 68oF and 85oF.
Plant placement is also crucial to consider because if you place them on a window ledge so they can get some dappled sunlight, morning frost and condensations can lower the temperatures, and for the leaves touching the glass, it can cause frostbite on the leaves (brown leaf tips).
Any frost damage to any part of a peace lily can damage it. Damage from colder climates will be seen on the leaf tips first, initially turning brown then dying.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.