Why do Peace Lily Leaves Turning Brown?

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A graceful plant that oozes elegance, the peace lily is low-maintenance and a safe choice for any plant hobbyist.

Despite its easy-going nature, there are several things that can undermine your peace lily plant care efforts. When your peace lily is unhappy with its environment, it will display symptoms of disease.

The most common symptoms of care deficiencies in peace lilies is leaves turning brown. Why does it happen and what can you do about it?

Below I discuss the most common causes of peace lily leaves becoming brown and offer solutions to prevent this from happening in the future.

Overwatering

While you may associate browning leaves with a plant drying out, turns out overwatering can have the same effect.

I water my peace lily whenever I notice the leaves sagging a bit. Peace lilies don’t enjoy their soil to entirely dry out, but they also don’t like waterlogged soil.

If you’re overwatering, you’re giving way to fungal diseases to thrive, which cause rotting at the roots. Once nutrient delivery from the roots is cut off, the plant will start to wither away, its leaves turn brown, and eventually fall off.

Therefore, don’t underwater your peace lily, but also refrain from watering too often. Try to experiment with finding a watering ‘sweet spot’ that works best for your peace lily.

Too Much Fertilizer

Even if you’re using a high-quality, balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer, if you’re fertilizing your peace lily too often, you can cause fertilizer burn, which will often cause the plant’s leaves to turn brown.

Fertilize your peace lily sparingly, not more often than every 6 weeks. To stay on the safe side, I fertilize only once every few months, and even then only with a highly diluted fertilizer.

Mineral build-up can occur not only because of excess fertilizer but also because of excess minerals in your tap water.

To solve fertilizer issues, you should periodically flush the soil to wash away fertilizer build-up. If tap water is the problem, you can switch to watering your peace lily with bottled water, or better yet, rain water.

Unless your peace lily is not developing well or not blooming, I’d hold off on regular fertilizing, and maybe fertilize only once or twice a year.

Excess Sunlight

Peace lilies enjoy bright light and can even tolerate low light conditions. They should not be exposed to direct sunlight, especially not direct afternoon sunlight. Too much sun will cause the leaves to scorch, turning them brown.

Bright indirect light works best for peace lilies, so don’t keep them close to a window that gets too much direct sunlight (like a south facing window).

Pests

Pest problems aren’t as common with peace lilies, but there are a few pests that can feed on the sap of your peace lilies can cause browning leaves.

The pests that can take up residence on your peace lily include aphids, mealybugs, spider mites. Washing the leaves with a damp cloth can help with a small infestation problem.

In more severe cases, you’ll need to resort to using insecticidal soap.

How Often to Water Peace Lily?

It’s not easy to quantify how much water a peace lily needs, nor is it easy to create a fail-safe watering schedule. What you can do instead is watch out for signs that your peace lily needs water.

A good rule to follow is to check if the leaves are wilting. If they are, it’s time to water your peace lily. Remember that your peace lily also enjoys high humidity, so you may also need to increase humidity levels around the plant. Using a tray of pebbles with water or using a humidifier will help.

When watering your peace lily, do it thoroughly, but let the water drain. If water pools in the saucer, make sure to empty the saucer.

I water my peace lily about 2 times a week. In winter I water it less often, about once a week.

You can also check the soil when watering your peace lily, keeping in mind that it doesn’t like excessively moist soil, but it also shouldn’t be left to dry out completely.

How to Fertilize Peace Lily?

If your peace lily is planted in nutritious soil, you may not even need to fertilize it at all. If you suspect your plant needs a little boost, make sure to use a balanced, water soluble houseplant fertilizer.

Don’t use it as is, dilute it into a weak solution (one-half or one-quarter strength) and fertilize every 6 weeks to every couple of months starting late winter.

Don’t apply fertilizer to dry soil, instead apply fertilizer after you’ve watered the soil. Otherwise you risk burning the roots with fertilizer.

Fertilizing is beneficial during the growth phase and to encourage blooming, but it’s easy to overdo it. If the leaves of your peace lily are turning brown or brown spots appear, it means you need to cut down on or eliminate fertilizer use.

Similarly, if the blooms are green around the gills, you’re over-fertilizing.

What to do With Brown Leaves?

Brown peace lily leaves can be removed. Any tools that you use for pruning should be cleaned with rubbing alcohol to stop spreading diseases to other parts of the plant.

Brown or dead leaves can be removed by cutting the stalks at the base of the plant, as closely as possible to the soil.

You can cut off brown leaf tips as well just below the brown area. Leaf tips will not grow back, but new, healthy stalks will grow from the plant base.

Wrapping Up

The causes behind browning peace lily leaves can be corrected if you revisit the basics of peace lily plant care. This is a houseplant that doesn’t require intensive ongoing care.

Overwatering, lack of humidity, fertilizing issues, pest problems, exposure to excess sunlight can all cause brown leaf tips or browning leaves.

Brown leaves can be removed, but to encourage further healthy growth, you’re going to need to re-establish a healthy plant care environment.

Updated: August 31, 2020

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