How to Revive a Dying Peace Lily


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Often when the foliage of a Peace Lily begins to droop, many assume that the plant is dying and without hope of revival. But sometimes the appearance of wilting is merely your plant communicating with you that there is a problem.

More often than not, your peace lily can be revived. So, before losing hope and tossing your plant, check out these symptoms, causes, and how to intervene to save your plant and return it to its former beauty.

How to Revive a Dying Peace Lily Overview

Peace lily foliage that is wilting can signify a variety of underlying problems that your plant is dealing with. The appearance of drooping peace lily leaves can lead one to think that the plant is dying and on its last leg, so to speak.

To revive a dying peace lily, you need to: 

  1. Identify the cause for drooping leaves 
  2. Fix the issues
  3. Replant the peace lily in fresh soil

If you can identify the cause and intervene with solutions, you can revive your plant. The once drooping leaves will return to their beautiful form in no time at all.

Common causes for drooping foliage and the appearance of dying include:

  • Overwatering
  • Underwatering
  • Water quality and chemicals
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • A rootbound plant
  • Compacted Soil or toxicity
  • Incorrect lighting
  • Diseases
  • Pest infestations
  • Incorrect temperatures
  • Low humidity

So, as you can imagine, there are multiple reasons that your entire plant appears to be dying and many of these conditions are reversible. Let’s consider what we can do to revive a dying peace lily plant. 

Peace Lily Leaves Turning Brown and Black

Dying Leaves or Flowers Are Not Always a Sign of the Plant Dying

The first thing that comes to mind when you see wilting or dying leaves is that your plant may need water, but dying leaves are not always indicative of a need for water.

There may be soil-borne diseases that can affect roots and stems. Soil beds may not retain moisture or have sufficient nutrients. It’s necessary to interpret the signals that your plant is sending to understand precisely what it needs.

Another consideration is that a leaf or flower may be dying because it has reached the end of its natural life cycle, and this is not a sign of plant distress.

Below we discuss the possible individual causes of a dying peace lily and how to intervene to save your plant and revive it.

How to Revive a Peace Lily Dying from Different Causes

It’s important to remember that Peace Lilies are tropical plants that call the rainforest floors their home. In their natural habitat, the soil is well-draining, and temperatures are warm with high humidity. Light exposure is in the form of dappled sunlight under a canopy of trees.

Often, when a peace lily is dying, it is because the natural conditions of the plant are not adequately reproduced. This means that one or more environmental circumstances are in conflict with the plant’s needs for survival.

If the leaves or white flowers of your peace lily are wilting, turning black, brown, or yellow, consider each one of the following plant conditions to determine if it is the cause and how to revive your dying peace lily before it’s too late.

1. Soil Toxicity

Overfeeding your peace lily is one of the principal causes of soil toxicity. Peace lilies do not require much fertilization as they are not heavy feeders.

Overfeeding will lead to a residue of salt build-up that poisons the soil and inhibits roots from obtaining essential nutrients. Your peace lily leaves may begin with brown leaf tips that then turn yellow and begin dying.

Flush out the soil 3 to 4 times under a tap and allow your plant to drain completely. If your tap water is mineral or chemical-heavy, flush with distilled water or collected rainwater.

If you do wish to fertilize your plant, limit feeding to the growing season using a 20-20-20 fertilizer that is water-soluble and diluted to half strength.

Peace Lily Leaves Turning Brown with Brown Tips

2. Nutritional Deficiency

Though not a heavy feeder, these plants do require basic nutrition. Missing nutrients in the soil bed can contribute to the discoloration and wilting of foliage.

That may signal a lack of nitrogen. A lack of magnesium and iron will also give your plant an unhealthy appearance.

The use of quality organic potting soil should guarantee nutrition needs. To be extra cautious, you can use a water-based fertilizer monthly during the growing season that is diluted to half-strength. Overfertilizing can damage your peace lily and contribute to soil toxicity.

3. Rootbound Conditions

Your peace lily should be cultivated in a container that is twice the size of the plant’s rootball

Roots that need space will gradually move through the soil bed and begin to circle the inside of the pot if the pot size is too small.

If there is no more space available, they may begin to emerge from drainage holes or the soil surface. This indicates that the root system has outgrown its current container.

The soil will probably be compacted or degraded to the point where the roots move out of the holes in search of water and nutrients. They will also have difficulty receiving adequate oxygen.

The roots can also appear on the soil’s surface. When they grow upward, they are again searching for water and nutrients. Exposed roots are in danger. In either case, your peace lily needs to be repotted as soon as possible.

4. Water Quality Issues

Peace lilies rarely require water more than once a week. Preferably, they should be soaked under a faucet or hose and then left until all the excess water runs out of the drainage holes. This will guarantee that your peace lily’s root system is not experiencing extremes in moisture.

Even though it’s a hardy and resilient plant, your peace lily can still suffer from water quality. If your municipal tap water is hard with a high mineral content, it can cause leaves to droop and discolor.

Tap water also contains many chemicals and contaminants. Fluoride and chloride are often present.

If city water is heavily chlorinated, you can leave the water out overnight, so that chlorine gas escapes. This will help to avoid burning the plant’s roots. You can also add a few drops of aquarium de-chlorinator to the water before watering your plant.

These chemicals negatively affect the plant’s absorption of essential nutrients from the soil bed. Your plant will absorb toxic fluoride and chloride instead of life-saving nutrients.

If that happens, you’ll start to see brown, black, or yellow leaves and wilting. Your plant will appear to be dying.

Improve the water quality by using distilled water, filtered water, or collected rainwater.

5. Overwatering

Overwatering is one of the most common reasons that peace lilies can die. Perhaps the plant has been given too much water, or the pot containing the plant has insufficient drainage.

If the plant has been overwatered, the root system will suffocate because roots sit in water and do not receive adequate air flow and oxygen. The plant is drowning and root rot will develop.

To revive the sick plant, you will need to repot it. Remove it from the wet soil. Prune away the damaged roots. The remaining healthy roots need to dry a bit.  Then place the plant in fresh, dry soil.

Make sure the pot has enough drainage holes. Generally, a weekly watering will be sufficient, but if you see the soil is dry, go ahead and water.

You may need to water twice a week in warmer weather when plants absorb water quicker. The top half of the soil bed should be dry before watering.

6. Underwatering

It’s only natural that you forget to water your peace lily sometimes, or maybe you’ve been away. Your plant will appear to be dying due to a lack of water.

A peace lily will let you know it’s thirsty with droopy leaves. By watering when the foliage is wilting, this plant will spring back to life quickly.

Occasionally missing waterings will not kill the plant, but this is not good for the overall health of your peace lily. If the plant goes without water repeatedly or for long periods, this will damage and weaken the plant.

Wilting and/or yellowing leaves are usually an indication of this, giving the plant the appearance of dying.

Soak your plant, allowing the water to drain completely through the pot’s drainage holes before returning it to its normal location.

Peace Lily Leaves Turning Yellow

7. Low Temperatures or Drafts

The tropical peace lily is not cold-hardy and likes a temperature that measures between 65° and 85° Fahrenheit.

It will not survive the cold. If temperatures drop below 45°F, the plant will suffer damage because the lower temperatures play havoc with the plant’s metabolism, and the roots will not absorb water.

Move your peace lily to a warmer location. Your plant may be suffering cold shock. It will need a few days to recover and acclimate.

Also, place your plant far from cold drafts from windows, doors, hallways, air conditioning, and heating units and vents.

8. Improper Lighting

Peace lilies are popular houseplants because they adapt exceptionally well to low and medium-light conditions. As tropical plants, they naturally live on the rainforest floor, so they thrive in partial shade.

They prefer bright indirect light to aid in photosynthesis, which is necessary for a healthy plant.

When positioned in a dark location, leaves will discolor and wilt. Dim lighting will allow the plant to continue to be a lush shade of green, but it will not produce blooms.

Too much direct sunlight will discolor and wilt leaves, and scorch leaves. Position your plant in a place with bright indirect sunlight or with partial shade.

9. Propagation and Relocation Issues

Peace lilies are not finicky about relocation, but like any plant, will need some time to acclimate to new surroundings or a new position.

When new locations are a drastic change, your plant may exhibit signs of distress. Moving does not usually cause permanent damage to a plant if basic environmental conditions are met.

If your plant appears to be dying or doing poorly, be patient, allowing it some time to adapt to its new surroundings. Do not introduce other changes and watch for new growth, which will indicate that your plant is adjusting just fine.

10. Diseases

The most common of Spathiphyllum diseases is Cylindrocladium root rot which occurs during the warmer months of the year.

To revive a peace lily with root rot, you will need to remove the plant from its soil bed. Prune and remove any damaged roots. Spray the root ball with fungicide and then replant your peace lily in fresh soil.

If you plan on reusing the original container, you also need to sterilize your pot. Kill off any potential diseases that could continue to contaminate the plant. 

Most diseases connected with a peace lily are fungal in nature, so this will be the best treatment for any fungal infection.

11. Pests

Pest Infestation of Mealybugs

Mealybugs are the most common plant pest to invade a peace lily. They have the appearance of white, cottony deposits on stems, leaves, or the soil surface.

These pests are sapsuckers. They attack the plant and suck the life out of it, literally. Their presence also reduces the flow of moisture and nutrients throughout the plant. This will lead to discolored leaves and wilting.

Mealybugs can be manually removed or with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol. You can also use sharp sprays of water on the plant to remove these bugs.  Afterward, the plant can be treated with an organic insecticidal soap or with neem oil.

Aphids also are attracted to these indoor plants. They too can be treated with insecticidal soap and then removed from the plant. 

If your peace lily is too dry, it will be susceptible to spider mites. Look for webbing, especially on the underside of leaves.

When the foliage shows wilting or discoloration, there is probably a significant infestation. Keep the soil bed moist and treat with an organic insecticidal soap or with neem oil.

12. Other Stress Factors

Low humidity is stressful for a tropical rainforest plant. The peace lily loves high humidity. Low humidity can cause wilting and discoloration of foliage. Environmental humidity should measure 50% or above. This can cause your plant to appear as if it is dying.

A humidifier for houseplants is ideal but misting your plant several times weekly or grouping several plants to raise humidity will help. Another option is to create a pebble tray and place your plant on top of it.

Tips to Prevent a Peace Lily from Dying

Keep your peace lily healthy by following these general tips:

  • Find your plant a location that provides indirect bright sunlight. The plant will also adapt to low and medium-light environments. Flowers on peace lily plants will need plenty of light. 
  • Feed your peace lily once a month during the growing season with a liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength. Do not fertilize outside of the growing season.
  • Water weekly preferably by soaking your plant and draining it. You may increase it to twice a week during warmer weather.
  • Keep your peace lily in a comfortably warm space with a humidity level above 50%.
  • Examine your plant regularly for pest infestations or infections and treat your plant promptly.
  • Remove discolored leaves from the plant by cutting at the base of the stem.

Extra Care and Maintenance Tips:

  • Always sterilize your tools with rubbing alcohol to prevent disease and pest spread.
  • When removing dead foliage or blooms, snip at the base of the plant.
  • Do not apply fertilizer if your plant is ill.
  • Make sure the location of your plant benefits from good air circulation but without drafts.
  • Be patient.

Revive a Peace Lily Dying Final Thoughts

If your peace lily is languishing, don’t give up on it. Check through our list of possible causes and make any necessary adjustments. Then be patient. Like any ill or distressed living thing, your plant needs time to heal.

To learn more about the peace lily, check out these articles: