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A longstanding symbol of hope, tranquility, and prosperity, peace lilies are among the most popular houseplants—not just due to their beauty or the fact that they improve air quality, but also because they’re so easy to care for. Native to the rainforests of Colombia and Venezuela, the tropical evergreen—which features glossy, dark-green leaves and white flowers with sheath-like spathes—is used to receiving spotty sunlight and constant moisture. Its elegant blossoms begin to appear in early summer and continue to bloom throughout the year. (The more light the plant gets, the more flowers it produces.) Most indoor varieties top out at 16 inches, though some outdoor cultivars can grow up to six feet high in warm, humid climates.
But as sweet as peace lilies look, they’re not as innocent as they seem. The beautiful buds are actually poisonous and can cause stomach and respiratory issues if consumed in large quantities. That said, peace lilies should always be kept out of reach of children and pets.
How to Plant Them
Peace lilies should be planted in well-draining, all-purpose soil and repotted every spring. They can also grow in water alone—in which case, the base of the plant should sit above the waterline. This allows the roots to grow into the water while keeping the leaves from being constantly submersed (which can cause them to rot).
Once a peace lily outgrows its pot, you can either transfer it into a slightly larger container or divide it into smaller plants. If you opt to do the latter, be sure to split its leaves evenly between the clusters.
Starting from scratch? Spread peace lily seeds on a thin layer of moss on top of the soil and cover the pot with a piece of Saran Wrap to help lock in the humidity. Use bottom-watering to keep the soil moist. You should start to see sprouts in about 10 days!
How to Get Them to Flower
Fertilize peace lilies every six weeks starting in late winter to encourage spring or summer growth. If your peace lily’s blossoms are feeble-looking or sparse in quantity, it could be due to a lack of phosphorus in your fertilizer. (If that’s the case, switch to one that’s specially formulated to promote flowering.) If the plant’s buds come out green, however, it could indicate that you’re using too much fertilizer. (To prevent salt from building up due to fertilization, flush the pot with water (in the sink or with a garden hose) every six months or so.)
How to Care for Them
Peace lilies thrive in high humidity and indirect sunlight, so it’s wise to park them in a warm, shaded spot. They require constant moisture and should be watered every week or so, but it’s important to check the soil before each time to ensure that you don’t accidentally overwater them. You should also mist their leaves regularly (or you can place them atop a moistened tray of gravel to increase the surrounding humidity). Peace lilies are known for being dramatic, often wilting as soon as they’re thirsty. Once you water them, however, they’re just as quick to perk back up.
Peace lilies grow best in temperatures above 70°F. They can tolerate short periods of dry soil, but can’t survive in cold, dry environments or drafty areas. An east-facing window sill is ideal for peace lilies, since it exposes them to the soft, bright rays of morning light while shielding them from the harsher afternoon sun. As far as houseplants go, they’re quite resilient—but their leaves will start to brown if they’re ignored for too long, so take care not to neglect them completely. Other causes of brown leaves include excessive light, over-fertilization, and low humidity. Yellowing leaves can also be attributed to improper watering.
Beware of critters that can be harmful to peace lilies, including scale bugs and mealybugs. Need to curb an infestation? Wipe down the plant’s leaves with sudsy water or insecticidal soap until any sign of the nuisance is gone. And to combat fungus gnats, try watering your plant a little less, allowing the topsoil to dry out. Doing so should deter the tiny pests from returning!
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