Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

The ever popular Peace Lily is one of the most stoic and reliable house plants going around. It grows happily in lower light conditions, and with it’s lush dark green leaves and striking stemmed white flowers, it’s also one of the more attractive plants you can add to your indoor collection.

Despite being relatively hard to kill, the Peace Lily is not easily mastered. In order to achieve a plant which is full, healthy and flowers regularly, you’ll neeed a bit of know how.

How to grow and care for a Peace Lily Plant

 

Facts

The ever popular peace lily derives from the family Araceae, and is a evergreen herbaceous perennial plant. Popular in homes, offices – and the bedrooms of most 20 something year old females – the peace lily is a versatile and attractive house plant.

It typically features dark green leaves which can grow up to 60cm long and 20cm broad, normally in a compact arrangement. It is known for producing a flower atop a long stem, and surrounded by a large and usually white structure known as a spathe (often confused for the flower).

The peace lilly is a hardy plant, and can grow in a variety of climates, making it a popular choice for inside the home – particularly since it grows best in shade. What a gem.

It is also notable for being a top performer in the NASA clean air study – more on that here

How much light does a Peace Lily need?

Luckily, our peaceful friend is quite forgiving and tolerates a wide range of light conditions, from relatively low levels of light all the way through to bright indirect light all day.

I’ve moved my peace lily around the house a few times, and the best results for me have come in rooms with predominant indirect morning sun.

That said, they’ll do fine in a room that’s bright all day, as well as room with lower light levels. Just be aware of the following:

  1. In a darker position, they are less likely to flower, and will grow more  slowly. They’ll also need less water.
  2. Conversely, in a brighter room, they’ll be more likely to flower, will grow faster and require more water.
  3. Important note: You should avoid placing your plant where it gets direct sunlight, and potentially even where it gets indirect strong afternoon sunlight, as this can lead to burning of the leaves.

Potting your Peace Lily

Peace lily plant, how to grow a peace lily

When potting your Peace Lily, use a mix for premium indoor mix with good drainage properties. A little coir mixed in never goes astray either.

Steps for potting: 

  1. Use a pot that’s 20-30cm in
    width, and with drainage holes. If using a decorative pot without drain holes, keep your plant in a simple plastic pot with drainage and place this pot within the larger decorative pot. 
  2. Fill with your a premium potting mix of your choice.
  3. If your plant is root bound, gently massage the roots open a little before planting – but wash your hands first. 
  4. Position, backfill with potting mix – and be careful not to over compress, otherwise your drainage will suffer
  5. Water in thoroughly

I personally repot every 18 months – 2 years, and this seems to work well. If you find your plant was root bound, go up a size in pot. If there was still some loose dirt, then you can stick with your current size.

Watering your Peace Lily

How much water does a Peace lily need? It depends.

Generally, you want to err on the side of underwatering. Overwatering is probably the fastest way to ruin your plant, so got easy with the H20. 

As a rule of thumb, water when the top 2cm
of soil feels dry. Obviously the time of year and position of your plant will influence this interval, so make sure to always check  the top layer of soil before you water.

Hot tip:

As long as you’re keeping an eye out, the first sign of leaf droop is the ideal time to water – you can guarantee you won’t be
overwatering this way. Just don’t leave it all droopy for a week.

The best fertiliser for the Peace Lily, and how often to feed

The best fertiliser for a Peace Lily is a balanced liquid feed. Generally, these plants aren’t veracious eaters and don’t need feeding all that often – and you can definitely over do it if you’re a bit of a keen bean. Sometimes this plant just wants to be left in peace (Ha). 

For fertilising, follow these steps;

  1. Use a balanced liquid feed. Be sure to read the instructions to see if it needs diluting
  2. Feed once at the beginning of spring
  3. Feed 2-3 times during the summer 
  4. Don’t feed during autumn and winter
  5. Do not feed more than 4 times a year. 

Advanced care tips for your Peace Lily

With the basics now covered, let’s look at some other important techniques needed to care for your Peace Lily. 

Pruning a Peace Lily

Not much effort is required in the way of pruning your Peace Lily. Leaves will naturally yellow and brown with age (though excessive yellowing or browning can be due to other issues – see below).

Simply remove these leaves by cutting close to the base of the leaf with clean, sharp scissors.

This applies also to the flowers and their stalks. The white spathe (which some think is the flower, but which is actually a modified leaf) that surrounds the little flowers on the end of the stalk will eventually die off, followed soon by the stem. It won’t produce further flowers.

Simply cut at the base – as with dying leaves – and make room for new flowers to grow.

How to make a Peace Lily flower

Getting your Peace Lilly to blood or rebloom can be a fickle beast, no matter how many clever online guides you read.

Here are the things you need to consider.

  1. Peace Lily’s bloom irregularly,
    and though there appears to be some seasonality to this, it isn’t reliable.
  2. Not all species are created equal with respect to flowering. Some species just don’t bloom as much as others –
    though all species should flower at least once or twice a year.
  3. The garden stores and nurseries apply a special hormone called gibberellic acid to induce flowering – but this
    chemical is potentially dangerous to the plant if used incorrectly and is best left to the horticulturalists.

Aside from the above, what are the common reasons your Peace Lily isn’t flowering? Follow the below checklist. 

  1. Insufficient light. This is by far the most common reason. If you’re able, as a first step try to move your
    plant to somewhere with greater light; even if it’s on the porch for a few weeks.
  2. Unhealthy plant. Are you
    following all the steps listed in this guide? If not, your plant simply may be
    unhealthy. If it’s not a vigorous and healthy plant, it wont flower. 
  3. Soil imbalance. Over time your plant utilises the minerals and nutrients in your soil base. Even if you’re using a fertiliser,  this doesn’t necessarily
    mean you’re restoring the balance of nutrients required for blooming: try switching up your fertiliser. Using one designed for flowering plants may be of benefit.
  4. Nothing – sometimes despite doing everything right, your plant just won’t flower. If this is a deal breaker, consider talking to your local garden centre about replacing with a
    species that’s a known frequent bloomer. Or give into despair. 

Troubleshooting

Why do my Peace Lily leaves have brown tips?

There can be a few reasons your Peace Lily has leaf browning at the tip. Following these troubleshooting steps.

  1. Water with consistency – Erratic watering can cause brown tips. Be consistent.
  2. Mineral imbalance – watering with tap water may cause a build up or calcium and other minerals which may cause the tips of your leaves to burn. Try watering with filtered water or bottled water.
  3. Contact with walls – leaf tips which lay against walls may brown. Give it some breathing space.
  4. Fertilising too frequently – fertilise a maximum of 4 times a year.
  5. Pests – Spider mites and mealybugs can get all up in your business. If you suspect pests are the cause, then give
    the plant a good old fashioned wipe down with soapy water and rinse.
  6. Direct sunlight – this should be an obvious one.

Why has my Peace Lily stopped growing?

If your Peace Lily is growing slowly, or has stopped growing, troubleshoot with these steps:

  1. Is your plant approaching 60cm tall? If so, then it may be nearing its growth potential. This is normal.
  2. Have you applied all the steps in this guide? If not, fix these issues.
  3. Can you read a book in the room your Peace Lily is located? If not, it may not have sufficient light for optimal growth. This is only an issue if you care about the size of the plant.
  4. Do you fertilise? If not, try fertilising 3-4 times a year with a balanced liquid fertiliser.
  5. When was the last time you repotted? If greater than a year ago, try a repot with quality potting mix.

 

Are Peace Lily plants safe for cats and dogs?

Peace Lily leaves can contain quite a bit of calcium oxalate crystals which can cause reactions in some pets and people. Generally the reactions are along the lines of skin irritation, or mouth tingling / burning. Some pets may vomit if they ingest this plant. 

That said, these reactions tend to be mild. Therefore I’d say exercise caution – but do not neccessarily rule this plant out if you have pets or children. 

 

And there you have it my friends. A complete guide to growing a rocking Peace Lilly*.

*Household peace is not guaranteed.

Much love
Miss Pot Plant xoxo

Chinese Money Plant (Pilea peperomioides)

Chinese Money Plant (Pilea peperomioides)

How to grow the Chinese Money Plant

So you want to grow the rare and lucky Chinese money plant (aka UFO plant, missionary plant). However, you also know if you kill this lucky green ball of goodness you’ll be cursed for the rest of your life. Fear not my little plant entrepreneur – we’ve written a comprehensive guide to help you reap your lucky reward for years to come.

 

The Chinese money plant is a semi succulent evergreen perennial from the mountainous Yunnan region in China. It’s a great houseplant which thrives in a combination of aerated soil, bright indirect light, regular but infrequent watering and periodic fertilisation. 

 Below, like usual – we get into the nitty gritty of growing your own luscious Chinese money success story. 

The nerdy stuff

Pilea peperomioides – most commonly known as the ‘Chinese money plant’ – is a flowering species from the nettle family (Urticaceae). It hails from a mountainous region of China where it grows naturally in the forest like conditions. For the history buffs, it was first brought to Europe (and then beyond) by a Norwegian missionary with a bit of a green finger – though for whatever reason, is still hard to come by at your average nursery. Treated with love, this lucky girl will grow up to 30cm in every direction.

It is a semi succulent evergreen perennial, and is recognisable with its saucer shaped sexy green leaves (which is why some people call it the UFO plant – what imaginations). The leaves are hairless and tend to waxy, and can have a diameter of up to 15cm. Holy lordy. They grow on fine long stems (petioles), which emerge from a central stem axis which is usually green/brown. 

In household conditions, they’ll often spread via rhizomes underneath the surface of the soil – you’ll see little babies popping out of the soil, but they are much like modern millennials; you’ll find them still attached to their home and mother. They can also produce little (rather unimpressive) flowers.

Planting

With a little luck (ha) you’ll find yourself a nice little money plant to take home to a partner who’ll pretend to be impressed. How now to keep your new baby alive? Step one is not screwing up the planting, Janice.

Like most house plants, the money maker needs aerated quality soil from which to forge its new green kingdom. It’s not super fussy, but I’d use a premium potting mix with about 10% perlite mixed in. For the newbies among us, perlite is puffed volcanic rock which will helps keep plenty of air in the soil, and also helps the plant survive the overactive trigger finger waterers out there. Don’t overpack the soil; if the plant has some height already, you may want to use a wee little sticky to help it stay straight.

Use a pot with good drainage, as always – roots in water is not your friend here.

Walla. You’re planted and on your way.

Positioning / sunlight  

The Chinese money plant is often touted as a great low light plant. Nonsense. She’ll survive perhaps, like the bank account of a student on Centrelink after a big weekend – just.  

Medium to bright indirect sunlight works best. No direct light unless you want to burn her at the stake. North, east and western facing windows are good choices – west can be a little harsh so move her a foot or two away (south, west and east for those north of the equator folk).

Another key tip here: rotate or get bendy. The stem axis will move toward the lord of light, and unless you want a banana plant, you need to rotate every 2-3 days a quarter turn.

Don’t be afraid to try a new position if things aren’t progressing well – but aim for a well-lit indirect light where possible.

Watering

If you’ve read a few of our articles you’ll know that watering is where most people drop the ball. They either water too little because they are forgetful / lazy / enjoy watching things die, or water too often because they can’t help themselves. Back off a little Janice.

90% dry. That’s the ticket here. This plant hails from a dryish mountain region so she needs water only when almost parched. Once a week is a starting guide, but you’ll need to be more frequent in bright light conditions, less do in dark light. A good way to work your schedule out is to water thoroughly, and wait until you notice the first sign of leaf droop; one day short of this is a good schedule to start with, but you’ll still need to keep an eye on the soil dryness / light conditions through the seasons and use some judgement.

We also recommend filtered water if you’re getting odd spots on your leaves. Take the plant out of its decorative pot, water completely through 2-3 times and wait until the dripping is no more, then return home.

Feeding

Use a decent organic indoor fertiliser, preferably liquid. Fertilise once a month during spring through autumn. Put the fertiliser away in winter. Go to 6 weeks if you’re slightly dim inside.

Propagation

You’ve had some success, now auntie Gayle is asking for a money plant too. Classic auntie Gayle. Not to worry, just follow these steps my Chinese money Padawan.

Await the puppies. Yes, the little baby Chinese money plants which sprout from the soil are known as pups. When you see a puppy, do not touch it. Patience. Let it grow about three inches long, then dig down and find where it is suckling its mother still. Cut it off from the nest. No more mooching for this pup.

Now you have your cute puppy plant, you can pot directly into a wee little pot with the same potting mixture described above. Hot tip – add in a little organic biotone starter. It helps add some of that delicious good fungus and bacteria back to the sterile soil you get from the nursery, and baby plants dig that.

Alternatively, use a propagation station to help foster root growth before repotting – particularly if you’re having trouble with the direct plant method. Care for them as you do their parent. Soon enough they’ll be little teenagers and you can kick them out of home to Aunt Gayle’s place.

Summary: TLDR

  1. Plant with premium potting mix with 10% perlite into a well draining pot
  2. Position in indirect medium to bright light
  3. Water when dry – not too often
  4. Fertilise every 4-6 weeks during the warmer months
  5. Harvest little shoots from the soil by cutting at their junction with the mother plant, and repot / place into propagation station
  6. Use filtered water if able

There you have it my friends. The complete guide to growing one of these UFO / Chinese money / missionary bad boys like a boss. Go forth and get lucky

Miss Pot Plant