Helping a Sick Peace Lily


TheGardenLady received this question about a Peace Lily from Janet.

I just moved my Peace Lilly to a room with better light to discover why my leaves were turning brown on the tips then turning black. What I discovered were little white worm-looking bugs crawling in the soil. I have not found any help on the Internet and am praying for any help you can give me. Please any help will be greatly appreciated.

Not seeing the white worms in your Peace Lily plant soil it is impossible to be 100% sure of the pest you are describing. That being said, hopefully we can still save your plant if it is not too sick. I hope that I can answer your prayers, but sometimes plants cannot be ressurected.

Peace lilies are strong hardy plants, but like every living thing, it does have pests that attack it. Here is a professional website that talks about diseases and pests that harm Peace Lilies.

Sometimes people buy plants that are infested with some pest but do not see it when they bring the plant home and the pest multiplies. Sometimes a healthy plant gets insects or diseases or pests from a nearby plant.

Whatever happened to your plant we will try to help it.

First be sure that the reason your plant is having the problem is not from over-watering. If it is, you could just try letting it dry out more. Peace Lilies like moisture but cannot be in soggy soil yet cannot live in dried out soil.

If you are convinced it is the insects that you are seeing that are causing the damage, try to repot the plant to get rid of all the old infested soil. Get your potting gloves. Cut off all the dead, brown or diseased leaves on the plant but leave all of the healthy parts of leaf and healthy leaves on the plant. Now gently remove the plant from its pot. Turning the pot sideways over some newspapers while holding the plant and tapping on the pot can help gently remove the plant from the pot. Get rid of all that old soil. When repotting your Peace Lily you must be VERY gentle with its roots but if any of the roots look black and smell rotten you can cut them off. After you have gently removed the plant from the soil- no harsh pulling or tugging- put the plant, root down, into a bucket filled with room temperature or tepid water for 15 or 20 minutes. Any white worms remaining in the root area should float to the top of the water and the soil around the root should wash away. If you see any “white worms” floating in the water, gently remove the plant and put it into a second bucket filled with clean room temperature or tepid water for another few minutes to be sure no more insects are in the plant. When you don’t see any more insects, remove the plant gently to pot up.

You should have prepared the potting soil for your Peace Lily by mixing good houseplant soil with a handful or two of ‘Perlite”. Blend the soil and perlite together. Your local hardware/garden store should sell both items.

Have the pot you will be using ready to put the plant in after you remove the Peace Lily from the bucket of water. The pot should have good drainage holes and should be no more than an inch larger than the roots of your plant.

Fill about one inch of the soil you just mixed into the bottom of the pot. Put your plant in on top of that inch of new soil and fill the pot with the new soil, being sure there is soil around the sides of the plant.

Water this soil well to settle the soil around the root of the newly repoted plant. Any water that drains into the saucer under the pot after watering should be poured down the drain.

Now don’t water again for about a week. Before watering again test the soil by sticking your finger in the soil and when the top inch feels like it is getting dry but is not completely dry, this is the time to water the Peace Lily again. You water the plant ONLY when you feel that the soil is almost dry- overwatering is the biggest killer of Peace Lilies.

I wouldn’t use any pesticides or anything else which could kill the plant. And wait about a year if you want to fertilize the plant. Keep the plant in bright but indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight will burn the leaves.

If you want to fertilize the plant a year from now fertilize it at half the strength that the box instruction recommends and do it once a week or once a month. The Peace Lily really does not need or want much fertilizer.

Keep close watch on the plant to be sure that you got rid of all the insects. You may have to repot the plant again if you did not get rid of all the insects. Gentle is the guideline. If the room where the plant is kept is dry, you can get a mister and mist the leaves with tepid water.

Good luck and let theGardenLady readers know if you have success.

One Reply to “Helping a Sick Peace Lily”

  1. I have a once beautiful peace lilly . All of the sudden all the leaves and blooms are hanging over the sides. I thought it was too cold so sat by heat vent. I had it in an East window- so not a lot of bright sun. It was very moist. It has been this way for 8 days now and I am just sick. What can I do to help it?

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