Help! My Peace Lily Leaves are Dying Back

“I have some large peace lilies that the leaves sprout up like crazy but then start to turn completely brown, they are been doing this for over a year. What is causing this?” Question from Mary of Huntington, West Virginia
Answer: Several problems may be at play regarding your peace lily (Spathiphyllum spp.). Over watering, under watering, planting too deep, and fungal diseases can all cause leaf decline in newly emerging foliage or existing foliage. So, let’s start with what these plants need to grow well.

1. Bright, filtered sunlight or partial shade (never direct sunlight);

2. Lightly moist, well-drained soil (never wet soil);

3. Soil that is allowed to dry between watering;

4. High humidity;

5. Warmth (temperature between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (18-26 degrees Centigrade).

Here are factors that can cause decline and eventual plant death:

1. Over watering;

2. Deeply planted plants;

3. The fungal diseases Cylindrocladium spathiphylli and Phytophthora parasitica, which both cause foliar decline and root rot disease (both are encouraged by over watering and deep planting).

4. Under watering

I recommend starting fresh and repotting your plant. Start by removing your peace lily from its current pot and discard the old planting mix. Next, remove any dead or dying leaf or root tissue. Clean the planting pot in hot, soapy water and refill it with fresh potting mix (Black Gold All Purpose Potting Mix or Black Gold Natural & Organic Potting Mix are great choices). When replanting, make sure your peace lily’s upper roots are close to the surface. Then water it well and place it in a location with bright, indirect light. Allow the soil to dry quite well between watering.

I hope these recommendations help!

Happy indoor gardening,


Jessie Keith


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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