How to Fix a Peace Lily with Brown Leaf Tips


How to fix a peace lily with brown tips

Usually the reason for brown tips on peace lily leaves is because of low humidity. Peace lilies are tropical place adapted to living in high humidity. Dry air indoors, saps the moisture from the leaves and causes the tips to turn brown.

Whilst low humidity is the most common reason for peace lilies developing brown leaf tips, the brown tips are the peace lilies sign of stress that can be for a variety of reasons such as underwatering, sun burn, too much fertilizer and chemicals in tap water.

To save your peace lily with brown tips, recreate the conditions of the peace lily’s native environment by misting the leaves to increase humidity, maintain a daytime temperature range of 68°F and 85 °F, wait until the surface of the soil is dry, before watering thoroughly and trim the brown tips off with a sharp pair of pruners.

Keep reading for why your peace lily (SPATHIPHYLLUM X ‘WALLISII’) leaves have brown tips and how to save the plant…

Peace Lily with Brown Tips

Peace lily with brown tips due to low humidity and underwatering.
Peace lily with brown tips due to low humidity and underwatering.

The reason for peace lilies with brown leaf tips is usually because of low humidity and underwatering. Peace lilies are native to humid tropical forests. If the air indoors is too dry from indoor heating or air conditioning then this saps too much moisture from the leaves, causing the tips to turn brown.

Low humidity can be caused by a variety of factors such as open, doors or draughty areas and it is particularly common in Winter due to indoor heating which dries the air too much for the peace lily to tolerate.

If the soil dries out around the peace lilies roots then this also causes the leaves to droop with brown leaf tips.

Peace lilies need evenly moist, well draining soil. If the peace lily is not watered often enough, or watered too lightly, the leaf tips turn brown.

Peace lilies are native to tropical forests in central and South America, where they grow under the tree canopy, protected from direct sunlight and prefer shade or bright indirect light which is why they adapt well to growing indoors.

However, if the peace lily is placed on a window sill, then the direct light can cause the leaves to scorch and leaf tips to turn brown.

Peace lilies can also be sensitive to hard water and the chemicals in tap water (fluoride and chlorine) which also results in brown tips.

High temperatures are usually not the problem as peace lilies grow in warm tropical forests, and prefer a temperature which is similar to room temperature.

However, if the peace lily is too near to a source of heating indoors or the temperature fluctuates suddenly then the leaf tips can turn brown due to the sudden contrast in conditions.

It is also worth noting that peace lilies prefer the temperature at night to be 10 degrees cooler then the daytime temperature.

In Winter, the temperatures are often higher in the evening then during the day due to indoor heating which is contrary to the peace lilies preferred cycle of temperatures and can cause the leaf tips to to brown as a sign of stress.

Peace lilies are also sensitive to fertilizer and typically only require 2 or 3 applications of fertilizer at half strength during the growing season.

If fertilizer is applied too often or in too high concentration, or during the Winter, the leaf tips turn brown.

Sometimes the peace lily can redirect its energy from maintaining its leaves, towards flowering in the Spring and Summer which can cause the leaves to turn brown.

Save a Peace Lily with Brown Leaf Tips

  • Increase the humidity by misting the leaves regularly. As low humidity is the main cause of brown leaf tips, Mist the leaves creates a humid micro climate which helps to mimic the peace lily’s natural tropical environment. How often you have to mist the leaves depends on how dry the air is indoors in your climate, but mist the peace lily’s leaves daily whilst the tips are turning brown. You can also use a plant humidifier (available online or at garden centers) which can increase the humidity to a precise level and creates a more favorable environment for your peace lily and other indoor tropical plants.
  • Water the peace lily with a generous soak when the surface of the soil feels dry. Watering thoroughly, ensures that the water infiltrates the soil and reached the roots where it is required to alleviate the stress that is causing the leaves to droop and the tips to turn brown.
  • If the soil has dried out completely, place the peace lily in a basin of water for 10 minutes, ensuring the roots ball is submerged. When the soil dries out completely, water can run off the surface and down the side of the pot rather then infiltrate the soil, so a good soak ensures the peace lily gets the water it needs to address the brown leaf tips.
  • Place the peace lily in bright indirect light, out of any direct sunlight. Sunlight can not only turn the leaf tips brown but scorch the entire leaf.
  • Scale back the use of any fertilizer and water the soil thoroughly. Water with a good soak as this dilutes salts that can accumulate with frequent fertilizer applications, that can cause the brown leaf tips. Only apply a general houseplant fertilizer at half strength and wait until the following year before applying more fertilizer.
  • If you are in an area with hard tap water or suspect the fluoride and chlorine could be contributing to the brown leaf tips then use rainwater, bottled water or distilled water to water your peace lily. You can also leaves a bowl of water out overnight which gives the fluoride and chlorine time to evaporate, so that is safe to water your peace lily.
  • Maintain a temperature range of 68°F and 85 °F (20°C to 30°) with 10 degrees cooler at night. Avoid fluctuating temperatures by locating your peace lily the other side of the room from any sources of indoor heating and be mindful of any draughts or air currents from windows or air conditioning.

Should I Cut The Brown Tips Off my Peace Lily Leaves?

Trim the brown tips off peace lilies with a sharp pair of pruners.
Trim the brown tips off peace lilies with a sharp pair of pruners.

To revive the appearance of the peace lily trim the brown leaf tips off with a sharp pair of pruners. Follow the shape of the leaf to create a natural shape. Trimming the brown tips off stimulates new growth to restore the peace lily’s healthy appearance.

The peace lily should retain its healthy green leaves as long as you follow the best practices of care with regular misting of the leaves to increase humidity.

Trim off the peace lily's brown tip at an angle to create a new green leaf tip.
Trim off the peace lily’s brown tip at an angle to create a new green leaf tip.

(Read my article, how often to water peace lilies).

Peace Lily Yellow Leaves with Brown Leaf Tips

The reason for peace lily with brown tips and yellow leaves is usually because the leaves have been in too much direct sunlight. Peace lilies naturally grow under the canopy of a tropical forest, protected from the sun. Too much sunlight scorches the leaves yellow and turns the leaf tips brown.

Peace lily leaves tend to turn yellow with some sun exposure and scorch brown in particularly harsh direct light, with the leaf tips turning brown.

Peace lily leaves are particularly sensitive to any direct sunlight and should be kept in shade or bright light to prevent yellow leaves with brown tips.

Another potential cause of peace lily leaves turning yellow with brown tips is that the soil is low in nutrients.

If the peace lily has been in the same pot for a long time (or the soil is particularly low in nutrients) then the root system can exhaust the soil of nutrients, which causes the peace lily to droop, and for the lower leaves to turn yellow, with brown tips.

The other cause of peace lily leaves turning yellow with brown tips, is because there is too much moisture around the peace lily’s root system.

Peace lilies need well draining soil and do not tolerate boggy, saturated soil as the promotes the conditions for root rot and fungal diseases.

Boggy soil can be caused by overwatering, slow draining compacted soils or pots without drainage holes in the base.

It is also important to empty any saucers and trays underneath your pot, as this can cause excess water to pool around the base of the peace lily and create boggy soil conditions.

How to Save Peace Lilies with Yellow Leaves and Brown Tips

If your peace lily’s leaves have been in direct sunlight, even for a short time, this is the reason the leaves are turning yellow with brown tips, in which case:

  • Move your peace lily to an area of bright indirect light. Keep the peace lily leaves out of any direct sunlight to prevent further yellowing or brown tips.
  • Give the peace lily a good drink and mist the leaves. Direct sunlight can lower the humidity and cause the leaves to droop and cause the plant to be dehydrated. A thorough watering every 7 days during active growth and every 10-14 days during Winter dormancy meets the watering requirements of the peace lily without risking root rot. Mist the leaves every days whilst it is recovering or use a humidifier to create a humid micro-climate that emulates the humid conditions of its native tropical environment.
  • Trim back any brown leaf tips and yellow leaves. The individual leaf tips can be trimmed off without harming the peace lily. Trim the brown tips with two cuts at an angle with a sharp pair of pruners, with a natural a leaf shape rather then just cutting the tip off with an abrupt flat end to the leaf.
  • Wait until you see active growth before pruning back the yellow leaves. The scorched part of the yellow leaves do not necessarily pose an immediate threat to the peace lily and trimming off too many leaves at one time (even if they are partially damaged) can cause the plant unnecessary stress. Once you see your peace lily recovering and new growth emerging, this indicates the plant is much more resilient. At which point cut the entire leaf back to the base of the plant. This helps to stimulate new green growth and improve the appearance of the peace lily.

If the lower leaves are turning yellow, the tips are turning brown, and the peace lily has been in the same pot for a long time (and you haven’t applied any fertilizer) then this is usually because of nutrient deficient in the soil, in which case:

  • Apply a general houseplant fertilizer at half strength, in the Spring and Summer during active growth. It is important to emphasize that peace lilies are more sensitive to fertilizer then most houseplants which is why it is so important to use fertilizer at half strength. The peace lily should begin to show signs of recovery and vitality after applying the fertilizer which should help to alleviate a drooping appearance.
  • Cut back any yellowing leaves and brown tips. Typically if the leaves have turned yellow they do not recover their green appearance, however the application of fertilizer should stimulate lots of new green growth. Once you see the new green leaves emerging, cut away any yellowing leaves back to the base and trim the brown tips with a sharp pair of pruners.

If the peace lily’s potting soil feels damp/boggy at the base (feel the soil at the bottom of the pot through the drainage holes in the base) and the soil at the top of the pot is saturated, rather just evenly moist the overwatering or poor drainage is likely the cause of the peace lily leaves drooping and turning yellow with brown tips. In which case:

  • Scale back the watering, allowing the surface of the soil to dry between bouts of watering. Typically watering every 7 days meets the peace lily’s watering requirements whilst mitigating the risk of root rot.
  • If the potting soil is draining slowly due to compaction then repot the peace lily. Use new potting soil and amend it with grit or perlite to improve the drainage and create a more porous soil structure.
  • Ensure the peace lily is planted in a pot with drainage holes in the base and empty any saucers and trays underneath the pot, regularly. If water cannot drain properly, then excess water pools around the roots of the peace lily which has the same affect as overwatering, turning the leaves yellow droopy, with brown tips.

If the soil is boggy and all the leaves have turned yellow, then the peace lily likely has root rot, at which point it can be too difficult to save the peace lily, even with intervention.

(Read my article, how to revive a dying peace lily).

Key Takeaways:

  • The reason for peace lily’s having brown tips is usually because of low humidity from air conditioning or indoor heating. Peace lilies are adapted to humid tropical forests. Dry air indoors saps moisture from the peace lily’s leaves causing the tips to turn brown.
  • Peace lilies with brown tips can because of overwatering and poor drainage. Peace lilies need to grow well draining, evenly moist soil. If the soil is too boggy from watering too often, the leaf tips turn brown as the first sign of stress.
  • Peace lilies turn yellow with brown tips because of too much direct sunlight. Peace lilies have very sensitive leaves that grow naturally under the shade of a forest canopy. If the peace lily leaves are in full sun, the leaves scorch yellow and the leaf tips turn brown due to sun burn.
  • To fix a peace lily with brown tips, mist the leaves to increase the humidity, place the peace lily in bright indirect light, give the soil a thorough watering and trim off the brown tips with a sharp pair of pruners.

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