How to Revive a Drooping Peace Lily


How to revive a drooping peace lily

One of the most common gripes of indoor gardeners that I encounter is that their peace lily is drooping. I love peace lilies, and I have grown them extensively in my job supplying houseplants to garden centers. This has given me firsthand knowledge of how to keep peace lilies happy and what to do if they begin to droop.

In this article, I share with you everything I have learned from my experience and from speaking to other peace lily experts on pinpointing the problem causing the drooping leaves (and flowers) and how to fix it…

Usually, the reason I see a drooping peace lily is dry soil and low humidity. Peace lilies are tropical plants that need high humidity. Dry air indoors saps moisture from the peace lily’s leaves, causing the leaf tips to turn brown and droop.

Here are the other common reasons I have observed for peace lily leaves drooping:

  1. The soil is to dry around the roots (Peace lilies need evenly moist, well-draining soil, if the soil dries out due to underwatering, the leaves droop.
  2. Low humidity saps moisture from the leaves, causing them to droop and the leaf tips to turn brown due to air currents or indoor heating (peace lilies grow in humid environments and must be misted to increase humidity).
  3. Peace lily leaves droop and turn yellow due to overwatering and poor drainage (peace lilies need well-draining soil. If the soil is too boggy, this promotes the conditions for root rot, which turns the leaves yellow, with a drooping appearance).
  4. Peace lilies can droop and turn yellow after repotting if they are potted into a much larger pot or the soil is too compacted (larger pots contain more soil and therefore hold more moisture, causing the soil to dry out too slowly for the peace lilies’ roots to tolerate, resulting in drooping leaves).
  5. Low-nutrient soil can cause the peace lily leaves to droop, with the lower leaves, in particular, turning yellow (the peace lilies roots can exhaust the soil of nutrients, causing drooping leaves with the lower leaves turning yellow).
  6. Peace lily leaves droop even after watering due to too much moisture around the roots from overwatering or poor drainage (peace lilies need to be in potting soil that is moist yet also well-draining, rather than boggy, which is why the leaves can droop even after watering).
  7. High indoor temperatures that exceed 85°F (30°C) can cause leaves to droop, as can cool temperatures under 60 °F (15°C) (high temperatures from indoor heating dry out the soil too quickly for the roots to draw up the moisture they require, and the heat saps moisture from the leaves. Cool temperatures also stress the peace lily, causing the leaves to droop).
  8. Excess water can pool around the base of the pot due to saucers, trays, and decorative outer pots, which can cause root rot and yellowing, drooping leaves (peace lilies do not tolerate damp soil, which causes the leaves to droop and eventually turn yellow).

I revive drooping peace lilies by recreating the conditions of their native environment by increasing the humidity with regular misting of the leaves and water every 7 days, plant peace lilies in well-draining soil, and maintaining a temperature range of 68°F and 85°F and my drooping leaves usually recover in 3 weeks or so.

Keep reading for all my tips, tricks, and hacks to save your drooping peace lily (Spathiphyllum)…

Why is My Peace Lily Drooping After Repotting?

This has happened to me, and I have definitively identified the cause…

I discovered the reason for drooping leaves after repotting is that the new pot is larger and contains more soil, causing it to dry out more slowly than the peace lily is used to. If the soil remains damp for too long, this causes the peace lilies leaves to droop and turn yellow due to root rot.

Peace lilies can suffer transplant shock after repotting, which causes the leaves to droop.

To understand how to save it, I think it’s better if we understand how peace lilies grow in the wild so that we can recreate these conditions in our homes…

Peace lilies are native to Central and South America, where they grow in well-draining soil that dries slightly between bouts of rainfall.

Therefore, it’s important that the surface of the peace lilies potting soil dries slightly between each bout of watering when indoors.

Larger pots have a greater capacity for soil, and therefore a greater capacity to hold moisture. This means that that the new pot dries out much slower then the peace lily’s previous pot.

The pot may also be a different material, which can affect the rate at which the soil dries.

For example, plastic and glazed ceramic pots are impermeable, which causes them to retain water for longer, thereby increasing the risk of root rot and fungal diseases.

Whereas clay and terracotta pots are porous, which allows the soil to dry more evenly from around the peace lily’s roots. From my experiments, peace lilies always grow better in these pots.

Damp soil can elude oxygen from the soil which prevents root respiration and interferes with the root’s ability to draw up water and nutrients, causing the leaves to droop and turn yellow.

If the potting soil is damp for too long, this can promote the conditions for root rot which usually results in a dying plant.

A common mistake I see is compacting the soil around the peace lily too firmly, as this too can push oxygen out of the soil and cause water to drain much more slowly from around the peace lily’s roots.

Bear in mind that peace lilies need to grow in pots with drainage holes in the base to allow for good drainage. If the new pot does not have a proper drainage hole, then water pools around the roots and the potting mix becomes saturated, causing the leaves to droop and often turn yellow.

How I Saved it…

These are the steps I take to revive it…

  • I only re-pot peace lilies into a pot one size up from its original pot. If the new pot is only slightly larger than the last pot, then the soil should dry at a similar rate, which limits the risk of drooping leaves due to root rot.
  • I re-pot my peace lily in a terracotta or clay pot. As peace lilies are sensitive to overwatering and damp soil, I recommend repotting your peace lily to a terracotta or clay pot (rather than ceramic or plastic pots) as they are porous, which allows the soil to dry out more evenly and creates the peace lilies optimal balance of soil moisture, to alleviate the stress that caused the peace lily’s leaves to droop.
  • Avoid compacting the soil when repotting your peace lily. Peace lilies require porous, well-draining soil, so do not firm the soil around your peace lily after repotting. If you have compacted the soil when repotting, the solution is to simply remove the peace lily from the pot and repot it again without firming it. Adding some perlite to your potting mix can also improve the soil’s structure so that the drainage is more efficient, which helps mitigate the risk of root rot.
  • I adjust how often I water your peace lily after repotting. Increase the time between bouts of watering to ensure that the potting soil is allowed to dry slightly before watering again. Typically, I’ve found it takes a day or so longer for the potting soil to dry after repotting due to the larger size of the pot and the increased amount of soil around the peace lily’s roots. So, I always scale back the watering and wait until the surface of the soil feels dry before watering my peace lily to create the preferred level of soil moisture to prevent drooping.
  • Always repot peace lilies in pots with drainage holes in the base to prevent drooping and yellowing leaves. Good drainage is imperative for peace lilies, so always ensure that the new pot has a drainage hole and empty any saucers, trays, and outer pots of excess water after watering to ensure good drainage.

My drooping peace lily usually revives after the soil has had a chance to dry and the peace lily has adjusted to the new conditions, which typically takes 3 or 4 weeks.

Sometimes, peace lilies droop simply as a reaction to the shock of being transplanted rather than any issues with overwatering or soil moisture, and I have found it perks up after 2 weeks once it has acclimated to its new conditions.

If the peace lily roots have been sat in boggy soil for too long and the leaves have drooped and turned yellow, it is likely the roots have rotted, in which case it can be too difficult to save the peace lily.

Why are my Leaves Drooping and Turning Yellow?

From my experience, yellowing and drooping leaves are usually caused by root rot due to overwatering. Peace lilies are sensitive to too much moisture around the roots and need the surface of the soil to dry slightly between bouts of watering. If the soil is consistently boggy, the leaves turn yellow and droop due to root rot.

Note that the peace lilies may be drooping and turning yellow because the soil is too damp, which as I have seen before, may not necessarily be because of over-watering.

Poor drainage has the same effect as overwatering and promotes the conditions for root rot, causing the leaves to droop and turn yellow.

When people present me with a yellowing peace lily, I often find it is poor drainage responsible which can be because of pots without drainage holes in the base or due to saucers, trays, and decorative outer pots underneath the peace lily, causing water to pool around the base of the pot, creating boggy conditions around the roots.

Peace lilies can also droop and turn yellow because of the low availability of nutrients in the soil.

If I have left a peace lily in the same pot for a long time (or the potting soil is particularly poor in nutrients), then I find peace lily’s roots can exhaust the soil of nutrients, which causes the leaves to droop, and the lower leaves to turn yellow.

Lower leaf of a peace lily drooping and turning yellow due to low nutrients.
The lower leaf of this peace lily is drooping and turning yellow due to low nutrients.

Rather confusingly, I discovered that peace lilies can also turn yellow and droop due to underwatering, either because the peace lily is not watered often enough or watered too lightly.

Important tip: Peace lilies should always be watered thoroughly to ensure water infiltrates the potting soil and reaches the roots where it is required.

If the peace lily is watered too lightly, then only the top inch or so of the potting soil becomes moist, and the roots cannot access the water, resulting in the leaves drooping and older leaves at the base of the plant turning yellow.

How I saved it…

If you have been watering peace lilies MORE OFTEN than every 7 days, then this is the reason for the leaves drooping and turning yellow:

  • You need to scale back the watering, so that the surface of the soil dries between bouts of watering. This pattern of watering creates the optimal cycle of moisture to meet the peace lily’s water requirements without stressing the roots with damp soil. Typically, this means I water peace lilies every 7 days, but I always test to see if the surface of the soil has dried first.
  • Always plant peace lilies in pots with drainage holes in the base and empty saucers and trays of excess water regularly. The right cycle of watering needs to be in combination with good drainage to prevent drooping, yellow leaves. Saucers, trays, and decorative outer pots cause water to pool at the bottom of the pot and promote the conditions for root rot, so be diligent in emptying them regularly of excess water.

If the peace lily has been in the same pot for years and the leaves have started to droop and the lower leaves in particular turn yellow, gradually then this is likely because the soil is low in nutrients:

  • I advise using an all-purpose, balanced, general houseplant fertilizer at half strength once in the Spring and once in the Summer to revive the peace lily. From experimenting, I found peace lilies are sensitive to, too much fertilizer (which causes the leaf tips to turn brown), so I recommend always applying any fertilizer at half strength. Apply a well-balanced fertilizer that provides the peace lily with the nutrients it requires for growth and flowering. (Read my article, why is my peace lily not flowering?)

Typically any of the peace lily’s leaves that have turned yellow do not recover and turn green again so you need to trim them back to the soil line with a sharp pair of pruners, which helps to stimulate new growth of healthy green leaves.

If the bottom leaves of the peace lily are turning yellow and the soil feels dry to a finger depth then you have been watering your peace lily too lightly or not often enough, I this case I would:

  • I place the peace lily in a basin of water for 10 minutes, ensuring the root ball is submerged. If the soil has dried out completely, from underwatering, then it can bake hard and repel water off the surface. Submerging the root ball allows water to infiltrate into the soil and reach the roots where it is required. This should address the problem of drought-stressed drooping leaves.
  • I water my peace lily thoroughly every 7 days. A generous soak ensures the peace lily’s soil is evenly moist so that the roots can access the moisture which prevents the leaves from drooping. Always ensure that the surface of the soil feels dry between bouts of watering, to create the optimal cycle of soil moisture to keep the leaves perky yet avoid risking root rot.
  • I always mist the leaves regularly whilst they are drooping. Misting the leaves helps to create a humid micro-climate that emulates the high humidity of the peace lily’s native environment. If you live in an arid climate with high temperatures, it may be necessary to mist the leaves every day to prevent drooping leaves.
This is a photo of the same peace lily that is drooping at the top of the article, which has now perked up thanks to submerging the soil is a basin of water and misting the leaves.
This is a photo of the same peace lily that is drooping at the top of the article, which has now perked up thanks to submerging the soil in a basin of water and misting the leaves.

Once you have improved the conditions of your peace lily by watering every 7 days and misting the leaves to increase the humidity, the drooping leaves should revive in the following days.

You should snip any yellow leaves back to the base of the plant to stimulate new green growth.

(Read my article, why are my peace lily flowers turning green?)

Why is My Peace Lily Drooping Even After Watering?

I have made this mistake myself and it is very frustrating!

The reason for peace lily leaves drooping even after watering is usually because of overwatering or poor drainage. Too much water around the roots from overwatering excludes oxygen from the soil which interferes with root respiration and prevents the roots from drawing up moisture and nutrients causing the peace lily’s leaves to droop.

Peace lilies need to grow in well-draining, porous soil and ideally, the surface of the soil should dry between each bout of watering.

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

If there is too much moisture around the roots (due to overwatering) or the soil is too compacted, then the roots cannot function properly which causes the leaves to droop as a sign of stress.

If the soil is consistently damp from overwatering or poor drainage, then this promotes the conditions for root rot which causes the leaves to turn yellow, with a drooping, dying appearance.

It is also possible for peace lily leaves to droop even after watering if you are watering too lightly.

Useful tip: I strongly advise that peace lilies should be watered thoroughly so that excess water trickles from the drainage holes in the base which indicates the water has reached the roots where it is required.

This is because watering too lightly, only moistens the top inch or so of the soil, and the roots cannot access the moisture which results in drooping leaves.

If the peace lily has been chronically underwatered then the soil can bake hard (particularly peat-based potting mediums) and become hydrophobic (repels water) causing the water to trickle off the surface and down the side of the pot without actually reaching the roots where it is required,

It is also important to note, that there are many reasons for peace lily leaves to droop that cannot be alleviated with watering, such as low humidity, high or too temperatures, poor drainage, and low nutrients in the soil.

How I Save it…

  • You need to scale back the watering and allow the surface of the soil to dry before watering again. I water my peace lilies thoroughly, then I allow the surface of the soil to dry before I water again, as my testing has shown me this optimal pattern of watering to ensure the peace lily has enough water to avoid drooping due to drought stress and not too much water to avoid the leaves drooping due to boggy soil.
  • Ensure the peace lily has good drainage with pots with drainage holes in the base and well-draining soil. If the soil is draining slowly then it may be too compacted, in which case it is a good idea to repot the peace lily and amend the potting soil with some perlite which helps to increase drainage and creates more space for oxygen around the roots.
  • Empty saucers, trays, or decorative outer pots of excess water after watering. This helps to avoid excess water pooling around the base of the pot, which keeps the soil too boggy for the peace lily to tolerate and causes the leaves to droop.
  • I recommend testing the soil to see if water is infiltrating properly and reaching the roots. Sometimes, I have found the soil can bake hard due to underwatering and high temperatures, which can cause water to trickle off the surface of the soil and down the side of the pot without infiltrating the soil and reaching the roots. I’ve found that feeling the soil to a finger depth and at the bottom of the pot and through the drainage hole at the base to see if I can detect moisture is the best way of doing this.
  • If the soil feels dry I advise placing the peace lily in a basin of water for 10 minutes, with the root ball submerged to allow water to infiltrate the soil properly to alleviate the drought stress that caused the drooping leaves.

If overwatering is the cause for drooping leaves, then as long as you reduce watering and ensure water can drain from the peace lily’s pot efficiently, then my peace lilies will show signs of recovery in the following days.

It is important to create favorable conditions for the peace lily to revive with regular misting to increase the humidity and a stable temperature range of 68°F and 85°F (20°C and 30°C) with 10 degrees cooler at night.

(Read my article, How to Grow and Care for Peace Lilies).

Why are my Peace Lily Leaves Turning Brown and Drooping?

Whenever I see brown drooping leaves, I find it almost always to do with too much direct sunlight and low humidity. Peace lilies need to grow in indirect light with high humidity. If the leaves are exposed to direct sunlight and the air is too dry, then this causes the leaves to scorch brown with a drooping appearance.

Peace lilies grow under a canopy in their native tropical environment and are protected from direct sunlight. This means the peace lilies’ leaves are particularly sensitive to any harsh, direct sunlight, which results in leaves drooping and turning brown.

So, if your peace lily is on a window sill with direct sunlight, I can assure you this is why the leaves are turning brown and drooping.

As peace lilies grow in tropical environments, they are adapted to living in high humidity. If the humidity is too low indoors, then the dry air saps too much moisture from the leaves, causing the leaf tips to turn brown and the leaves drooping.

Peace lily leaf with brown tip, due to low humidity.
Peace lily leaf with brown tip, due to low humidity.

Low humidity indoors can be caused by several factors, such as:

  • Air currents from forced air or air conditioning dramatically lower the humidity.
  • Sources of indoor heat also dry out the air, particularly in Winter.
  • Draughty areas of the house caused by open doors or windows.

Whilst low humidity is often a cause of peace, lily leaves drooping and turning brown, high temperatures, too much sunlight, and underwatering are usually contributing factors.

(Read my article on how to fix peace lilies with brown leaf tips).

How I Revive My Plants…

  • I would move your peace lily to a location away from direct sunlight, with bright, indirect light. Bright yet indirect light provides the peace lily with enough energy to grow and flower.
  • I would advise giving the soil a generous soak. It is important to establish a good watering routine to prevent the leaves from drooping and turning brown. Typically, from my experimentation, I discovered it is best practice to water peace lilies every 7 days with a thorough watering, although you should always ensure the surface of the soil feels dry between each watering.
  • Mist the leaves regularly to increase the humidity, or use a humidifier. Misting the leaves creates a humid microclimate that emulates the tropical humid conditions of the peace lily’s native environment. This helps to reduce water loss from the drooping leaves, which helps it revive its appearance. You can also use a special plant humidifier (available online). I quite like it as you can provide humid conditions for several tropical houseplants in a small area.
  • The individual leaves that are scorched brown from direct sunlight are unlikely to revive. Once you have increased the humidity and watered the peace lily to alleviate the drooping appearance, wait until you see new growth before pruning the individual brown scorched leaves back to the base of the plant. When the peace lily is showing signs of growth, you can be assured that it is recovering and resilient enough to cope with good pruning.
  • Be mindful of high temperatures from indoor heating, air currents from air conditioning, and draughts, which sap moisture from the leaves. Peace lilies prefer a temperature range of between 68°F and 85°F (20°C to 30°C) during the day and nighttime temperatures about 10 degrees cooler in the evening, so keep them away from direct sources of heat and do not place them on cold windows sill to prevent drooping leaves.

By watering the peace lily with a good soak, misting the leaves, and maintaining a temperature range of between 68°F and 85°F (20°C and 30°C) the peace lily should recover from its drooping appearance in the following days.

Pro tip: I often move any peace lilies that look unwell to my bathroom to benefit from the natural humidity.

Prune any brown leaves back to the base of the plant to promote green leaves’ growth and revive the appearance of the peace lily.

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

Key Takeaways:

  • Usually, the reason for drooping peace lily leaves is because of low humidity, underwatering, and low temperatures. Peace lilies grow in tropical climates with high humidity, warm temperatures, and moist, yet well-draining soil. If the soil dries out around the roots and the air is too dry the leaves droop as a sign of stress.
  • The reason for peace lily leaves drooping after watering is because the soil is too damp for the peace lily to tolerate. Peace lilies need well-draining soil. Too much water around the roots excludes oxygen which prevents root respiration and interferes with the peace lily’s root’s ability to draw up nutrients and moisture which causes the leaves to droop.
  • The reason for peace lily leaves drooping after repotting is usually because the new pot is larger and contains more soil and therefore dries out much more slowly after watering than the peace lily is used to. Slow-drying soil can promote the conditions for root rot, causing the leaves to droop and turn yellow.
  • The reason for drooping peace lily leaves turning yellow is because of overwatering and slow-draining soils. The surface of the soil should dry between bouts of watering. If the soil is consistently damp then this causes root rot which turns the leaves yellow with a drooping appearance.
  • Peace lily leaves turn brown with a drooping appearance due to, too much direct sunlight. Peace lilies grow under a canopy in bright indirect light, protected from direct sunlight. If peace lily leaves scorch brown and droop when they are in the sun.
  • To revive a drooping peace lily, recreate the conditions of its native environment by misting the leaves to increase the humidity, water thoroughly every 7 days, shade the leaves from direct sunlight, and maintain a temperature range of 68°F and 85°F (20°C to 30°C) and the drooping leaves should revive their appearance.

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