How To Save a Peace Lily with Brown Leaves


how to save a peace lily with brown leaves

The reason peace lilies have brown leaves can be because of temperature fluctuations, sun burn and dry soil due to underwatering. Peace lily leaf tips turn brown because of low humidity which saps too much moisture from the leaves for the peace lily to tolerate.

Most common reasons for peace lily leaves turning brown.

  1. Low humidity turns the leaf tips brown. Peace lilies are tropical plants that prefer a humid environment. Low humidity from indoor heating or air conditioning, saps moisture from the leaves, turning the leaves and leaf tips brown.
  2. Underwatering cause yellow and brown drooping leaves. Peace lilies need evenly moist soil. if the soil is too dry the leaves turn brown.
  3. Too much fertilizer causes leaf tips to turn brown. Peace lilies are more sensitive to fertilizer then most house plants. If fertilizer is applied too often or in too high concentration, the leaf tips turn brown.
  4. Hard tap water with too many minerals or chemicals (fluoride and chlorine) can cause brown tips. Peace lilies prefer to be watered with rain water, bottled water or distilled water to avoid brown tips.
  5. Overwatering and poor drainage. Peace lilies need potting soil to be evenly moist, yet well draining. Boggy soil initially causes the leaf tips to turn brown and eventually results in yellowing, drooping leaves.
  6. Direct sunlight scorches leaves yellow and brown. Peace lilies are adapted to grow in the shade, so if the leaves are in the sun burn to a yellow and brown color.
  7. Fluctuating temperatures cause leaves to turn brown. Peace lilies prefer a temper range of 68°F and 85°F with around 10°F cooler at night. If the temperature is too hot, then this can dry the soil too quickly causing drooping and brown or yellow leaves, whereas cold stress can also cause brown, dying leaves.

To revive a peace lily with brown leaves recreate the conditions of its native environment by misting the leaves to increase humidity, plant the peace lily in well draining soil, water thoroughly every 7 days, locate the peace lily in shade and cut back any brown leaves or leaf tips with a sharp pair of pruners.

Peace Lily Leaves and Leaf Tips Turning Brown

Peace lily with brown tips is usually because of low humidity.
Peace lily with brown tips is usually because of low humidity.

The most common reasons for peace lily leaves turning brown is because of low humidity, underwatering and too much sun. Peace lilies are topical plants that prefer humid conditions, evenly moist soil and shade. If the air around the leaves and soil around the roots is too dry, the leaf tips turn brown.

Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum wallisii) should be watered around once a week, so that the soil is evenly moist.

If the soil dries out completely, it can often bake hard which causes the soil to become hydrophobic (repels water) which causes water to run off the surface of the soil and down the side of the pot and out of the drainage hole in the base, without infiltrating the soil properly and reaching the roots.

If the peace lily’s roots cannot access the water it requires then the first sign of stress is drooping leaves with brown tips.

Peace lilies are also tropical plants that grow in humid forests in their native environment in central and South America.

The humidity indoors is typically lower then the peace lily prefers, which in of itself can cause brown leaf tips, but it can be exacerbated by indoor heating, air conditioning, draughts from open doors.

The dry air saps moisture from the leaves turning the tips brown as the first sign of stress.

Peace lilies are also adapted to shady environments and have very sensitive leaves, so direct sunlight or even rooms with very bright light are contrary to their preferred conditions which can cause brown tips.

Direct sunlight is more likely to scorch the leaves and flowers yellow and brown.

Whilst dry conditions are the most common causes of brown leaves and brown tips, there are other factors which can contribute to the leaves turning brown such as:

How to Save a Peace Lily With Brown Leaves and Brown Leaf Tips

Trim back any brown tips into a leaf shape and trim any brown, drooping leaves back to the base of the plant.
Trim back any brown tips off into a natural leaf shape and prune any brown, drooping leaves back to the base of the plant.

To determine whether the cause of the peace lily leaves, flower and leaf tips turning brown due to overwatering and poor drainage or dry conditions due to underwatering, feel the soil at the top of the pot and at the bottom through the drainage hole in the base.

The soil should feel evenly moist. If the soil feels dry then this is likely the cause of the leaf tips and leaves turning brown, in which case:

  • Place the peace lily in a basin of water for 10 minutes or more, ensuring the root ball is fully submerged. This ensures that water can absorb in the soil properly, so that the roots can access the moisture they need rather then water trickling of the surface.
  • Water peace lilies with a really thorough soak every 7-10 days. The peace lily prefers a cycle of watering where the soil is watered thoroughly then the surface of the soil is allowed to dry between bouts of watering. This ensures that the peace lily has access to enough moisture to meet its water requirements without risking root rot from boggy soil.
  • Mist the leaves too increase the humidity indoors. Either mist the leaves of use a special plant humidifier to increase the humidity around your peace lily. Misting the leaves creates a humid micro-climate around the peace lilies leaves which emulates the humid conditions of its native environment and counteracts the affects of dry air indoors, to prevent brown leaf tips.
  • Avoid locating peace lilies near a source of heat or in the path of air currents from air conditioning or draughts. Peace lilies grow well at room temperature, but indoor can dry the air significantly, so ideally place your peace lily away from any indoor heating.

If the soil feels boggy at the top and base of the pot then overwatering and poor drainage are the causes of the leaf tips turning brown in which case:

  • Reduce how often you water the peace lily. Peace lilies prefer a good soak, so that the soil is evenly moist, then wait for the surface of the soil to dry before watering again. This mimics the typical conditions of soil moisture in the peace lilies natural habitat. Typically this means watering peace lilies every 7- 10 days.
  • Ensure the peace lily is planted in a pot with drainage holes in the base to allow water to drain freely. Peace lilies need evenly moist that drains well, to avoid excess water pooling around the roots. Empty any saucers or trays underneath the pot of excess water regularly to ensure good drainage.

If you have particularly hard water in your area then use rainwater, bottled water or filtered water, to water your peace lily, to avoid turning the leaf tips brown. You can also water peace lilies with water that is left in a bowl overnight to allow fluoride and chlorine to evaporate from the water, which should make t safe to water the peace lily.

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

Should I cut the brown tips off my peace lily leaves?

Cut any brown leaf tips back with sharp pair of pruners. The brown tip does not turn green again, so trim the leaf back with a natural looking, rounded leaf shape, to restore the appearance of the peace lily’s leaves and to stimulate new green growth.

This does not harm the peace lily and if you have fixed the cause of the the leaf tips turning brown then peace lily should stay a healthy green.

Trim the brown tips off peace lilies with pruners, into a natural leaf shape.
Trim the brown tips off peace lilies with pruners, into a natural leaf shape.

Peace Lily Leaves Turning Brown and Yellow

The most likely reason for peace lily leaves turning yellow and brown is because of too much sun. Peace lilies are native to tropical forests where they grow in the shade. Therefore the leaves very sensitive to direct sunlight which causes them to scorch and turn brown and yellow.

Typically if the peace lily has been lightly scorched, the leaves that are exposed to the most sun turn yellow but badly scorched leaves turn yellow with brown, dying leaves.

Direct sunlight can also sap moisture from the leaves and dry the potting soil quickly which further exacerbates the stress and promotes the conditions for drooping, curling leaves.

So if your peace lily is on a South facing window sill with direct sunlight, then this is the reason for the leaves turning brown and yellow with a scorched appearance.

Even brief exposure to the sun can scorch the leaves brown and yellow.

How to Fix a Peace Lily with Brown and Yellow Leaves

  • Move the peace lily to an area of shade with indirect light. Peace lilies tolerate shade to bright indirect light, so find any location where the peace is out of the sun.
  • Give the peace lily a thorough watering and mist the leaves. If the leaves have been scorched in the sun then it has probably also caused drought stress, so misting the leaves and giving the soil a good soak to ensure the roots can access moisture should help if the leaves are drooping.

If the peace lily’s leaves have scorched brown and yellow, they do not turn green again, but do not cut back the leaves whilst the plant is stressed.

Provide the peace lily with its optimal conditions (high humidity, room temperature, evenly moist soil). and ideally wait until you see new green growth emerging. Peace lilies are more resilient to pruning when you can see active growth but even then, only prune up to 1/3 of the leaves even if they are scorched.

Trim the dying leaves back to the base of the plant which improves the appearance and stimulates the growth of healthy green leaves. Peace lilies can recover very quickly when they are in active growth.

Peace Lily Leaves Turning Brown and Dying Due to Fluctuating Temperatures

The reason for peace lily leaves turning brown and dying is often due temperatures fluctuating. Peace lilies prefer a temperature range of 68°F and 85°F with around 10°F cooler at night. If the temperature exceeds the prefer temperature range or changes suddenly the leaves turn brown with a dying appearance.

Peace lilies typically grow very well at room temperature but, if the peace lily is located on a window sill and the leaves are in contact with the widow, then the cold glass at night can turn any leaves or flowers brown.

The fluctuating indoor temperatures in Winter can also cause the peace lily leaves to turn brown.

The temperature during the day time in Winter is usually cooler indoors but if the heating is turned on in the evening, then the temperature can suddenly increase at a time when the peace lily prefers cooler temperatures.

This cycle of temperatures is contrary to the temperature cycle to which the peace lily is adapted in its native environment and can result in the leaves turning brown and dying.

Indoor heating can also lower the humidity and increase the rate at which the soil dries, both of which can be unfavorable for the peace lily and contribute to the leaves turning brown.

(Read my article, how to save a peace lily with yellow leaves).

How to Save a Peace Lily with Brown, Dying Leaves

  • Locate the peace lily on the other side of the room from indoor heating. As long as the peace lily is not directly in the path of a forced air current or next to a radiator, then the peace lily should be able to recover. High temperatures at night, (when the peace lily prefers cooler temperatures) should be avoided, however possible.
  • Avoid placing the peace lily too near a window, where the leaves or flowers can be in contact with the cold glass. Windows feel much colder then the rest of the room and can cause localized brown areas on the peace lily leaves if they are touching the glass.
  • Avoid draughty areas such as near open doors or windows as a blast of cool air can harm the peace lily.
  • Mist the leaves to counteract dry air and submerge the root ball in a basin of water. The misting of the leaves (you can also use a humidifier) should help to alleviate the drought stress and replicate natural tropical, humid conditions. High temperatures cause the potting soil to bake hard, so submerging the root ball in a basin of water for 10 minutes is the best way to ensure the water reaches the roots properly.

Peace lilies prefer a temperature range of 68°F and 85°F (with around 10°F cooler at night) which aligns with room temperature in most homes. The key is to avoid placing peace lilies too near indoor heating or sudden cold, and the peace lily should be able to recover.

Should I cut the brown leaves off my peace lily?

Use a sharp pair of pruners to cut the brown, dying leaves back to the base of the plant. Pruning back brown, dying leaves, helps to stimulate the growth of new healthy green leaves to restore the appearance of the peace lily.

Typically it is better to prune peace lilies back during active growth in the Spring and Summer as the plant is more resilient at this time, but if the leaves are turning brown, drooping and dying they can be cut back at anytime of year.

Avoid using any fertilizer, if you see brown dying leaves as the plant is already in a state of stress and fertilizer which stimulates growth can place too high a demand on the resources of the peace lily.

Only use fertilizer in the Spring and Summer, whilst the peace lily is in active growth.

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

Key Takeaways:

  • Peace lily leaves turn brown due to drought, low humidity, temperature fluctuations and sun burn. Peace lily leaves scorch yellow and brown due to too much direct sunlight. Peace lily leaf tips turn brown because of dry soil and low humidity which saps moisture from the leaves and results in brown tips.
  • Peace lily leaves turn brown and yellow because of too much direct sunlight. Peace lilies are adapted to growing in the shade in their native environment and there leaves are very sensitive to the sun which causes them to scorch yellow and brown.
  • Peace lily leaves can turn brown with a drooping, dying appearance, due to sudden temperature fluctuations. Peace lilies prefer a temperature range of 68°F and 85°F with around 10°F cooler at night. If the temperature changes suddenly, the contrast in conditions can cause drooping, dying brown leaves.
  • Cut back any brown leaf tips with a sharp pair of pruners into a natural leaf shape to restore the appearance of the peace lily. Mist the leaves after trimming back the tips, to prevent them turning brown again.
  • To revive a peace lily with brown leaves, mist the leaves to increase the humidity, water the soil thoroughly, and protect the peace lily’s leaves from any direct sunlight. Prune any brown leaves back to the base to stimulate healthy growth.

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