How to Save a Peace Lily with Yellow Leaves


How to save peace lily leaves turning yellow

Peace lily leaves turn yellow because of overwatering, underwatering with a drooping appearance whereas too much sun can scorch the leaves yellow and brown. Peace lily leaves turn yellow at the bottom naturally as the plant matures.

Peace lily leaves are sensitive to direct sunlight which causes them to scorch yellow and brown (depending on the extent of the sun burn).

Peace lilies need evenly moist, yet well draining soil. If the soil is too boggy or too dry the leaves droop and turn yellow as a sign of stress.

Peace lilies leaves turn yellow after repotting, if they are repotted to a much larger pot. Larger pots have a greater capacity for soil and therefore dry out more slowly after watering which can cause root rot and result in yellow peace lily leaves.

Keep reading for why your peace lily (SPATHIPHYLLUM X ‘WALLISII’) leaves are turning yellow and how to save them

Peace Lily Leaves Yellow and Droopy

Usually the reasons for peace lily leaves turning yellow and droopy are because of overwatering or underwatering. Peace lilies need well draining, evenly moist soil. Boggy soil due to overwatering causes root rot, whereas dry soil causes drought stress, both of which result in leaves drooping and turning yellow.

The optimal watering cycle for peace lilies is to water with a generous soak, to ensure the water has reached the roots, so that the soil is evenly moist, then allow the surface of the soil to dry out between each bouts of watering.

Typically this means watering peace lilies around every 7-10 days to meet the watering requirements and avoid root rot.

I must emphasize it is important to always water generously, to ensure that the water infiltrates the soil and reaches the roots where it is required.

If peace lilies are watered too lightly, only the top inch or so of the soil becomes moist and the roots cannot access the water the require, causing the leaves to droop and turn yellow.

Low humidity and fluctuating temperatures, caused by air conditioning and indoor heating can also sap moisture from the leaves and dry out the soil too quickly which can cause the leaves to droop and turn yellow.

Peace lilies grow well at room temperature preferring a temperature range of 68°F and 85°F (20°C- 30°C) during the day and around 10 degrees cooler at night.

During Winter, often the temperature indoors increases at night due to indoor heating, which is contrary to the peace lilies preferred cycle of cooler evening temperatures, particularly if there is a drastic fluctuation of temperatures from day to night.

This contrast in conditions can cause the leaves to turn yellow.

When peace lilies have been underwatered for a long time, the soil can bake hard and become hydrophobic (repels water) causing water to run off the surface of the soil and down the side of the pot and out of the drainage hole, without properly infiltrating the soil and reaching the roots, resulting in yellowing, drooping peace lily leaves.

However, if you are watering peace lilies more often then every 7 days, then the soil becomes too damp for the peace lily to tolerate and this is the reason the leaves are turning yellow and droopy.

Damp soil can also be caused by a lack of drainage holes in the base of the pot or because of saucers, trays and decorative outer pots underneath the peace lily’s pot which cause water to pool around the base of the pot, resulting in boggy soil.

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

How to Save a Peace Lily with Yellow, Drooping Leaves

To tell whether your peace lily is turning yellow and drooping due to underwatering or overwatering, feel the soil to a fingers depth at the top of the pot and feel the soil at the bottom of the pot through the drainage hole in the base to see whether it feels damp or dry.

If the soil is dry then this is the reason for the yellowing drooping leaves, in which case:

  • Place the peace lily in a basin of lukewarm water for 10 minutes or so, ensuring that the root ball is submerged. This allows the water to absorb into the dry soil properly, so that it is fully hydrated and the roots can access the roots they require to alleviate the drought stress.
  • Always water peace lilies generously every 7-10 days, so that excess water visibly trickles from the drainage holes in the base. It is imperative that the peace lily’s soil is evenly moist after watering, so always water thoroughly. Always wait for the surface of the soil to dry before watering again to ensure the right balance of soil moisture, to meet the watering requirements of the peace lily (to prevent yellow, drooping leaves) which also avoiding root rot.
  • Mist the peace lily’s leaves regularly to increase the humidity. Misting the leaves creates a humid micro-climate which mimics, the humid, tropical conditions of the peace lily’s native environment in South America and counteracts the dry air indoors which saps moisture from the leaves.
  • Maintain a temperature range of between 68°F and 85°F (20°C- 30°C) during the day and 10 degrees cooler at night. Peace lilies like warm conditions and grow well at room temperature, but it is important to keep the peace lily in a location that is not directly next to a source of indoor heating, particularly at night as peace lilies need the cycle of cooler temperatures at night, to stay green and healthy.

Once the peace lily has had a good watering and been misted regularly then it should start to perk up from its drooping appearance and start to show signs of recovery, at which point you can trim back the yellow leaves with a sharp pair of pruners, back to base of the plant.

Pruning back the yellowing leaves helps to stimulate the growth of new healthy green leaves and can help reduce stress on the plant.

Always wait until the peace lily is showing signs of recovery before pruning any yellow leaves back, as the peace lily is more resilient and responds better to pruning when in recovery rather then when the plant is stressed all the leaves and drooping.

Do not cut back more then a third of the peace lily’s leaves at any one time to avoid placing additional stress of the plant.

If the potting soil feels damp when you test the soil, then:

  • Scale back how often you water the peace lily. Peace lilies should only be watered when the surface of the soil has just dried out. This helps to replicate the typical cycle of soil moisture in the peace lilies native environment, striking the balance between evenly moist soil, yet avoiding root rot.
  • If the potting soil is draining slowly then replace the soil and add some perlite or grit. Potting soil can drain slowly if it has been compacted are this pushes the air out of the soil and slows down the rate at which the soil dries. Adding grit or perlite improves the soil’s structure and creates more favorable drainage conditions to mitigate the risk of root rot. Approximately 80% potting soil to 20% perlite creates a good balance between moisture retention and drainage.
  • Ensure the peace lily is planted in a pot with drainage hole in the base and empty any saucers and trays underneath the pot of excess water, regularly. Good drainage is imperative to avoid the leaves turning yellow and droopy.

If you replace the the potting soil, then take a look at the roots. If the roots and white and feel firm, then the roots are still healthy and the peace lily is more likely to make a recovery once you have scaled back the watering and improved the drainage.

If the roots are brown, soft in texture with a rotting appearance and bad smell, with yellowing leaves, then this indicates root rot or fungal disease and the peace lily is unlikely to recover.

Peace Lily Leaves Turning Yellow and Brown (Too Much Sunlight)

Peace lily leaves turn yellow and brown because of too much direct sunlight which scorches the leaves. Peace lilies need to grow in the shade and their leaves are very sensitive to direct sunlight. If the leaves are in any amount of sun they scorch yellow and brown.

Peace lilies are native to tropical rainforests where they grow on the forest floor, protected from direct sunlight by a dense tree canopy overhead.

As peace lilies are specifically adapted to tolerate shade and bright indirect light, their leaves are particularly sensitive to any exposure to direct sunlight, which scorches the leaves yellow (the yellow leaves eventually turn brown after being scorched).

Exposure to the sun for a brief period typically results in the leaves that are most sun, turning a scorched yellow color, whereas as more prolonged exposure turns the leaves brown with a drooping appearance which commonly happens when peace lilies are placed on window sills in South facing rooms.

Leaves that are scorched yellow tend to eventually turn brown as the areas of the leaf that are burnt in the sun do not recover.

How to Save a Peace Lily With Yellow and Brown Leaves

  • Move the peace lily to an area of shade or bright indirect light. This immediately helps to reduce the stress on the plant and replicates the shadier conditions of the peace lily’s native environment.
  • Mist the leaves and give the peace lily a thorough watering. Peace lilies are tropical plants that prefer high humidity. Direct sunlight may reduce humidity to unfavorably low levels and exacerbate the peace lilies stress, causing the yellow and brown leaves. Misting the leaves helps to create a humid micro climate which emulates the humid conditions of the peace lilies native environment.
  • Keep the peace lily out of any direct air currents, water every 7-10 days and maintain a temperature range of 68°F and 85°F (20°C- 30°C) during the day and 10 degrees cooler at night. It is important to revive the peace lily, by providing optimal care conditions before trimming any of the yellow or brown, sun burnt leaves.
  • Trim back any yellow or brown leaves back to the base of the plant when you see new green growth emerging. It is important to wait until you see new green leaves emerging before cutting back any sun damaged leaves. Pruning the peace lily straight after it is sun burnt can cause additional stress. New green growth indicates that the peace lily is more resilient to pruning. Cut any yellow or brown leaves with a sharp pair of pruners but do not remove 1/3 or the leaves at any one time.

As long as not all the leaves of the peace lily are scorched yellow and brown, the peace lily has the capacity to recover as long as it has favorable conditions.

However, peace lilies are more likely to recover during active growth in the Spring and Summer (which is when they are most likely to turn yellow and brown due to sun burn) but can struggle to recover if they are scorched during their Fall and Winter period of dormancy.

Peace Lily Leaves Turning Yellow After Repotting

The reason for peace lily leaves turning yellow after repotting is usually because the peace lily is repotted into a much larger pot, that contains more soil and therefore dries out at a slower rate after watering, creating overly damp conditions. If the soil is too damp then peace lily leaves turn yellow due to root rot.

Peace lilies need the soil to retain moisture, yet be porous and well draining rather then damp or boggy.

Too much moisture around the roots excludes oxygen from the soil, preventing root respiration which means the roots cannot draw up the moisture and the nutrients the peace lily requires, resulting in droopy, yellow leaves.

Another reason for peace lily leaves turning yellow is because the soil has been compacted around the root ball too firmly which pushes out all the oxygen from the soil and means the roots cannot function properly which again, results in yellowing leaves.

Peace lilies should always be potted into pots with drainage holes in the base to allow excess water to escape after watering. If the new pot does not have a drainage hole then water pools around the roots of your peace lily causing root rot which turns the leaves yellow.

Saucers, trays and decorative outer pots, underneath your peace lily also cause water to pool around the base of the pot (if they are not emptied regularly after watering) which creates boggy soil and promotes the conditions for root rot.

How to Save a Peace Lily With Yellow Leaves After Repotting

  • Only repot peace lilies to a pot one size up from the previous pot. Larger pots have a greater capacity for soil and therefore a greater capacity to hold moisture causing them to dry out a lot slower. A pot that is only slightly bigger then the peace lilies previous pot should dry out at a similar rate, which mitigates the risk of the leaves turning yellow due to root rot.
  • Ideally repot peace lilies into unglazed clay or terracotta pots rather then plastic or ceramic pots. Whilst peace lilies can grow in any pot (with a drainage holes) clay and terracotta posts are porous which allows the soil to dry more evenly after watering, whereas plastic and ceramic pots are impermeable and retain more moisture.
  • Scale back the watering to once every 7-10 days and ensure the surface of the soil has dried out between bouts of watering. As larger pots dry out at a slower rate, you should adjust how often you water your peace lily to reflect the difference rate of drainage, so that the soil does not remain too damp for too long.
  • If you have compacted the potting soil too firmly when repotting, then repot the peace lily with potting soil amended with perlite or grit. Some perlite or grit helps to ensure the potting soil is porous and well draining which creates space in the soil for oxygen, so that the roots can respire and function properly, to prevent the leaves turning yellow and droopy.
  • Always repot peace lilies in pots with drainage holes in the base to prevent yellow leaves. Empty saucers, trays and decorative outer pots of excess water to prevent water pooling around the roots can causing root rot.

If the peace lily has been in damp soil for too long and has severe rot root, then it is unlikely to survive.

However if you repot your peace lily into a pot that is more proportional to the plant and scale back the watering then it is possible the peace lily can recover, once it has had time to adjust to its new conditions.

Wait until the peace lily is showing signs of recovery before cutting back yellow leaves back to the base with a sharp pair of pruners. Do not cut away more then one third of the leaves at one time as cutting away too many leaves at once can stress the peace lily.

Pruning back yellow leaves helps to stimulate growth of healthy green leaves.

Peace Lily Leaves Turning Yellow at the Bottom

How to save peace lily leaves turning yellow
peace lily turning yellow at the bottom

The reasons for peace lily leaves turning yellow at the bottom are because the lower leaves naturally turn yellow as the plant matures or due to a lack of fertilizer. If the peace lily has been in the same pot for a long time, the roots can exhaust the soil of available nutrients which turns the lower leaves yellow.

Yellowing leaves at the bottom of the peace lily can also be a sign that the peace lily is not watered often enough or watered too lightly.

Peace lilies do not require a lot of fertilizer and can grow and flower for years with applications of fertilizer.

However there is limited available nutrients in a pot, so if the peace lilies roots can use up all the available nutrients during active growth in the Spring and Summer which causes the lower leaves to turn yellow.

The leaves at the bottom also turn yellow and brown as the plant matures. This is because the peace lily prioritizes new growth and therefore redirects its energy from supporting the older leaves at the bottom of the plant (which then turn yellow) to growing the leaves higher up.

How To Save a Peace a Peace Lily with Yellow Leaves at the Bottom

  • If the peace lily has been in the same pot for a long time, then apply a fertilizer during the growing season to prevent yellowing leaves. Always use a general houseplant liquid fertilizer at half strength as peace lilies are particularly sensitive to high concentrations of fertilizer which can turn the leaf tips yellow. Only apply fertilizer during active growth in the Spring and Summer, rather the the Fall or the Winter as this can harm the plant.
  • Always water peace lilies thoroughly so that excess water trickles from the base of the pot. Watering generously ensures the water infiltrates the soil and reaches the roots where it is required. If the peace lily is watered too lightly, only the top inch or so of the soil becomes moist which causes drought stress and results in yellow leaves at the bottom. Water every 7 to 10 days ensuring that the surface of the potting soil has dried before watering again, to create the optimal balance of soil moisture and drainage.
  • If the peace lily is growing and maturing, the leaves at the bottom turn yellow. This is a natural part of the peace lily’s life cycle and the odd yellow leaf at the bottom on the plant do not harm the plant.

Should I cut back Yellow Peace Lily Leaves?

Cut back any peace lily leaves that have turned yellow at the bottom back to the base of the plant with a sharp pair of pruners. This helps to improve the appearance of the peace lily and stimulates the growth of new healthy green leaves.

Peace Lily Leaves With Yellow Tips

Peace lily leaf with a yellow and brown tip.
Peace lily leaf with a yellow and brown tip.

Peace lily leaf tips can turn yellow in reaction to cold temperatures and too much fertilizer. Yellow tips often happen when the peace lily leaf tips are in contact with a cold window which is much cooler then the temperature of the room.

Peace lilies are able to grow at room temperature during the day and prefer a temperature around 10 degrees cooler at night.

However peace lilies are tropical plants and do not tolerate a significant temperature drop at night. The tips turn yellow when they are in contact with the cold glass of the window which can be significantly colder then the rest of the room.

Peace lily leaf tips can also turn yellow or brown in reaction to, too much fertilizer.

Peace lilies are very sensitive to fertilizer, so if it is applied too often or in too high concentration then the peace lily leaf tips can turn yellow or brown.

Sometimes the peace leaf tips can turn yellow if the peace lily is in a particularly bright room (Even if you have located your peace lily out of direct sunlight) which is often combined with high temperatures and low humidity.

Peace lilies are adapted to shade and intensely bright rooms are contrary to their preferred conditions and can turn the leaf tips yellow.

To save a peace lily with yellow tips

Locate the peace lily in shade or indirect light of a lower intensity, scale back the use of fertilizer and ensure the peace lilies leaves are not in contact with cold windows. Trim the yellow tips back with a sharp pair of pruners.

As peace lilies are so sensitive to fertilizer, only apply a general houseplant fertilizer at half strength, during the growing season (Spring and Summer) and avoid applying any fertilizer in Winter.

Try to trim the leaf back with a natural leaf shape by rounding it off, to maintain the appearance of the peace lily.

Once the conditions are more favorable and yellow tips are pruned back, the peace lily should recover.

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

Key Takeaways:

  • The reason for peace lily leaves turn yellow and droopy is often due to underwatering and low humidity. Peace lilies are adapted to growing in evenly moist soil and high humidity in their native tropical environment. If the soil dries out between each watering, then the leaves droop and turn yellow.
  • Peace lily leaves turn yellow because of root rot which is due to overwatering and poor drainage. Peace lilies need well draining soil and prefer the surface of the soil to dry slightly between bouts of watering. If the peace lily is in consistently damp soil the leaves turn yellow with a drooping appearance due to root rot and fungal disease.
  • Peace lily leaves turn yellow after repotting because the soil is drying out too slowly for the roots to tolerate. Larger pots dry out more slowly which creates the conditions for root rot which turns the peace lily’s leaves yellow with a drooping appearance.
  • Peace lily leaves turn yellow and brown if the leaves are in too much direct sunlight. Peace lilies are naturally adapted to growing in the shade and do not tolerate any harsh sun. The sensitive leaves can scorch yellow or brown even if they are only exposed to direct sunlight for a brief period.
  • Peace lily leaves turn yellow at the bottom as the plant matures and should be pruned back to stimulate new growth. Peace lily leaves can also turn yellow at the bottom due to a lack of available nutrients in the soil and a lack of fertilizer.
  • To save a peace lily with yellow leaves, recreate the conditions of its native environment by watering every 7-10 days, misting the leaves to increase the humidity, locating the peace lily in bright indirect light and trimming back the yellow leaves with a sharp pair of pruners.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Posts