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Peace lilies have made a name for themselves as picky little divas, but I don’t think they’re that deserving of the title.
In my experience, there are DEFINITELY more finicky plants – Alocasia, Fiddle leaf figs, or Ficus Audrey to name just three.
Are Peace lilies good for beginners?
I’m gonna argue that yes, they are, for many of the same reasons I think Alocasia are great for beginners.
It’s not that they don’t require any attention, but more that if you do the research and learn how to care for peace lilies, you’ll learn a lot about house plant care.
You’ll have to learn about the different types of light, why the correct amount of humidity is essential, and the difference between overwatering and not letting the soil dry out too much.
Peace lilies are one of the most forgiving picky house plants – they’re pretty happy to grow back so long as you don’t totally wreck the roots. They grow quickly, look lush, and bloom with little effort on your part.
The one caveat I have with peace lilies is they sometimes don't vibe with your home environment.
Some people…simply can’t keep them healthy without helicopter parenting them. It’s not that common but it does happen. If you’re struggling with a specific peace lily issue and you can’t find the answer here, feel free to leave me a comment or DM me on Instagram.
So, if peace lilies aren’t that hard to take care of, why do people make such a fuss about them being picky?
Well, there are definitely a few things that peace lilies can be sniffy about, so we’ll cover them first. After I’ve gone through all the reasons they can be a pain, I’ll add a bit of balance with all the reasons peace lilies can be chill af.
Spoilers: there are only a couple of non-negotiables with peace lilies. On balance, they’re a lot less dramatic than we give them credit for. They will not drop a leaf if you’re a day or two late with the water (unlike SOME people, namely Alocasia).
Peace lilies like higher humidity
It’s not even that they like high humidity – they just really don’t like dry air. Anything above 40% humidity and they’ll likely be perfectly happy.
Peace lilies also seem to be able to adapt to living in lower humidity over time IF you buy little tiny ones and grow them up. Peace lilies grow pretty quickly if you care for them well, so whilst you may need to wait a couple of years for flowers* you’ll end up with a more robust plant.
Peace lilies also don’t seem to mind inconsistent humidity, so they’re a great pick for your bathroom. Other high humidity-loving plants, such as Calathea need consistent humidity that bathrooms are unlikely to provide.
Fittonias also don’t mind the peaks and troughs of bathroom humidity.
*Peace lilies in stores are treated with a hormone called gibberellic acid, which promotes blooming in plants that are naturally too young to do so, so don’t worry if you bought a plant with flowers but it hasn’t flowered again – it’s likely too young.
Peace lilies can be picky about water
Peace lilies don’t like to dry out too often, but they droop when they’re thirsty (which I’ll go into later) so I personally don’t think it’s that big of a deal.
The issue comes with minerals dissolved in the water. A lot of people report that they can’t give their peace lilies tap water, because it causes brown tips on the ends of the leaves.
If the tips of your plant look like the photo above, then it doesn’t matter to the plant – it’s just an aesthetic thing. A few of my leaves look like this (we have quite hard water) and you can’t tell unless you get in really close.
The issue is when the new leaves are brown all down the edge or the new leaves are coming in distorted and stunted.
In this case, you might want to consider using dechlorinator or a water filter. In my experience, peace lilies have a higher tolerance for mineral deposits in water than, say, Calathea AND they can definitely get better at dealing with it as they grow.
Brown tips on house plants can be caused by a wide variety of issues, so if your water is good but the problem persists, check out the article I linked.
Peace lilies do NOT like being repotted
They will sulk and droop and look awful for weeks. Just try to be understanding and attentive and they’ll eventually get over it.
Try not to disturb their roots too much when you repot, but it’s difficult to repot them without having them notice it at all.
Peace lilies are toxic (but not deadly)
Peace lilies have calcium oxalates in their leaves, which mean that if they’re ingested, they can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, itching, and drooling. HOWEVER, they’re NOT the same as cut flower lilies, which can cause organ failure in cats.
If your cat chews on them, it’s still worth a vet visit if they look uncomfortable, but it’s rarely panic-worthy.
Peace lilies droop when they’re thirsty
Some plants won’t say a thing about being thirsty, then they droopy, go brown and die within about two days. Peace lilies droop pretty soon after they feel a bit dry, so you can water them when you notice droopage and they’ll recover in a few hours, and pretend nothing happened.
Now, it isn’t best practice to wait until your peace lily droops to water it. Whilst it won’t necessarily harm the plant, allowing it to dry out to the point of drooping can slow growth. I prefer to test the soil weekly (or more often in summer) and water the soil thoroughly when the moisture metre reads about a 3.
Peace lilies don’t need special soil
I firmly believe that you can use most house plant potting soils IF you know what you’re doing, but also if you know what you’re doing you’ll know that some aroids do better in a very airy mix.
However, peace lilies don’t really mind what soil they’re in provided it’ll dry out in a couple of weeks, and retains some moisture. I’ve tried them in pure house plant potting mix, store-bought mix with perlite and bark, 100% homemade potting minx, leca, pon, and keeping them in an aquarium and they’re not bothered what they’re kept in.
The aquarium was BY FAR their preferred habitat, but of the others, the plant wasn’t fussed either way.
They do need a pot with drainage holes, and they will get root rot if you overwater.
I wouldn’t recommend keeping them in a terracotta pot unless you want to spend all your time watering them, but my does well in a self-watering pot.
Peace lilies do *ok* in cold weather
The reason peace lilies and Calathea and ferns are so picky about water quality and humidity is that they come from the rainforest and they’re used to the finer things in life – i.e. clean water and a lot of it.
They also can’t tolerate direct light – which is great, but it does lead to a lot of beginners buying Calathea because they collate ‘medium light with ‘easy care’ and the reverse is usually true.
It stands to reason that a plant that lives in the undergrowth of a tropical rainforest is also pretty specific about the temperature ranges it likes – i.e warm. Not cold. Not hot.
And that’s true for a lot of understory non-climbing house plants, but peace lilies are less affected by cold weather. Now, they won’t tolerate being, like, freezing cold. At all. But I can keep mine in my bathroom year round (and I like to keep my bathroom window open, even in January) and my peace lily is ok with it. It doesn’t grow in winter, but it doesn’t perish either.
This is probably something that’s been bred into them – perhaps in a few years Calathea will be hardier too!
Peace lilies like medium light
Peace lilies will burn in very bright light, and they won’t grow in low light, but they’re pretty happy anywhere in between.
If you have a dark corner that needs a lamp and a plant, a peace lily is a great option, because they can grow in artificial light. If they get some natural light and some artificial light (just regular LED light) they’ll be fine.
I don’t normally recommend keeping plants like this, because it’s a recipe for spider mites, but peace lilies are fairly pest-resistant compared to a lot of other plants.
Peace lilies aren’t pest prone
I’d love for someone else to verify this, because I don’t see other people talking about it, but my peace lilies (and I have a few) don’t get pests. I’ve seen the odd thrips on them but they don’t stick around. I assume they taste grim.
Peace lilies propagate by division
If they get too big, or you want to propagate them, you don’t need to bother rooting them or worrying about where to take a cutting from, because they produce pups. You just take the plant out of the pot and gently remove the clump of leaves you want with some roots and pot it in another pot.
Peace lilies grow back if their leaves need cutting off
So I repotted the plant you see above earlier in the season. To give it more room to grow (and to make it look a bit fuller) I separated all the different divisions and planted them together, but farther apart. I noticed the rhizome in the middle didn’t have any leaves coming from it (I think because ti was overcrowded in the middle) so I moved it to the edge. Now look:
I didn’t do anything special, it just stared doing this.
Don’t be put off from trying to grow peace lilies because you heard that they were difficult to care for. They’re not, they just come from a very different place than, say, cacti, so they require different care.
They’re a great plant to learn to care for, because they can help you better understand what tropical plants that grow on the ground need, care-wise.
They’re also pretty cheap and easy to replace, so a great plant to *practice* on.