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Repotting peace lilies is a pretty simple task BUT due to the somewhat overdramatic nature of these plants, it can be quite stressful.
The good news is that, if done correctly, some degree of wilting is pretty much unavoidable, and it’ll bounce back after a couple of weeks of TLC.
My absolute top tip for repotting peace lilies is to try to keep as much as you can the same ESPECIALLY if your plant is in desperate need of a repot and has been suffering due to its tight confines. Same soil, same pot material, leave the roots alone etc etc.
When to repot your peace lily
Peace lilies don’t have particularly thick, aggressive roots, especially compared to other aroids. This is likely due to their natural habitat – they grow on the rainforest floor close to water – a lot of fine roots provide better anchorage than a few thick roots.
In the event of a flood, the peace lily doesn’t want to get washed away.
Signs your peace lily needs a new pot
- The top of the soil is a blanket of plantlets
Peace lilies propagate by producing new baby plants. Over time, the top of the soil will fill up, and there won’t be any room for new babies.
Each of these babies will have its own root system, and they grow pretty close to the main plant, so if the top of the soil is full of plant you can pretty much assume that the soil is full of roots.
- It wilts a couple of days after being watered
One of the telltale signs that a plant (regardless of species) needs repotting is that it absorbs all the water from the soil much faster than it should. If you find yourself needing to water your peace lily every few days, then it may benefit from being repotted.
By the way, if you’re perfectly happy to keep watering your peace lily frequently, you don’t need to repot it. I know that when you’re busy, watering more often can be easier than carving out the required time to get everything in place to do a repot.
Peace lilies don’t mind being a little rootbound. As long as they’re getting adequate moisture, they really don’t care.
- The roots are coming out of the bottom of the pot
This one needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, especially if you bottom water.
Most plant roots will grow down towards the bottom of the pot because in their natural habitat, that’s a tried and tested method of getting water.
You often find that though the roots are coming out of the pot, there’s plenty of room in the pot. In this case, I take the plant out of the pot, redistribute the roots so that they’re all in the soil, and put it back where it was.
When you take the plant out of the pot and you see more roots than soil, it’s time to repot.
My peace lily in LECA always has roots coming out of the bottom of the pot, because the roots grow into the reservoir. I just leave them to do their thing now.
The best time of year to repot peace lilies
For a lot of plants, the time of year that you repot doesn’t really matter. It’s not ideal to repot in winter (unless you have a good setup with lights and heat mats etc) but it’s also not a death sentence for your plants.
However, peace lilies are quite prone to transplant shock so I like to repot when they’re actively growing. Any time from May to September should be fine.
Bear in mind that repotting can interfere with flower production so a lot of people like to wait until after their peace lily has flowered. In my experience repotting doesn’t really impact flowering so I just repot whenever the plant’s ready and I have the time/inclination.
Preparing to repot your peace lily
I don’t tend to prepare when I repot. I notice that a plant is in need of a new pot and within half an hour we’re all done.
However, this can result in shock for peace lilies, so I do a little more preparation. They also don’t need repotting too often and are a great statement/decorative plant, so I try to put them in a nicer pot than those plants that are crammed together on my shelves.
Considering that peace lilies can be so overdramatic when it comes to being repotted, they’re not usually that bothered about the size of the pot.
If you’re a seasoned houseplant person, then I don’t think it matters too much how big you go pot-wise, as long as you know how to water properly and your soil isn’t incredibly dense.
For newbies, I’d only go up a pot size or two. Measure the diameter of the pot and use a pot with a diameter a couple of inches wider. Even four inches bigger is fine.
I like to use plastic nursery pots for peace lilies because it’s easy to tell when they need water by seeing how heavy/light the pot is.
Another option is self-watering pots. Peace lilies like to stay evenly moist, so self-watering pots are a great option. Just make sure you use a good-quality potting mix that can hold both water and air and won’t turn to mud at the bottom.
I don’t think you need to overthink soil mix when it comes to peace lilies. They’re great candidates for a generic store-bought potting mix. Add some perlite if you plan on keeping it in a self-watering pot.
I have peace lilies in LECA and in a standard aroid mix. The one in leca grows bigger leaves and more flowers. The one in the aroid mix prefers to concentrate on growing new plantlets. I don’t know if that’s caused by the soil type or it’s a genetic difference – just thought I’d share!
Step-by-step guide to repotting your peace lily
The first step is actually unnecessary BUT it’s something that I never remember to do and always end up regretting not doing it when I had the chance.
Step 1 – Prepare your plant
This is a great time to give the leaves a really good clean. Peace lilies collect a lot of dust (and pollen) and taking the time to hose the leaves off before repotting is a great step. I like to run mine under the shower (tepid water) and get all the leaves super clean.
It’s one of the few times I remember to do anything other than a quick dust of the leaves, and cleaning them prior to repotting is great because the clean leaves can photosynthesise more efficiently. More effective photosynthesis helps plants recover from repotting faster.
Step 2 – Prepare your pot
Keep the peace lily in its pot for this part.
Put a layer of substrate on the bottom of the pot. I like to hover my peace lily inside the pot so I know exactly how thick the bottom layer needs to be.
Hold your plant inside the new pot with one hand so that top of both pots are level. Then fill the bottom of the pot with soil until the old pot can sit in the soil and be level with the top of the new pot.
You don’t need a layer of anything other than soil. Gravel, rocks, etc don’t aid drainage. As long as there are holes in the bottom of the pot, it’s fine. If there aren’t holes in the pot, either make some or put the plant in a plastic nursery pot and use the hole-less pot as a cover pot.
You should now have a plant pot sat inside another plant pot.
You can now backfill. Add soil around the edges of the pot so that there are no gaps between the old pot and the new pot.
Basically, you’re repotting the plant without taking it out of its original pot.
Step 3 – Move the plant
Now comes the trickiest part.
Take the peace lily out of the pot with one hand. Then remove the original pot with the other.
Quickly put the plant in the gap left by the pot before the soil avalanches into the hole left by the pot.
Don’t touch the roots. You don’t want the plant to realise it’s been moved. You need to be sneaky.
There’s no benefit to untangling the roots, even if they seem to be one solid root ball. They’ll grow into the new soil over time.
If the root were super root bound and you doubt their ability to ‘find’ the new soil, then slice off the bottom of the root ball with a very sharp knife. Root damage stimulates growth, so you only need to take off a tiny sliver.
Step 4 – Water it thoroughly
Once your peace lily is situated in its new pot, you can give it a thorough water. This helps the soil settle in the pot and make more contact with the roots.
After that just put it in a nice spot and hope it doesn’t have too much of a hissy fit.
Caring for your peace lily after you’ve repotted it
As I mentioned, a bit of wilting is, unfortunately, par for the course when it comes to repotting peace lilies. They thrive on gentle nurturing and consistency, and being wrenched out of their substrate and moved isn’t something they’re equipped to deal with.
Tips for avoiding transplant shock
- Try not to disturb the roots
- If it was growing well where it was, don’t be tempted to move it
- Don’t adjust the new substrate – keep it as similar to the old one as you can
- Don’t water it unless it’s dry – it could be a dramatic wilt rather than a thirsty wilt
- Don’t fertilise it until you see new growth
Why is my peace lily wilting after being repotted?
It just seems to be the peace lily response to being repotting. A lot of houseplants wilt after being repotted because it’s simply not something that would ever happen to them in the wild (unless something catastrophic has happened).
A peace lily’s default response to anything adverse happening to it is to wilt. Perhaps it thinks it’s hiding from predators??
Wait a couple of weeks and it’ll perk up. If it doesn’t, try increasing the light/warmth/humidity. That usually helps them perk up.
Ok, that’s it for this article. Repotting peace lilies is pretty straightforward, and they do tend to recover, so apologies if I scared you. If you need more information on peace lily care, check out these articles: