This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.
Peace lilies like to stay consistently moist, so they need a soil that retains water and won’t dry out too quickly.
Try to stay away from DIY fertilisers and nutrient-rich compost – combining those with damp soil creates the perfect haven for fungus gnats. Gnats aren’t usually harmful (to you or your plants) but they’re incredibly annoying.
Peace lily soil requirements
Peace lilies have been cultivated and kept as houseplants for hundreds of years. Over the years, they’ve been bred to adapt to a variety of different substrates, so you don’t need to overthink their soil.
These are the qualities we’re looking for in peace lily soil:
- Retains water
Peace lilies like to stay evenly moist, so you need a soil mix with ingredients that hold water. If you only have something that drains very quickly and doesn’t retain water, like cactus soil, you can add coco coir to increase the volume of water it holds.
- Free draining
I know, I know, it sounds contradictory, but we need a soil that holds water, but doesn’t hold so much that it becomes mud. It needs to be damp, but you shouldn’t be able to squeeze a lot of excess water out of it.
If you find that a lot of water is collecting in your soil, you can add soil amendments that will increase the drainage.
The first step is to make sure that the pot has drainage holes – if the water can’t escape from the pot, even the most free-draining soil will become saturated.
To increase drainage in your soil, add ingredients like perlite, orchid bark, or LECA. They will create air pockets in the soil that allow water to drain more quickly.
Don’t feel that you need to repot your peace lily into fresh soil as soon as you bring it home. They don’t really like to be repotted, and chances are, whatever it’s in is fine. Wait until it’s busting out of the pot before repotting.
- It suits your watering style
This is an often overlooked factor when it comes to choosing soil mixes for your plants. There is no point in creating the most perfect peace lily substrate known to man if you’re not going to water it properly.
I learnt the hard way that SUPER chunky, free-draining aroid mixes are not great for people who tend to underwater their plants. Would it have been better if I’d just sorted myself out and watered more often? Sure. Is it ever going to happen? Unlikely.
You can adapt your soil over time as you learn more about the type of plant person you are. I like to use terrarium soil, with some added chunky bits (usually LECA). If you tend to overwater, then you’ll be better off with a chunkier aroid mix.
Peace lily soil recipe options
There are loads of options for peace lily soil recipes.
Don’t overthink this. As long as the soil doesn’t dry out too quickly or stay wet for weeks on end, it really doesn’t matter which soil you use. Those peace lilies can be picky about water quality, repotting, and humidity levels, they have strong roots that will adapt to a variety of substrates.
Store-bought houseplant potting soil (e.g. Miracle-Gro or Westland )
Store-bought soil is a great option for peace lily beginners. There are grandmas up and down the land that have kept their lush and gorgeous peace lilies in unamended Miracle-Gro for decades.
Soil type doesn’t have as much impact on the health of your plant as care does.
Most of these store bought soils are quite dense, but they usually have perlite or similar to add a bit of aeration. If you overwater, then add some bark into the mix. If you’re more of a neglected, then leave it as is.
One of the benefits of store-bought soil over homemade is that they usually have slow-release fertiliser mixed in. If this is the case, you can hold off fertilising for at least one growing season.
Terrarium soil + something chunky – LECA, perlite, orchid bark
This is my favourite option, because it retains water well, but allows plenty of oxygen into the soil. This isn’t the best option for all you overwaterers out there, but it’s great for the rest of us.
To be totally honest, the only reason I started using terrarium soil was because my boyfriend had a load left over. I gave it a go and my plants really liked it. Is it vastly different from a store-bought potting mix? Probably not.
Homemade aroid mix
Homemade aroid mixes are usually better suited to plants that like to dry out a bit between waterings, for example, Monstera, Philodendron, or Epipremnum. However, if you’re an overwaterer, or you simply like to water your houseplants a lot, they can be a good option for peace lilies. I mean, they are aroids.
Aroid mix recipe
- 4 parts coco coir
- 4 parts perlite
- 4 parts orchid bark
- 1 part worm castings
- 1 part horticultural charcoal
Factors influencing peace lily soil requirements
As I mentioned before, care has more of an impact on your peace lily’s health than the soil it’s it. One of the reasons for this is that there are several factors that will influence how much water your soil retains. You could have two identical plants in identical soil mixes, but differences in location will mean one dries out much faster.
Peace lilies aren’t fond of super bright light, but a couple of hours or so won’t hurt them (as long as they’re well-acclimated).
The more light plants get, the faster they grow. The faster they grow, the more water they use, both for photosynthesis and to retain turgor pressure.
One of the most common causes of overwatering (and the resulting root rot) is plants not getting enough light. This is super common with peace lilies because they’re often sold as low-light-loving plants.
If you keep your peace lily in lower light, then make sure it’s in a soil that dries out pretty quickly. Or consider moving it somewhere better!
This is related to light, because if you keep your peace lily somewhere that gets a tonne of bright light, then it will likely also get pretty warm.
Obvs if the soil is getting pretty warm, it’ll dry out faster than if it was cool. Switching the soil to something that retains more water is a better solution than moving the plant to a darker spot.
At the other end of the scale, putting your plant somewhere too cold can result in the soil staying too wet for too long, and you’ll end up with root rot. Switching to a soil mix that retains less water can be helpful here.
The more humid your environment, the longer it takes for soil to dry out.
In warm weather when your peace lily is growing, high humidity is a bonus. It improves the condition of the leaves and usually speeds up growth a bit. It can help the soil stay moist a bit longer, which is helpful in the growing season.
However, cold weather and high humidity can make the soil stay too wet for too long and lead to root rot.
You could switch up the soil in winter to something that retains less water, but I run a dehumidifier and that keeps humidity levels in check without causing too much damage. My humidity levels are still around 60% – anything below 40% will likely cause crispy leaves.
The bigger the pot, the more soil it contains, the more water that soil can hold.
If your pot is too big for your plant, you can add amendments to your substrate to reduce the amount of water your soil can hold. Over time, as the root ball grows, you can adjust the soil so that it retains more water.
In an ideal world, we’d all be able to adjust our watering regime so it suits our plants perfectly. However, life isn’t like that. I would love to be the kind of person that loved spending hours caring for my plants everyday, but I don’t have the time (or, I have to confess, the inclination).
Even the most diligent plant person can go through periods where they can’t care for their plants as well as they’d like.
If you tend to water too often (or not often enough) tailoring your soil mix can really help you care for your plant better, even if it’s not the ‘right’ soil.
There are limits – the most neglectful plant person can’t plant their peace lily in straight clay to retain water – but if you find yourself watering too often, cactus soil might save your peace lily. If you can’t seem to remember to water (or don’t have time) a hydroponic setup is a great option.
Don’t overthink peace lily soil requirements
The perfect soil mix does not exist.
For one thing, as this article has shown, we all have different habits and environments. There are also differences between the individual plant specimens – two identical peace lilies can grow differently in identical circumstances because…that’s what happens with living things.
But also, there’s very little research into the soil requirements for peace lilies. Soil isn’t collected, analysed and recreated from their natural habitat. Even if it were, it would likely be too dense because our homes are very different environments to the rainforest.
Sort out your care first. Get your peace lily in a good spot, learn how to water it properly, and keep the leaves clean. These three things will have a much bigger impact on the health of your plant than the substrate it’s in.*
*Within reason. you can’t just dig up some soil from your garden and hope that works.
I hope that was helpful, and I assuaged your worries about peace lily soil. If you’re looking to learn more about caring for your peace lily, these articles will help you out: