Help me save this plant!
October 30, 2013 8:16 AM   Subscribe

I have a very sad Peace Lily. Help me save her!

Thanks to certain recent events she went 16 days without watering. I was astonished to see any green at all, and the leaves did start to stand up again a bit after some watering.

However, my amateur care just hasn't been enough. I've been careful not to over-water, but despite my best efforts the plant droops further every day. Fertilizer? Cut it back to a stump? Something? Anything?
posted by Perthuz to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Peace Lilies sulk when both overwatered and underwatered. If you stick your finger down into the soil about three inches, does it feel wet or dry? If dry, SOAK the plant. When you water it, put it under running water for about ten minutes, and then let it dry out until it's only slightly damp (5 days or so?).

A lot of people water plants just a little at a time, and it's not enough to get the whole of the root mass wet.

Or if it felt really wet, then let it dry out more.

If you've been watering it appropriately, it might just be done. I've found that my personal Peace Lily's are nice up until they've had enough with something (frost, overdrying, low light), and after that they never regain their full glory even if I tend to them better. Fertilizer in a stressed plant just burns the roots though if you haven't fertilized it at all you could give it a weak dose. Cutting it down will not help at all.
posted by vegartanipla at 8:28 AM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had a peace lily that was pretty much dead. I'd left it outside and it got both sunburned and frozen over the course of a typical English summer. I cut it back to little tiny stumps, literally an inch or so long sticking out of the pot. They were brown, withered stumps too, not green ones like yours. I watered and fed it.

But the plant survived and began to thrive. It is so huge now that I'm wondering where I can move it to.

To start with, I'd suggest you give your plant some food - one designed for foliage plants - before you decide to cut it back. But be brave and bold with the shears if you do decide to cut it back, because your plant can come back from little more than a stump.
posted by essexjan at 8:30 AM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Like vegartanipla I've found that when plants get really dry the soil and rootball seems to lose the ability to wick up water. It behaves almost like it is sprayed with a hydrophobic coating and holds onto the air and just drains the water down the outside of the pot. The best way I've found to fix this is to place the pot into a bucket of water and wait 10-15 minutes. That way the soil gets completely wetted and then let it sit to drip dry for half an hour or so. The pot should be noticeably heavier and the plant should spring back. Putting a few drops of plant food into the water wouldn't hurt either.
posted by koolkat at 8:39 AM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you mix a tiny amount of dish soap in with the water the soil will retain water better. It's a cheap and handy substitute for wetting agents sold in plant stores but don't use it too often.
posted by srboisvert at 9:11 AM on October 30, 2013

This is the best resource I've ever found about spathiphyllum care; I really recommend giving it a thorough read, especially the section on the soil mix. It's not laid out very well, but there's a tremendous amount of info. Spathi's *love* water; the issue is whether the potting mix it's rooted in is allowing the water to flow through properly without remaining waterlogged or dry out prematurely.
posted by catch as catch can at 9:13 AM on October 30, 2013

Okay, make sure it isn't in direct sunlight. Also make sure the soil can drain; if the roots rot, that will kill the plant.

They like to be watered every day or every other day. What we do at the florist is feel the surface-if it feels dry, water. But I cannot emphasize enough-you can NOT let the roots sit in water. That will kill it.

Normally, if a peace lily droops, soak it good, let it drain and it should recover in a day.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:15 PM on October 30, 2013

Aww. She is just depressed. Try: repotting? Maybe if you got a more balanced houseplant soil mix then it would hold water better. It might be holding either too much or too little?
posted by mermily at 5:52 PM on October 30, 2013

Thanks everyone. I've gotten her to perk up a bit with regular watering but there's a lot of damage to more than half the leaves. I'm going to trim those back, saving as many as I can and here in a month or so I'll repot. Staying away from fertilizer for now until she starts flourishing again!
posted by Perthuz at 5:40 AM on November 5, 2013

« Older Good skin moisturizer for men?   |   I think I've given home to Audrey III Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.