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CONFESSIONS OF A HOUSEPLANT KILLER

Innocent or not, we’ve all done it. Perhaps you went on vacation and forgot about your houseplants, or habitually over-water/under-water, or worse, you just pitch them and buy more when death looms.


The goal of this recurring blog is to highlight various types of houseplants and how to save them from this plight! In my case a neighbor gifted me a peace lily, which I’m not that familiar with, however, I was told it’s an easy plant to care for.


Oh really? Try me.


So how did I almost kill this famously “low maintenance” plant?


Let’s investigate…


Peace lilies aka Spathiphyllum (spath-ee-FIL-um) enjoy medium to low light, which is something I learned after putting them in front of a window whereby its leaves started reaching for more light and got “leggy.” Note the blooming orchid in the background. Aren’t they hard to grow?

Yet they've thrived for years and the peace lily appears to be dying.


So what gives?


Even though this plant prefers a fair amount of water, one of the most common mistakes is over-watering which turned out to be the main culprit. So what did I do? I made it worse by under-watering and thus began the killing cycle…

Besides succulents, I usually water all of the plants once a week on the same day, which obviously didn’t work well in this instance. I discovered that not all plants need to be watered on a schedule! For more clues about watering check out this link. Now I touch the soil about an inch down to see if it’s dry and water to the point where it’s moist but not soggy. You can also use a soil moisture meter to be sure.



Peace lilies that get more light will grow beautiful white spathes, however, given their ability to clean the air from pollutants such as benzene and formaldehyde, they’re still a great houseplant to grow in low light conditions without any blooms.


Further investigation revealed that peace lilies don’t need a lot of fertilizer; just apply the normal houseplant kind once or twice a year. Learn more about exact amounts here.


The container you keep them in is very important! Your pot must have good drainage otherwise the plant is susceptible to root rot which is a sure killer of most houseplants.


To regulate/encourage new growth, I moved the plant to a lower-lit area and pruned the discolored overgrown leaves to the base. Now with a fresh start, I'll give it a few weeks before I move it to its next pot. Peace lilies want to keep growing bigger but not too fast! Make sure you move up in only 1-2 inch increments with your next pot as they like to stay hugged in clusters.


Tell us your near-death/killer houseplant confessions by filling out the form on our website www.waltonmastergardeners.com/ask-mg and we'll help you investigate!


Remember to mark your calendars for the annual plant sale on April 15th at our new UGA Extension Office, 1208 Criswell Rd SE, Monroe, and be sure to check out the free events this spring around Walton County by clicking here.


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