Peace lilies are among the best indoor plants because of the minimal care they require and the ability to bloom reliably. They are, however, quite sensitive to changes such as overwatering, too much fertilizer, and improper light. What are the signs of an overwatered peace lily and how can you revive and make it recover?
Signs of an overwatered peace lily include drooping, leaves turning yellow, brown tips, and root rot from suffocation. To revive and save the peace lily, move it to a shaded spot, treat root rot, and then repot it using a fresh potting mix. Ensure the pot has a draining hole to prevent waterlogging.
Peace lilies grow in tropical forests but not in swampy regions. As such, overwatering will affect it negatively since it’s used to having just enough water to go by.
If overwatering is not remedied on time, it will eventually kill the plant since it’s simply drowning its root system. Luckily, you can restore it in a few simple steps as I’ve explained below.
Is it bad to overwater a peace lily plant?
When it comes to peace lily care, overwatering is not recommended because soggy conditions cut off oxygen supply. Your plant will not get adequate oxygen to grow healthy and survive.
Too much water usually leads to fungal infections in potted plants. Root rot will start manifesting as brown to black root tips, altered texture, and oozing sap. When identified and fixed early, peace lilies can recover from overwatering symptoms.
Overwatering your peace lily is a bad thing for the following reasons:
It chokes the root
Only plants adapted to swampy conditions such as the mangrove can survive when there’s too much water in the ground. Giving your peace lily too much water results into soaked soil conditions which only make it hard for the roots to breathe.
If the roots can’t breathe, they’ll not function normally. The result is poor health for the plant since the roots take in water and nutrients for it to thrive.
Leads to fungal disease
When your peace lily’s health deteriorates due to the poor root system, it becomes highly susceptible to diseases. These are many types of fungi and they manifest as root rot in houseplants in different ways. They include:
The signs of this disease include the yellowing and wilting of leaves in their lower sections. The petioles (the stalk between the stem and the leaf) may also turn dark-brown in color. The roots may also turn black, spongy and even peel off.
This fungus can be identified with fine webbing and brown spots on the leaves. The stems are likely to collapse due to the brown and sunken lesions at their bases. It usually affects the leaves, stems and the roots.
For this disease, you’ll observe small yellow leaves that start to wilt. Eventually the tips of the roots change color from white to either black, brown or gray.
All these diseases lead to rotting roots and may require lab tests to find out the right one. Their symptoms occur other signs of overwatering the plant.
Signs of an overwatered peace lily
So how do you know you have overwatered your plant? What does an overwatered peace lily look like?
The peace lily will look like it’s starting to wilt and will discolor with yellow and brown leaves, grow slower than usual, and the roots will start to rot due to fungal infections in soggy conditions.
The symptoms of overwatering your peace lily include the following:
- Brown-edged leaves.
- Black-tipped roots that have a skimpy appearance.
- Brown leaf tips
- Yellowing leaves
- Wilting and drooping peace lily leaves
- Stunted growth
- Black and weak roots
If the plant is diseased, the symptoms of the disease will appear alongside these two signs. The good news is that you can revive the peace lily by following a great recovery plan I have explained below.
How you can heal the overwatered peace lily
After fixing your watering routine, you can heal the peace lily in the following ways:
1. Stop watering it
Already, the soil has too much water and adding more will only worsen the problem. Stopping the watering process prevents this.
2. Treat the diseases
If you observe any other symptoms beyond the ones specific to overwatering, you should have samples of the plant tested to find out which exact disease is affecting the lily. The lab should then recommend the required treatment regime to revive your peace lily.
3. Cut off affected leaves
The affected leaves, which will change color, should be cut off at the base of the stem. If the leaves are only wilted and not affected by a disease, don’t cut them off since they’ll likely recover.
4. Follow a good peace lily care plan
Besides watering issues, check to see whether you’re keeping the plant’s routine in terms of fertilization, humidity, temperature, and sunlight.
These exercises, when performed well, will see your droopy peace lily recover to green, turgid leaves. It may take up to 2 weeks for the plant to recover from this episode.
How to fix and prevent overwatering
The first step in fixing the overwatering problem is changing the watering routine. The plant usually only needs water when its leaves are slightly wilted. Otherwise, normal periodic watering could still be too much for it.
The second step is to make sure the plant’s pot has a drainage hole about midway from the bottom. This way, even if you gave it too much water, the excess amount would simply drain out and leave only the lower part with large amounts. As the roots of the peace lily rarely grow that deep, it won’t be affected.
The third step is to avoid watering your peace lily at night. Your lily is likely to get diseased when watered at night than during the day.
One foolproof way to know when to water the plant is using a water sensor. It’s like a thermometer for the soil but it instead measures the water level. You simply stick its end into the soil and take a reading. Some good soil pH testers also work as moisture meters so you can get one for this purpose.
For the peace lily, the best reading should be around 7. If it goes to around 4, it’s time to water it. If more than 7, you’re giving the plant too much water.
Pro tip: If you don’t have a water sensor, poke your index finger into the soil around the plant up to the second knuckle then pull out some soil. If you can’t make a ball with the soil, it’s too dry and needs watering. If you can make a ball with it but can’t squeeze water from it, then it’s just right. If you can squeeze water from this ball, there’s too much water in it.
If you’re travelling and you’re not sure how long your peace lily will stay without water, I’d recommend you use watering globes that last up to 14 days to keep the spathiphyllum hydrated.
- Dr. Leonard Perry, Horticulture Professor, University of Vermont: Easy Houseplants—The Peace Lily
- David Graper, Horticulture Specialist, SDSU Extension: Care of Peace Lilies
- D. J. Norman, Ph.D, University of Florida IFAS: Diseases of Spathiphyllum
My name is Alex K. Worley. I am a web geek who loves gardening and connecting with nature. I maintain a small backyard organic garden from which I source most of my green food. I hope to help you learn something new about gardening.