The peace lily (Spathiphyllum species) is a relatively small evergreen plant that grows on the floor of tropical rainforests. It thrives in humid indoor conditions with bright indirect light and constantly moist soil. However, your peace lily’s leaves will turn yellow, brown, and droopy when something isn’t right.
What causes yellow peace lily leaves, and how do you fix the problem?
The main reasons for yellow peace lily leaves are overwatering, insufficient light and nutrients, and aging. Prune the damaged leaves, repot the plant and then place it where it will receive bright indirect light. Also, feed your peace lily with a balanced organic fertilizer to stop leaves from yellowing.
Aging leaves also turn yellow and drop off naturally, allowing new foliage to emerge. However, ensure you diagnose and treat the actual cause of leaf discoloration in your plant.
Causes and fixes for yellow peace lily leaves
Yellow foliage is unsightly and can point to an underlying problem in the plant. In most cases, it is a sign of improper care, typically watering, fertilizer, or light problems.
Here’s how to troubleshoot and fix yellowing foliage in peace lilies:
|Reason for yellowing||Best fix|
|Insufficient light||Provide bright indirect light near an east-facing window.|
|Overwatering||Let the pot drain out; water when the soil dries out.|
|Nutrient deficiency||Apply a 20-20-20 organic soluble fertilizer.|
|Too much light||Move the plant under shade.|
|Old foliage||Prune old yellow leaves at the base of the plant.|
1. Insufficient light
Yellowing leaves indicate your peace lily isn’t getting enough light. The leaves will gradually go from pale yellow to yellow if the plant sits in extremely low light conditions for prolonged periods.
Insufficient light causes leaf chlorosis because the plant is unable to photosynthesize adequately in low light conditions.
It is likely that:
- You’ve placed your plant in a dark room with no windows or
- The peace lily is too far from the window.
Peace lilies prefer medium to bright indirect sunlight. Place the plant near an east-facing window or 2-3 meters from a north-facing window so that it can receive 4-6 hours of indirect light. This will stop the leaves from turning yellow.
2. Too much water
Excessive watering leaves your peace lily sitting in soggy soil. In such conditions, the plant’s roots suffocate and cannot absorb water, nutrients, and oxygen for healthy foliage. The result is drooping and yellowing leaves that also turn brown at the tips and edges.
Overwatering, poorly draining soil mix, and lack of drainage holes in the pot can all lead to yellowing foliage from sogginess. Your peace lily may increasingly become difficult to save if you leave it sitting in waterlogged soil for too long.
Peace lily plants prefer consistently moist soil to thrive. Repot the plant in a well-draining soil mix and then water it only when the soil dries out, preferably once a week. Also, ensure the pot has drainage holes at the bottom for excess water to drain out of the soil.
Pro tip: The goal is to keep the soil moist at all times. I recommend using a soil moisture meter or simply pushing your index finger knuckle down into the soil to check for moisture. If the finger comes up wet, you’re giving your plant too much water.
3. Root rot disease
The peace lily is prone to the fungi Phytophthora parasitica and Cylindrocladium spathiphyllum. Wet soil conditions lead to yellowing and drooping peace lily leaves.
The lower leaves are usually the most affected as they’re closer to the roots and soil than the upper leaves.
- Remove the peace lily with yellow leaves from its pot.
- Cut off the rotting roots.
- Treat the remaining roots with a plant fungicide.
- Clean and sterilize the pot with a weak hydrogen peroxide solution.
- Replant your peace lily in a fresh potting mix.
Read more about root rot in peace lilies here.
4. High alkalinity
Peace lilies prefer slightly acidic soils (pH 5.5 -6.0) and will struggle to absorb nutrients from the soil if it is too alkaline. This leads to leaf chlorosis that manifests as yellow streaks along the veins.
The best fix is to use a soil pH test kit to determine the pH of the soil. If it is too alkaline, repot your peace lily in the right soil mix. You can add a few coffee grounds or pine needles to help acidify the soil.
5. Lack of nutrients
Peace lilies are not heavy feeders but will exhibit stunted growth, leaf chlorosis (yellowing), failure to bloom, and general ill-health when they lack nutrients.
The plant needs nitrogen for healthy, green blooms, potassium for proper water movement in the cells, and phosphorus for root development. A deficiency in these nutrients can lead to deformities and leaves turning yellow.
Yellowing of the leaves with the veins remaining green is a sign of magnesium and iron deficiency.
Feed your peace lily with a balanced 20-20-20 organic fertilizer to stop the leaves from yellowing and promote growth and flowering. I recommend a soluble fertilizer as it drains with water easily and will not burn the plant’s roots.
Try MiracleGro Indoor Plant Food to heal your peace lily.
6. Plant stress
Here are common stressors that can also lead to the yellowing of peace lily leaves:
- Extreme temperature changes: High temperatures above 85 or extreme cold (below 40) affect the foliage of your peace lily. Protect the plant from cold drafts in winter.
- Transplant shock: Allow the plant a few days in low light and moist soil to recover and revive.
If you just bought your peace lily, it is probably adjusting to the new environment. The wilting and yellowing will go away soon enough.
7. Aging leaves
Like all plants, some leaves get old and need to be shed off by the peace lily. If you’re sure of getting the conditions for the plant right and still see yellowing leaves, it’ll be a sign of old age. Such leaves will simply fall off, so you shouldn’t worry about them.
It is a natural process.
Should you cut off yellow peace lily leaves?
Yellow peace lily leaves should be pruned to allow the plant to use energy on new foliage and blooms. Pruning also keeps the plant looking green and healthy.
You can cut off the whole leaf if it is beyond salvation or takes longer to heal. For leaves with yellow edges, trim off the affected areas.
To cut off the old yellow leaves, follow them all the way to the base of the stem and cut them off from there.