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Even before I was a plant parent, I knew that yellowing leaves were never a sign of good health. If anything, they indicated that something was not right.
And in my gardening years, I have come to associate yellowing leaves with overwatering and root rot.
In most cases, I am usually right on the money – But in some, this assumption comes up short. That’s why I advocate that people research all possible reasons their plants may be turning yellow before fixing the issue.
So, what causes your peace lily to be turning yellowing? After all, these are some of the easiest plants to care for. It’s quite hard to go wrong with their care.
Even so, your peace lily will be turning yellow due to overwatering, underwatering, exposure to direct sun and drafts, and transplant stress which can harm the plant.
Luckily, fixing yellowing resulting from these problems is usually easy.
In this short guide, I break down how you can tell what’s causing your peace lily to be turning yellow – and how you can solve it. Don’t despair – the answer to your concern lies below!
Why Is Your Peace Lily Turning Yellow?
Browning, yellowing, spotting, you name it – these changes are often disheartening to gardeners. You can’t help but wonder where you went wrong and how you can undo the harm.
With yellowing, the causes are not usually so hard to determine. Peruse the following known culprits and determine which one could be giving your plant a hard time:
Isn’t it funny how most of our plant problems result from human-made problems? Take the example of water.
Like I said earlier, with your peace lily turning yellow, it often signals that the plant is getting too much water. So, how much is too much for the peace lily?
These plants prefer getting watered only when the top inch of soil is dry. If you water them before that happens, the soil retains too much moisture.
And when you space out the watering too much, they end up dehydrated. Let’s cover these possibilities and what you can do about them.
The Overwatered Peace Lily
Overwatering can result from various causes. These include:
1) Watering your Plant More Often than is Necessary.
Generally, your plant will only need water when its top inch of soil is dry. At this point, the roots will need more water to absorb nutrients from the soil.
But if you keep watering the plant even before it has used what’s in the soil, its roots will sit in water. And that will drown them, causing root rot which damages the plant’s roots and hampers the uptake of nutrients.
That’s when you will start noticing yellowing in the leaves. And if you do not act fast, the root rot will attract fungal diseases, creating an unconducive growing environment.
Moreover, root damage will continue until the plant finally dies, which can happen in days or weeks.
2) Using a Poor Choice of a Potting Mix
Some potting mixes retain too much moisture because they have poor aeration. The water takes up air spaces, robbing the plant of oxygen and creating an ideal environment for fungal diseases.
3) Using a Pot with Minimal Drainage Holes
If a pot does not have adequate exit holes for excess water, the moisture will remain in the soil.
4) Placing the Pot in a Spot with Low Light
To make food, the peace lily needs water, light, and nutrients. And without adequate light, it will not have much use for water. So, its roots will sit in water for more time than is necessary.
So, how can you fix any of these issues?
1) Water your plant only when the top layer of soil is dry
To be sure, dig an inch into the soil using your finger and feel the earth. If you are unsure, do not water the plant until you feel that the top inch of soil is dry.
You need to cut back on watering the plant in the colder months as it won’t need as much water then.
If you face challenges with overwatering, consider getting a moisture meter. It helps you know when the soil has water and when it needs water.
2) Use the right potting mix for the peace lily
It prefers well-draining and nutrient-rich soil with a lot of organic matter. Most houseplant mixes would thus be suitable for this plant.
3) Opt for a pot that can wick away excess moisture and ensure the pot has enough drainage holes.
4) Adhere to the lighting guidelines I have covered under lighting issues.
If overwatering is not the issue, perhaps your peace lily needs more water. Let’s find out:
The Underwatered Peace Lily
Water is essential to plant activities, including photosynthesis. Moreover, plants need to replace the moisture lost during transpiration and evaporation. And when they do not have enough of it, they respond by:
- Exhibiting slow or stunted growth,
- Yellowing of leaves, and
- Falling of leaves.
Your peace lily turning yellow often comes about when the peace lily goes for prolonged periods without water. Otherwise, the plant droops a little and comes back to life after you water it the next time. So, what can cause underwatering?
- Watering the plant infrequently, and
- Using a highly draining potting mix.
Fixing these underwatering issues is quite easy. Take what we covered under overwatering and do the same thing. For example, if you water the plant irregularly, you will need to create a more regular routine.
And only water the plant when its top inch of soil is dry. If you’re afraid of overwatering the plant, get a moisture gauge, and you should be on the safe side.
Also, investigate the water retention rate in the potting mix. The soil could be holding on to very little moisture, thus dehydrating the plant.
You should also consider moving the plant away from direct heat and light as these trigger higher evaporation rates.
If you’re enjoying this article, check out our article on why are my peace lily flowers turning green.
Peace lilies grow in forests where they receive dappled light from above. They barely get direct sunshine because the taller species block them from the sun.
That’s why they do well even in homes and offices that don’t get much light. But could you be taking this low-light adaptation a bit too far?
The Exposed Peace Lily
The peace lily does not get much sun exposure in the wild. So, exposing it to direct sunlight does not work in its favor. If anything, it results in:
- Drooping and curling due to dehydration,
- Foliage damage in the way of brown spots and streaks, and
- Yellowing of leaves.
Yellowing, browning, and streaking are irreversible, and such leaves cannot photosynthesize. To save the plant, you need to move it to a spot with bright and indirect light.
You can even move it to a spot with medium or low indirect light. But be careful with shading too much lest you encounter the next issue.
The Overshaded Peace Lily
While the peace lily enjoys some protection from bright sunshine, it does not take too well to being shaded for prolonged hours.
In such conditions, it cannot make food and can thus not develop green color in its foliage. Its leaves appear pale or yellow.
However, this is not a common issue with the peace lily. You are more likely to notice yellowing in an exposed lily than in a shaded one. But this issue is worth a thought.
For more on light issues, check out our article on the light requirements for a peace lily.
The peace lily grows hidden among other plants. Thus, the minute you leave it exposed to the elements, it might react harshly. Below are some of the conditions that can trigger such a reaction:
- Exposing it to cold drafts,
- Leaving it near hot drafts,
- Placing the plant outside its ideal temperature range.
The plant’s leaves can yellow, brown, and even curl in these cases. The peace lily can also experience stunted growth because of such exposure.
Sheltering the Peace Lily
Dealing with temperature fluctuations is quite easy. All you need is to:
- Observe the 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit range. Anything outside this range will stress the plant, resulting in yellowing,
- Placing the plant away from windows, doors, air conditioning units, and other sources of cold drafts, especially in the winter,
- Locating the plant away from heating vents, burners, and any other heat sources. In the warmer months, you may need to move the plant to cooler rooms in the home to avoid heat exposure. Keep in mind that too much heat can cause dehydration.
That’s all it takes.
You may also like: What is the ideal humidity for a peace lily
Whenever you repot or move your peace lily, you will need to give it time to adjust to its new environment. And during that time, its leaves can start yellowing.
To avoid stressing the plant too much, schedule repotting in the spring or summer when its growth is optimal. Then ensure that it gets all its essential needs (water, light, and temperature), and it will bounce back after a few days.
Sometimes, we are so focused on the aesthetic value that even what is natural looks like a defect. Peace lilies also go through plant lifecycles.
At some point, their foliage will turn yellow as they dry out before falling off the plant. So, how can you tell that the yellowing is part of the lifecycle?
Such yellow leaves will be mature and will be near the end of their lives. However, if the yellow leaves are not mature, that’s a sign that the plant is in distress.
What Can You Do About Aging?
You can’t stop your peace lily leaves from growing old, yellowing, and falling off the plant. Thus, you can sit back and allow nature to take its course.
But if the yellowing bothers you, pruning is always an option. I have covered how you can do this in a later section.
You may also like: Should you give your peace lilies coffee grounds
Can Yellow Peace Lily Leaves Be Restored to Healthy Leaves?
How great would it be if you could restore the yellowing leaves to their natural state?
Unfortunately, that is not possible. Once the leaves have started yellowing, there is nothing you can do to reverse the process.
The best thing you can do is prune them so the plant does not spend its food on them anymore. That allows it to focus on developing new and healthy leaves.
And because you will have already dealt with the underlying issue, the resultant leaves will not have the same issue, save for the aging ones.
How can you prune your yellowing peace lily leaves to make room for the new ones? Let’s find out:
Should I Cut the Yellow Leaves Off of My Peace Lily?
Some people think that the best way to deal with leaves turning yellow on your peace lily is to throw the entire plant out. But unless it has a severe pest infestation threatening other houseplants, that is not the solution.
Peace lilies sprout new leaves fast, and once you have dealt with what’s causing the yellowing, the plant will be back to good health.
But, of course, you will want to get rid of the yellow leaves, which are an eyesore. And here’s how you do it:
- Start by disinfecting the cutting tool you will use to cut off the damaged leaves. Using an unsterilized tool spreads germs that can infect the plant at the incisions.
- Cut off the yellow leaves along the stem, ensuring that you get a clean cut. And if you come across any diseased or shrivelled leaves, get rid of them too, so you end up with a healthy plant. Don’t forget to investigate the source of the shrivelling and diseases, as they won’t go away just because you cut off the leaves.
I should add that this step is optional. You can as well leave the yellowing leaves on the plant.
However, doing so forces the plant to spend its energy on healing the damaged foliage. And this robs it of the energy to make more new leaves. You can make its work easier by cutting off the damaged leaves.
Did you narrow down on the cause of your yellowing leaves? Prevention is always the best cure.
So, once you have fixed the yellowing issue, focus on providing the peace lily with optimal general care. It’s unlikely for the problem to reoccur if you cover your bases. Happy Gardening!
Before you go, here are some more related articles I encourage you to read below to help solve more of your gardening issues: