Peace lilies are well loved houseplants because they give you a combination of gorgeous flowers and beautiful leaves.
However, this lovely plant is susceptible to too much moisture. And you want to avoid an overwatered peace lily plant at all costs.
Overwatering is a common problem that can cause the plant to lose its stunning looks.
As such, it is important to know the signs of peace lily overwatering and how to treat this problem.
What are the signs of an overwatered peace lily? Yellow leaves are one of the most common signs of overwatering in peace lilies.
You’ll see the plant droop and later develop brown leaves as well. Leaf spot diseases are likely to happen as well due to the damp conditions. And when overwatering persists, root rot can develop as well.
The most common reasons for an overwatered peace lily are watering too often, overpotting, poor soil or pot drainage.
Peace Lily Overwatering Signs & Symptoms
Wet, Mucky Soil
If you notice signs of overwatering in your peace lily, one quick way to verify your suspicions is to feel the soil.
An overwatered peace lily will have wet, soggy soil.
Sometimes, you may even see small pockets of water on the surface.
To make sure, sink your index finger as deep as you can into the soil. If everything feels well down there, then there’s a good chance that the plant is overwatered.
Yellow leaves are a common sign of an overwatered peace lily. This is one of the first signs you’ll see.
This usually affects the lower leaves which are older and larger.
Note that yellow leaves may mean other problems as well.
For example, older leaves naturally turn yellow with age. However, in that case, you’ll only see 1 or 2 turn yellow at a time. And it won’t happen often or all the time.
With an overwatered peace lily, you’ll see many leaves turn yellow at the same time.
And they’ll keep increasing as long as the plant is experiencing overwatering.
So, while it is a helpful symptom, it is not a good idea to use to confirm that overwatering is indeed the problem.
You’ll need to match it with some of the other signs of overwatering before making a definitive decision.
Another common symptoms of peace lily overwatering is blisters on the leaves and edema.
In general, peace lilies don’t have very fleshy leaves like succulents. As such, they should not puff up or look thick in any way.
But if you see the leaves look weird and contain water blisters, then this is a warning sign.
Water blisters and edema occur when the plant experiences continued overwatering. This causes it to take excess moisture which is more than what it needs or wants.
And some of this moisture build up in the leaves and stems.
Unfortunately, they’ll look weird and abnormal since the plant is not designed to store that much water.
Brown Leaf Edges and Tips
Brown leaves that begin at the tips and edges is a later sign of peace lily overwatering.
When this happens, it is a sign that the roots are now being compromised.
This also means that excess watering has been happening for a while and continues to happen. So, at this point the roots are under stress.
In most cases, this is due to the excess water pushing out the oxygen from the air pockets in the soil.
And in doing so, the roots are not suffocating because they are unable to breathe.
This results in brown leaf tips and edges.
And after a while, if the excess moisture does not drain or dry, you’ll see the browning spread inward before covering the entire leaf.
As this persists, more and more leaves will turn brown giving you a plant with yellow and brown foliage.
Brown, Yellow or Black Spots on Leaves
Another side effect of too much moisture is the damp environment it causes.
This makes it conducive for fungal and bacterial diseases to develop.
And these diseases will present as spots on leaves.
You may see, brown, yellow or even black spots. In fact, they can come in different colors. And the colors will indicate what kind of leaf spot infection it is.
This is when bad turns to worse.
Root rot is when the suffocating roots cannot stand it anymore. And they eventually die due to suffocation as they are deprived of oxygen for too long by the excess amount of water.
This is why it is never a good thing to drown the plant with water.
Root rot turns healthy, white roots into black or brown, fragile and smelly roots.
When you unpot your plant and see the latter, it means some of the roots have rotted.
Common Causes of Peace Lily Overwatering
Keep in mind that an overwatered peace lily plant can happen for different reasons. In all of these situations, the soil ends up waterlogged and filled with too much moisture.
More importantly, this state of excess water will persist for a prolonged period of time.
And the longer it persists, the more problems and dangerous it becomes for your peace lily.
Watering Too Often
Watering too frequently is the most common cause. And this happens because many people believe that more water is better for plants.
There’s also the misconception that plants need to watered everyday or every other day.
Unfortunately, this is not the case.
And depending on the kind of plant you have it may only need watering once week or sometimes even less.
In the case of peace lilies, wait until the top half of the soil has dried before you add watering. Waiting until the upper 50% has dried prevents you from watering too often.
In doing so, it allows you avoid overwatering the plant.
Kind of Soil
Once you’ve poured water onto the soil to hydrate the plant, it is now up to the soil on what happens.
This is why the kind of soil you use is very important.
Peace lilies need a well-draining medium. As such, it should be able to store some moisture but also quickly get rid of excess water as well.
In doing so, it prevents the roots from sitting in water for prolonged periods of time.
If you use soil that’s too heavy, the plant becomes prone to overwatering regardless of whether you use the right watering schedule.
That’s because heavy soils will hold on to the water.
In this case, it will be too much for the roots of the peace lily to handle.
As a result, the plant will struggle as its roots end up in too much moisture for very long periods of time.
So, in this case, it is the waterlogged soil that causes the overwatering.
If you use the right kind soil and water your peace lily correctly, the next thing to consider the pot drainage.
This refers to the holes at the bottom of the pot.
Most pots have these drainage holes. But others do not.
Drainage holes are very important because once the excess moisture drains from the soil it will either build up at the bottom of the container (if there are no holes) or drip out of the holes.
The latter is what you want.
That’s because the former will mean that the soil will end up wet.
And the more water that accumulates at the bottom of the pot, the more water the roots will end up swimming in.
Thus, you’ll end up with waterlogged soil once again.
Size the Pot
A more hidden danger is overpotting.
Overpotting refers to use a pot that is larger than what the plant needs.
Ideally, choose a pot that is 2 inches wider than the size of the root ball. That’s it!
This will give the root system some room to grow. And when they’ve outgrown it, you can repot the plant to the next bigger sized pot.
The reason why it is not a good idea to use an oversized pot or just pot sizes when you repot is it increases the risk of overwatering.
An oversized pot means lots of excess space between the edges of the pot and the root system. This results in using more soil volume to fill the pot.
When you water the soil, there will be lots more water to fill the extra space.
This puts the roots of your peace lily is situation where it can easily drown.
More water also means it takes much longer for the soil to dry or drain. So, the roots end up sitting in tons of water for prolonged periods of time.
Again, this promotes waterlogging and overwatering.
Other Related Posts
- Peace Lily Leaves Turning Black (And How to Fix it)
- Why Are My Peace Lily Flowers Turning Brown?
- Peace Lily Plant Care – How to Grow Peace Lily Plants
- Peace Lily Drooping: Causes & How to Revive a Wilting Peace Lily
- Peace Lily Leaves Turning Yellow – 10 Causes, Treatment & FAQs
- Spathiphyllum Domino Peace Lily Care (Variegated Peace Lily)
How to Save Overwatered Peace Lily Plant
The most important part of this article for most gardeners is how to save an overwatered peace lily plant.
Here, time is of the essence. So, you don’t want to take your time or just let the plant sit in water while you tend to other things for the next few days.
Note that not all overwatered peace lilies will have root rot.
And the earlier you detect the problem and treat it, the less likely that root rot will have set it. This is the ideal situation.
That’s because once root rot happens, you’re pretty much in a race against time.
The larger the portion of the root system gets rotten, the lower the likelihoods you’ll be able to save your peace lily.
That said, here’s how to save and revive a peace lily suffering from overwatering.
Begin by taking the peace lily out of the pot.
Then, check the roots. You’ll almost immediately be able to tell whether or not there is root rot just by taking a whiff of the root ball.
Rotten roots have a funky stink to them.
Additionally, they’ll be brown or black and feel soft and mushy.
On the other hand, healthy roots are white and firm in texture. But they are flexible and pliable.
In the best case scenario, there is no root rot. This means you can help the plant dry by aerating the soil and draining any excess liquid in the pot. This will allow it to begin recovery.
Make sure to adjust your watering routine to prevent overwatering from happening again.
If there is root rot, it may be only a few roots have rotted, some roots have rotted or lots have rotted.
The worst case scenario is that all the roots have rotted or almost all of them have. In this case, there’s very little chance of saving the peace lily.
And your best course of action is to propagate the plant.
This way, you still have a beautiful peace lily in case the mother plant does not make it.
If only a smaller portion of the root system has rotted, then the peace lily is savable.
Here, remove all the soil from the root system and carefully discard them in the trash. Then, sterilize a pair of scissors or pruning shears with rubbing alcohol.
Trim off all the rotten roots.
Don’t cut or get any of the healthy ones. You want as many healthy roots as possible left.
Rinse the root system in running water and soak it in fungicide solution or hydrogen peroxide solution. This will eliminate any possible fungal pathogens in case that was what caused the root rot.
Let the root system dry on newspapers.
This will take a few hours. And in the meantime, throw all the remaining potting mix in the trash. Don’t let the soil come into contact with other plants.
Make sure to disinfect the pot as well just in case it contains any of the pathogens.
Finally, find a new pot.
This will likely be smaller than the previous containers since you pruned some roots. To size it, add 2 inches to the diameter of the root system of the plant. That’s the size of the pot to get.
The pot should also have drainage holes at the bottom.
You’ll also need fresh, dry, well-draining potting mix.
Once the roots have dried, pot up your peace lily into the new pot with the dry potting mix.
Don’t water it for a few days to let the plant recover faster.