Why are your Peace Lily leaves turning yellow and how do you treat it?
In this article, I will go through the different reasons and causes why your peace lily is turning yellow and help you how to determine what’s the cause and how to fix it.
The Peace Lily is a very popular houseplant because of its beauty. Just as importantly, it is an easy plant to care for. In fact, it is perfect for beginners for this reason.
So, when its foliage turns yellow, it can be discouraging or even worrying because there might be something wrong.
To help you diagnose the cause, I’ve put together a list of reasons and what you can do to treat each potential cause.
Reasons Why Your Peace Lily Has Yellow Leaves
Natural Aging of Leaves
Before worrying about your plant having yellow leaves, it is important to understand that the presences of yellow leaves is not necessarily a bad thing.
That’s because it is part of the plant’s natural aging process.
Leaves grow at different times. And older leaves will turn yellow and then drop off. This is the plant’s natural cycle of shedding these leaves.
As such, it is nothing to worry about.
And when you see them, you can just remove the leaves without harming the plant.
Overwatering is the Most Common Cause of Peace Lily Yellow Leaves
However, the yellowing of your peace lily’s leaves can likewise be caused by some underlying problem.
And one of the most serious issues is overwatering.
Overwatering is the number one cause of houseplant death.
That’s because most plant owners think that giving the plant more water is better. But that’s not always the case.
Instead, it depends on the kind of plant you have.
In the case of the peace lily, you only need to water about once a week on average. Watering too frequently will cause wet, soggy and mucky soil which can lead to problems.
This includes yellow leaves, wilting, leaf drop and root rot. In fact, overwatering is the leading cause of yellow leaves.
In general, overwatering is caused by one of 3 reasons.
- Too much water – this happens if you water too often. You want to wait until the top soil feels dry before adding more water.
- Wrong potting mix – soil that holds on to too much moisture will also lead to overwatering. That’s because it retains the moisture you add. Instead, your peace lily does best in well-draining potting soil.
- Lack of drainage – you want to choose pots that have drainage holes at the bottom. This will let the excess moisture that’s drained from the soil out of the pot.
By adjusting your watering frequency, making sure you use light, well-draining soil and pots with drainage, you’ll be able to avoid overwatering.
This is also reduce the chances of yellowing leaves.
Underwatering May Be the Reason Why Peace Lily Leaves are Turning Yellow
Just like overwatering, lack of water can cause leaves to turn yellow. They will likewise wilt.
Although peace lilies will recover quite quickly from lack of water, it is not a good idea to let this happen. That’s because over time, the plant will experience small amounts of damage each time you let it go completely dry.
And these will accumulate eventually causing issues.
As such, try to avoid letting the soil go completely dry especially for extended periods of time.
But how can you tell whether the cause of the yellow leaves is overwatering or underwatering?
The easiest way to determine the exact cause is to feel the soil.
An overwatered peace lily with yellow leaves will be living in wet, mucky soil. Just touch the soil or push your finger into the soil and you’ll instantly feel the moistness and soggy texture.
On the other hand, if the peace lily’s yellow leaves are a result of lack of water, soil will feel very dry.
This will let you know whether to let the plant dry out or add more water.
The Kind of Water You’re Using Can an Issue
Peace lilies are not overly sensitive plants. However, if you use tap water that contains a lot of minerals it can turn the plant’s leaves yellow.
The thing is, different municipalities will add varying amounts of minerals to water.
Peace lilies are sensitive to chlorine.
And often, chlorine and fluoride can be in excess amounts. If this is the case, it can lead to discoloration if you always use tap water.
For this reason rainwater is the best kind of water to use for plants. It is natural and they are used to. Some people also use purified water. Although this can get costly if you want to water your garden using it.
Therefore, if you don’t get a lot of rain in your area, the best solution is to collect tap water and then let it sit at room temperature at least overnight.
This will allow the minerals to evaporate by morning. So by the time you use the water, it will be free of them.
This is a free and easy way to get around high mineral content tap water.
Excess or Lack of Light
Peace lilies are used to partial shade in their natural habitat. This translates to bright, indirect light indoors because homes get much less light due to the ceiling and walls that block out illumination from different directions.
However, one thing makes peace lilies a popular houseplant is they are easy to care for, particularly since they can tolerate low light. This makes it easier to grow them even if you don’t’ get ideal lighting indoors.
That said, like all plants they do need light for photosynthesis. This allows them to create their own food which they use as energy.
Therefore, in lower light conditions the plant will grow smaller and produce less flowers. But its leaves will still be healthy.
The issue comes in in very dim or dark locations.
When there is insufficient light for ample photosynthesis to happen, its leaves will turn yellow or at the very least pale in color. This is a sign telling you to move it somewhere brighter.
Similarly, yellowing leaves can affect peace lilies with too much light.
Direct sun or leaving it under the mid-day sun not only turns its foliage yellow but can put them at risk of scorching and brown markings.
While this damages the leaves, it won’t kill the plant.
So, when you see this happening, move your peace lily somewhere with less intense light.
Temperature or Drafts
The ideal temperature for peace lilies is between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Again, this makes it easy to care for them indoors because we’re most comfortable at these same temperatures.
Thus, most homes maintain these levels.
However, the weather can change drastically during summer or winter. While the plant does not have much of a problem hotter conditions it cannot tolerate anything colder than 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
So if you leave it outside, in the patio, terrace or balcony, its leaves can turn yellow once the temperature drops late in the year.
Indoors, cold drafts, air conditioning and other sudden fluctuations can likewise affect it.
Nutrient Deficiencies Can Lead to Yellow Leaves
Plants need fertilizer in order to get the nutrients they need. And the peace lily is no exception.
While it does not need a lot of plant food, it is important to feed it so it gets the proper minerals it needs.
Since peace lilies are foliage plants, nitrogen is very important for leaf development.
Additionally, a deficiency in iron and magnesium will result in yellow leaves.
Therefore, it is a good idea to use a balanced houseplant fertilizer so it receives the necessary nutrients it needs.
Transplant Shock When Moving or Repotting
Most plants don’t like to be moved from their homes. And when you repot them or transplant them, they will experience stress or sometimes shock.
When this happens, you’ll notice the plant will stop growing and producing new leaves for a while after you’ve repotted it. Its leaves will likewise turn yellow.
In some cases, it will even deteriorate.
This is why the best time to repot is during spring when the plant is actively growing and in its strongest state. This gives it a lot of time to recover and a better chance at recovery as well.
Fortunately, transplant shock is almost always temporary.
So, just give the plant some time and continue to care for it properly while it recovers. Within a week or so, it will begin to start growing again and start producing green foliage again.
Pests are a growers nightmare because of the headache the cause.
While the peace lily is a fairly resilient plant, it seems to attract mealybugs the most among all the bugs.
Pests come around houseplants to suck on their sap.
In doing so, they rob the plant of its nutrients and water.
And this will lead to a yellow leaves, wilting and a weaker plant as the pests turn into an infestation.
Thus, regular inspection is very important. And once you spot any insects, you want to immediately treat the plant.
I like to use water to spray off the bugs. Although you can use neem oil or insecticidal soap spray.
Root rot can happen in many ways. Although overwatering is the main cause, the actual problem that causes the rooting can come from disease.
In the case of the peace lily it is susceptible to fungal infections, namely Phytophthora parasitica and Cylindrocladium spathyphylli. These work in the soil and can cause your plant’s roots to rot.
When this happens, the leaves will turn yellow and the plant will wilt. If the problem is not fixed, it will eventually damage too much of the root system causing plant death.
To get rid of these, you can use fungicides. However, it is often enough to let the soil dry out a bit more between watering. This prevents the fungi from spreading and surviving.
How to Treat, Reduce and Prevent Peace Lily Leaves Turning Yellow
Whenever you see any yellow leaves in your peace lily, it means something is happening and you want to immediate pay attention to the plant and treat it if necessary.
Here’s how to treat, prevent, care and help the plant recover from yellow leaves.
- Don’t worry or stress. The plant is not dead and if there’s a problem, new green leaves will grow back once you’ve fixed the issue.
- Remove the yellow leaves. They will not turn green again even after the plant recovers. Instead, yellow leaves can attract pests and diseases. So, trim them off.
- Figure out the cause of the problem. Go through the list of causes above and eliminate each potential cause one by one.
- Once you’ve found the cause, treat the plant based it the underlying issue. Once you’ve done this it will recover and replace the yellow leaves with green ones.
And to help prevent yellow leaves from happening in the first place, remember a few important things.
- Avoid overwatering your plant
- Don’t let it go completely dry either
- Keep your peace lily in a warm, cozy location where it is away from the cold
- Avoid too much or too little light
- Inspect the plant for pests and diseases regularly
Peace Lily Yellow Leaves FAQ
Should I Remove Yellow Leaves from Peace Lily?
Yes, it is a good idea to remove yellow leaves for a few reasons.
One is to make your plant look healthier and better. More importantly, leaving the yellow leaves on increases the risk of pests and diseases.
Decayed leaves can harbor other pathogens and give them an environment to develop in. Also, pests are very attracted to dead or decayed leaves which means more of them will be coming to attack your plant.
Will Yellow Peace Lily Leaves Turn Green Again?
Unfortunately, not. Leaves don’t have the capacity to recover. Yellow leaves won’t turn green again.
So, the best solution is to remove them and allow the plant to grow new leaves.
That said, there is one rare exception. Hunger.
If the plant ‘s yellow leaves are caused by hunger (lack of nutrients), the leaves can turn green again once it receives enough nitrogen, iron or magnesium (whichever is the cause of the problem).
However, be aware that they won’t recover to the point where they were as greens as they were before.
Thus, it is still a better option to prune off these leaves and let them grow again.
What Nutrient Deficiency Causes Yellow Leaves?
Magnesium, iron, zinc and nitrogen deficiency can each cause leaves of your peace lily to turn yellow. As such, make sure that the fertilizer you use contains these minerals.
Nitrogen is often less of a problem since it is one of the 3 essential minerals included in most fertilizer products. The key is to get enough nitrogen because it is also responsible to foliage development.
This will allow your peace lily to grow optimally.
As for the others, you want to always check the label to make sure since some products don’t contain them.
Are Yellow Leaves A Sign of Overwatering?
Yes, overwatering is the most serious problem that causes yellow leaves. Unfortunately, there’s not way to tell that it is cause because many other things (listed above) can likewise be the culprits.
Therefore, you need to check the soil to see if it is mucky and soggy before determining whether overwatering is in fact the actual source of the problem.
How Do I Get Rid of Yellow Leaves on My Peace Lily?
Pruning them is the best way to get rid of yellow leaves.
You can use a pair or scissors or pruning shears. But make sure to sterilize the blade of your cutting tool before making any cut. This will prevent passing any pathogens to the plant.
If the entire leaf is yellow, you can just trim it off. But if only a section if the leaf if yellow you can reshape the leaf by just cutting off the affected area.
Do Yellow Leaves Mean Dead?
Yellow leaves means the leaf is decaying and on its way out. So, you want to remove it so that it won’t attract pests or harbor disease.
However, by no means does yellow leaves indicate your plant is dead. Instead, it is your peace lily’s way of telling you that something is probably wrong. And that you should investigate and fix the problem.
Depending on what the cause is, it can be a simple issue or something more serious.
A peace lily’s leaves turning yellow means something is happening to your plant. It may be nothing or it could be something. But it is your plant telling you to do a deeper examination to check.
Since there are many causes to yellow leaves in peace lilies, the treatment will vary.
But in all cases, you want to immediately address whatever the issue is.