How to Tell If You Overwatered Your Peace Lily


The right amount of water is crucial to allowing your peace lily to thrive. How can you tell if you’ve overwatered?
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The peace lily belongs to the genus Spathiphyllum, which contains 40 species. Only a few of them are known as Spath or peace lilies.

These evergreen herbaceous perennial plants require little light and water to thrive, making them an excellent houseplant for beginners.

However, just because they don’t require a lot of water doesn’t mean they aren’t picky about how much moisture they need. Overwatering is the most common cause of gardener-caused peace lily death.

Shiny leaves of a houseplant

Signs of an Overwatered Peace Lily

Here are a few tell-tale signs that your peace lily is overwatered:

  • The potting mix is damp or mushy (even a couple of days after watering).
  • The leaves, beginning with the lowest ones, start turning yellow.
  • Your peace lily droops or wilts, and it does not improve even after watering. Furthermore, unlike a Spathiphyllum that has been submerged, the leaves will not feel dry or crispy.
  • Leaf edema causes characteristic wart-like white, brown, or tan blisters.
  • The leaves start to turn brown or develop black or brown splotches.
  • The leaves begin to curl.
  • You find moisture-loving pests, such as fungus gnats, in the potting soil.
  • You notice symptoms of root rot: brown spots with a yellow halo.
  • You have rotten potting soil with a foul odor.
  • There is only slow or obstructed growth.
  • The lily’s stem base feels mushy.
  • The plants’ flowers and leaves are falling to the ground.

Some symptoms, such as falling, curling, withering, discoloring, and drooping peace lily leaves, may signal that there are other problems. As a result, it is vital to inspect the soil mix for dampness or moisture, as well as root rot.

A beautiful flowering white lilies in a medium sized pot

Why Too Much Moisture Causes an Issue

The primary cause of fungal infections in potted plants is too much water. The earliest indicators of root rot will be brown to black root tips, altered texture, and oozing sap. The good news is that overwatering symptoms in peace lilies can be reversed if recognized and handled early.

There are several reasons why overwatering is so dangerous to peace lilies:

The Root Is Suffocated

One of the leading causes of peace lily death is a lack of oxygen. To survive, the peace lily, like all living things, needs oxygen. It is unable to breathe or absorb nutrients from the soil when there is too much water. 

Nutrients Are Washed Away

Another issue is that excessive watering washes away micronutrients, potassium, nitrogen, and other minerals. Furthermore, they can no longer be absorbed by the roots.

Infection Caused by Fungus

When the health of your peace lily deteriorates due to a weak root system, it becomes extremely susceptible to infections. Fungi induce root rot in houseplants in various ways.

These include:

  • Cylindrocladium
  • Rhiczoctonia
  • Phythophthora
  • Pythium
A beautiful peace lily house plant

How to Save an Overwatered Plant

Knowing how to revive a potted plant can be useful when all hope appears to be lost. Keep in mind, however, that the sooner you act to restore your peace flower, the more likely it will return to its original state.

Here’s a step-by-step tutorial to fixing your peace lily:

  1. Take the peace lily out of its container.
  2. If the roots are loose and brown rather than light and solid, and if the substrate is extremely damp and stinks, remove all dead areas with a clean knife. Leave only healthy roots.
  3. Thoroughly clean the remaining roots under running water.
  4. Apply activated carbon or cinnamon to the root’s sliced parts.
  5. Apply a moderate fungicide or potassium permanganate solution to the roots. Allow the plant to dry for 2 to 3 hours.
  6. Place the lily in a container with water and a root development stimulant. Change the water regularly.
  7. After the root system has been established, fill a pot halfway with fresh soil mix and add some activated charcoal. This will prevent the peace lily root from becoming infected after transplanting it. Check to make sure the drainage holes in the pot are functional.
  8. Place the peace lily somewhere bright but out of direct sunlight. After that, just water it until the soil mix is dry.
  9. After 2 to 3 days, or when the new soil dries out, irrigate the transplanted peace lily with water.
Alaine Connolly
Alaine has been working way too hard in horticulture since 1992, beautifying golf courses, resorts, and hotels. She is a part time landscape designer who works full time caring for a 28,000 square foot public garden. At home, she maintains her own 400 square feet plot. Alaine lives in northern Illinois - zone 5b.
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