How to Revive a Peace Lily Plant

Peace lilies are very tolerant to different conditions, but problems can still occur. How can you revive your plant?

It can happen to even the most seasoned houseplant parent. A busy schedule with no time to water, a window left open in winter, or a decorative outer pot that fills with draining water, and your lovely peace lily is ruined.

Wilted, yellow leaves, dried brown spathes or leaves lying flat on the surface of hard-as-rock soil demand immediate attention. You may be wondering if your plant can be saved. In many cases, the answer is yes.

Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum) are native to South American rain forests, where they thrive in rich, moist soil on the forest floor. When we bring them into our homes, they need similar conditions: moist, well-draining soil, high humidity, and bright, indirect light. If these conditions are not met, peace lilies will wilt or their leaves will turn yellow, brown, or black.

Figure out why your peace lily is discolored Once you have identified the problem, here is what to do to revive your peace lily.

yellowing and wilting leaves of a lily plant


An underwatered peace lily wilts. The leaves can sometimes be found lying flat on top of the soil. Act quickly!

Soaking the soil with a deep watering or submerging the entire pot in a bucket of room temperature water for 30 minutes will revive your plant. It could take several hours for it to recover.

When your plant has recovered, recheck the soil moisture. All of that water is now in the plant’s cells, and the soil can quickly dry out again.

Take care not to overwater (more on that below). When a spathiphyllum is repeatedly submerged, its overall health suffers, making it more vulnerable to insect and disease problems.

If your spathe frequently wilts, it may be time to repot it.

wilting and diseased indoor plants


On the other hand, overwatering can cause spathiphyllums to wilt. Wet soil can cause root rot, which will eventually kill your plant. Empty drainage saucers and make sure there is no standing water in your plant’s grow pot if it is inside a decorative pot.

A severe overwatering may necessitate quickly drying out your plant. Take it out of the pot and lay it on several layers of newspaper (you might want to do this in the bathtub or outside in a shady spot). The excess water will be absorbed by the newspaper.

Inspect the roots for rot before reintroducing the plant to the pot. Healthy roots are firm and white, with an earthy odor. Rotten roots are black or brown in color and emit a foul odor. Remove the damaged roots and repot your spathe in new potting soil.

Discolored Leaves

Unless you have a variegated cultivar, healthy spathiphyllum leaves are a deep glossy green. Black leaves indicate cold damage, while yellow or brown leaves can be caused by natural aging, water stress, low humidity, or sunburn. These issues can also result in brown tips and edges. Again, our article on peace lily discoloration can help you figure out what’s causing it.

Completely discolored leaves can be trimmed off as close to the plant’s base as possible. If there is only minor discoloration, leave the leaves on the plant until new growth appears. Trim off the damaged part of the leaf for aesthetic purposes. Your spathiphyllum requires its leaves, even if they are slightly damaged, in order to repair itself.

browning tips of leaves of a houseplant

Brown Flowers

Spathiphyllum “flowers” are composed of a spathe (a modified leaf) wrapped around a spadix (the flower structure). Because all flowers die, when these flower structures turn brown, simply cut them off as low as you can reach.

browning of lily flowers sign of disease


Please do not fertilize your peace lily when it is in distress! Fertilizing a sick plant increases its stress. Spathiphyllums require very little fertilizer, so a lack of fertilization is rarely an issue.

After you’ve addressed any light, temperature, and watering issues, as well as removed any dead leaves and flower structures, the best “cure” for your sick spathiphyllum is to simply leave it alone. Too many changes can lead to problems persisting or worsening.

Keep in mind that peace lilies grow slowly. It could take several weeks before you notice new growth and recovery.

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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