Red peace lilies are a very common houseplant because they’re beautiful and very easy to grow and maintain. At times, this plant can be very temperamental, but once you know how to care for them, a red peace lily makes a fantastic addition to any collection of houseplants. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about giving the red peace lily the perfect environment to thrive in your home.
About Red Peace Lilies
Peace lilies are an evergreen, tropical plant that thrives on the floor of the forest, and this is where they get consistent humidity and moisture with dappled sunlight. Replicating these conditions inside your home is the key to getting your red peace lily to be healthy and happy. With access to enough light, this plant will produce red to off-red flowers in the early summer months, and they continue to bloom throughout the year.
Most household red peace lilies will get up to 16 inches tall at most, but you can find bigger cultivars that thrive outdoors and get up to six feet high. This isn’t a cold-hardy plant as it’s tropical, so you can only grow it outdoors if you live in humid, warm climates in zones 10 to 12.
This bright tropical plant will show a pop of color when it blooms in your home, and it contrasts nicely with the waxy foliage.
Red Peace Lily – Quick Overview
|Bloom Time:||Spring and throughout the year|
|Botanical Name:||Spathiphyllum wallisii|
|Common Name:||Red peace lily|
|Flower Color:||Red and off-red|
|Hardiness Zones:||10 to 12|
|Mature Size:||One to three feet indoors and six feet outdoors|
|Native To:||Asia and Central America|
|Plant Type:||Flowering tropical|
|Soil Type:||Well-drained by moist|
|Sun Exposure:||Partial shade|
|Toxicity:||Toxic to humans, dogs, and cats|
Where to Grow Red Peace Lilies
Red peace lilies would practically do well shoved into a closet, but this doesn’t mean you should put them there. When you grow them in lower lighting conditions, they will rarely bloom. So, if you only want foliage instead of the pretty flowers, you can put it in a dimmer corner with your other low light houseplants.
However, if you want your red peace lily to bloom, you want to put it in a space where it’ll get indirect but bright light. Just make sure there are no drafts in this area as they’re very sensitive to colder temperatures since they’re a tropical plant.
Even though most people grow the red peace lily as a houseplant, you can grow them outside in zones 10 to 12 by putting them in a shaded spot where they get a lot of ambient light. The soil should be slightly and consistently moist.
- HappyDIYHomeTip: Peace lilies of any color have a compound that can cause your tongue to swell or you to vomit if you eat it. So, you want to keep it away from pets and kids.
As luck would have it, the red peace lily doesn’t require a huge amount of maintenance. You shouldn’t have to have nutritional supplements or fertilizers to grow a thriving, healthy red peace lily. However, if you choose to add fertilizer because you want more vibrant and bigger blooms, you want to be careful to not fertilize it too much because this is a very sensitive plant. Use a 20-20-20 house plant fertilizer at one quarter to one half of the recommended strength. Apply your fertilizer once a month in the spring and summer during the active growing season.
- HappyDIYHome Tip: Green flowers are a sign that there is too much fertilizer. If your plants show this symptom, you want to cut the fertilizer amount in half for the next growing season.
This plant prefers medium or a moderate amount of light, and they need exposure to produce the brilliant red flowers. Placing it near but not on a window is good. If the light is too low, your plant will grow very slowly and not produce flowers. The red peace lily is epiphytic, just like bromeliads and orchids. So, they tend to grow under the cover of other plants. If the light is too strong, the plant will burn.
Try placing your plant by a bright west or east-facing window. Adding a sheer curtain to the window will help the plant get the bright but indirect light it needs without being harsh enough to burn the leaves. Try to remember to move the plant as the light changes with the seasons.
The lighting conditions will dictate whether or not your red peace lily blooms. It needs bright but indirect light to bloom.
Generally speaking, red peace lilies love to be in a loose, rich potting soil mix that has a lot of organic matter. Since these plants are native to tropical canopy conditions where the soil gets layered with broken down plant material, you’ll want to source soil that mimics this. Also, this plant is very sensitive to soil that is too damp, so you want to get a mix that drains very well and put it in a clay or terracotta planter that can pull the excess moisture away from the plant.
Temperature and Humidity
This plant loves moist warmth, so you want to avoid cold drafts and temperatures that dip below 55° Fahrenheit. This plant will die quickly if you expose it to colder temperatures for a prolonged period. The ideal temperature range for the red peace lily starts at 65°F and goes to 80°F. Spritz your plant’s leaves each week with distilled or softened water throughout the spring and summer growing seasons.
You’ll need to keep the soil consistently moist, but you shouldn’t leave your plant sitting in standing water. Whenever the top inch or so of soil dries out, you want to water the plant until the excess starts to drain out the bottom of the planter. When it stops draining, set it back on the saucer.
Your red peace lily won’t turn into a drama queen unless you forget the water. If you do, one day your plant will look stunning, and the next day it’ll flop over the edges of the pot. If this happens, all you have to do is water it right away, allow it to soak it up, and water it again. It’ll perk right back up.
Mist your plant leaves several times a week using a spray bottle. They love to be in areas with higher humidity levels in the tropics, so along with watering regularly, make a point to mist it with a spray bottle to help replicate the rainforest’s humid air. During the summer, mist it a few times a week. The more water you can give it, the more it’ll bloom.
- HappyDIYHome Tip: The red peace lily is very sensitive to chlorine, so you want to use dechlorinated water. You can do this by leaving your tap water at room temperature for 24 hours and then watering.
Red Peace Lily Pruning
This low-maintenance plant doesn’t require heavy pruning to be happy, so you won’t have to do much unless you see dead or dying foliage.
If you spot any unhealthy leaves on your plant, trim them. When you compare it to many other plants, the red peace lily doesn’t require a lot of pruning. However, if one or more of the leaves wilt or turn brown, you may want to prune these leaves off your plant to stop it from wasting energy that it could be putting into flower production to save the dying leaves. Use sharp, clean pruning shears or scissors to remove any dead spots of unhealthy leaves. You want to make the cuts as clean as you can near the soil level without damaging the healthy plants.
- HappyDIYHome Tip: Brown and wilting leaves can be an indicator that you forgot to water your red peace lily, but they can also be a tell for a more serious issue. If you prune the plant a lot, look for the root cause and work on fixing it to save your plant.
Repotting the Red Peace Lily – Step by Step
There are many signs that it’s time to repot your red peace lily to keep it healthy and thriving. Just like any potted plant, they will eventually get too large to thrive in their original containers. When they do, the leaves can turn yellow for no apparent reason or you may find yourself watering much more. The plant roots can also crowd right to the surface of the soil. You’ll typically repot this plant every one or two years. To repot it, you should:
Use the Correctly Sized Pot
When you repot your plant, you’ll want to get a slightly bigger pot than you were previously using to allow your plant more room to spread out and the roots to grow. Use a pot that is roughly two inches wider in diameter than the previous one. Even though this isn’t a huge size increase, it can give the plant more than enough room to grow for a few years. Generally speaking, your red peace lily won’t ever need a pot that is over 10 inches in diameter. So, if you have your plant in this size pot and it’s still having problems, it could be another issue.
You can use virtually any pot material, including clay, plastic, or ceramic. They will all work out very well for you. You should make sure your pot has adequate drainage holes in the bottom. The water has to be able to drain from the pot to stave off the possibility of developing root rot.
Picking out the correct sized pot will give your plant the best chances possible to grow and thrive.
Use the Correct Potting Mix
As we touched on earlier, red peace lilies are native to tropical rainforest regions. They grow under a multi-tiered, thick forest canopy. So, this ensures that they have a constant supply of decaying plant matter. When you pick out potting soil, you want to pick one that has this quality. So, try to get a peat-based potting soil and have perlite or sand with composted bark. Ideally, you want a springy and light soil that has little or no odor.
Transfer the Plant to a New Container
Prepare the new pot by filling it with compacted soil so your plant sits on top of it. Ideally, you should only need to add potting soil around the sides of the plant, instead of below or on top of it. Gently pack the soil down so that it’ll support your plant firmly without it sinking down. Dig the red peace lily out of the current pot and put it on top of the soil in the new pot. Add soil from the original pot around the plant in the new pot to stave off shock.
Next, water the plant and add more soil as the water causes the current soil to settle. When you complete this transition, the soil in the new pot should be ½ to an inch below the rim of the pot.
Stake the Plant to for Support
Once you finish this process, the plant’s roots won’t have a strong hold in the new soil right away. Thai can make it challenging for the red peace lily to stay upright. If you’re having a hard time balancing the plant, use a sturdy wooden dowel or stake to support the stalk. Bury the stake into your potting soil without damaging the roots, and use wire to tie the stalk to the stake. When it can stand by itself and the roots establish, you can remove the stake.
Propagating the Red Peace Lily
If you have a large red peace lily and you want to create two separate plants, you want to pot the crown from the old plant. All you have to do is remove one of the plant’s crowns and pot it in a new plant instead of repotting the entire lily. The crown is a cluster of two or more leaves that are distinct and separate from the main mother plant.
To remove the crown from the main plant, you want to remove the entire plant from the pot very carefully. Working from the top of the crown to the roots, you want to disentangle the roots of the crown from the main plant’s roots. This can lead to accidental breakage, but this is normal. When you’ve separated the crown from the mother plant, you can plant it in a separate small pot that is no larger than six inches in diameter.
How to Get the Red Peace Lily to Bloom
Getting this plant to bloom can be very tricky unless you have the correct amount of light.
When it comes to blooming, red peace lilies can be difficult. Sometimes, even the healthiest, happiest, plants won’t bloom outside of the rainforest environment. However, if you want flowers on your plant, the best thing you can do is provide it with very consistent ideal conditions. This is especially important when it comes to diffused light, humidity, and consistent fertilizer applications.
Troubleshooting Problems with Red Peace Lilies
It’s usually pretty straightforward to take care of your red peace lily. However, there are a few common issues that pop up, and you should keep an eye out for:
- Brown Edges – This is usually a very good sign that your plant is getting too much direct sunlight. If this is the case, move the plant to a more shaded area. You can also increase the humidity around the plant by filling a saucer with small pebbles and adding up water up to ⅓ of an inch from the top of the stones. Set the plant on the saucer and the water will evaporate to raise the humidity around the plant.
- Dusty Leaves – This plant has larger leaves that tend to collect dust. You can put the plant in your shower and hose it down periodically to get rid of the dust. Just make sure it drains well before you put it back in the original place.
- Fungus Gnats – Some types of potting soil will attract more gnats than others because the gnats love moist soil to lay their eggs. You can try to water less frequently and allow the top layer of soil to dry out to deter them. If this doesn’t work, you may have to add an insecticide to kill the larvae in the plant’s soil.
- Yellow Leaves – Older leaves on your red peace lily will turn yellow as they age. You can remove them by cutting all of the way to the plant’s center. Plants that get too much water can develop yellow leaves too. Allow the soil to dry out a bit and cut back on the watering to encourage the plant to recover.
- Zero Blooms – If the plant refuses to bloom, you want to move it to an area that gets more direct sunlight and see if this helps.
Clean or Dispose of a Red Peace Lily with a Fungal Infection
Fungal infections can range from fatal to harmless. If you see gray or white fuzzy growth on the soil surface, you won’t need to be terribly concerned with it. This fungus isn’t dangerous to your plant, but it can bother people with allergies. To clear up this minor infection, you want to sprinkle a small amount of cinnamon on it. However if your lily develops a black aor dark coating on the stalk or leaves for no other reason, you most likely have a very serious fungal infection going on.
In this case, getting rid of your red peace lily is always a viable option because the fungal spores can be very persistent. They can stay in the air and soil around the plant and infect other plants. However, if you’re determined to save your plant, you can carefully remove any impacted areas and get rid of them somewhere they won’t be a danger to other plants. Keep them out of your compost pile. Next, water your plant with a compost tea as this is a natural fungicide to kill any remaining spores.
Insecticidal Soap Will Remove Pests like Aphids or Mites
Red peace lilies can have problems with infections from pests like mites or aphids. If you notice the foliage starting to die and wilt, especially if you see a slimy, sticky discharge, whtie webbing, or the pests themselves, a pest infestation is usually the main cause. You want to use a strong water steam to knock the pests from the plant. To make sure they don’t come back, treat the plant with a safe insecticidal soap. You can make your own by using:
- Mix a tablespoon of vegetable oil, one tablespoon of fat-derived, natural soap, and three tablespoons of cayenne pepper into a quart of warm water. Pour it all into a spray bottle and coat the plant thoroughly. YOu want to test it on a small area in the foliage to ensure that it doesn’t cause any damage before you douse your plant.
Recognize Under-Watering and Over-Watering Signs
One of the biggest issues red peace lilies have a problem with is not having a proper watering routine in place. Under or overwatering the plant can cause a host of non-specific symptoms that can overlap other problems this plant can develop. However, since improper watering is one of the easiest things you can fix, you want to try attempting the following before you take more drastic measures:
- Overwatering – This can be harder to pinpoint, but common hallmarks include brown leaf tips. Overwatering can easily lead to root rot, and this is a very serious but separate condition that is harder to salvage.
- Under Watering – Dry soil with wilting are common signs of underwatering, as are yellowing leaves or drooping stalks. You can remedy this by watering and misting at least once a week each. You should also note that plants that outgrow the container have a hard time absorbing the water.
Repot a Lily with Root Rot
Finally, root rot is a very serious condition that can affect any potted plant that has roots below the soil’s surface. It can easily kill the plant. Generally speaking, root rot comes from poor drainage or too much water. If you put the roots in standing water for a prolonged period, it is challenging for them to get the air they need to function. As a result, they’ll start to rot.
A few microorganisms called water molds can help spread the root rot, and they can even go to another plant if there is moisture. Root rot is usually fatal for your plant. However, to attempt to fix it, you want to remove the red peace lily from the pot and cut away any slimy, dead, or rotten portions of the root. Pot it in a new pot with new soil and make sure the pot has good drainage.
Even though root rot affects the root system, it can easily visibly impact the plant above the surface. The plant will start to die above the ground. So, if your red peace lily starts to look very wilted with frequent watering and good sunlight, root rot has usually taken hold.
This guide gives you a quick outline on how to keep your red peace lily happy and thriving indoors. You can apply the guidelines in this article to your own plant and see if you get the stunning red blooms this plant is known for with the glossy green foliage.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.