Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Repotting Peace Lily House Plant

Once upon a time, this peace lily was glorious. (2014)

It was repotted in 2016, as the plant outgrew the old pot.

Yeesh....then all of a sudden, two weeks ago - what's going on?!

Here you can see the comparison...   Once you see leaves droop (even though you are giving the plant adequate waterings), this is the sign you need to recognize that something else is happening.

Have a peak and see what the problem is. Don't be frightened to poke around and see what is happening at the root level. I moved the leaves/stems around and noticed they were not sturdy and firmly stabilized at the base of the plant. In the centre of the plant, you've got to feel what should be fleshy roots (like root vegetables). In what is normally a dense area of root growth, I felt a soft centre and noticed leafy debris.

Every leaf was floppy and had no resistance to me tugging at it, especially at the centre.

I just grabbed the whole plant and gave it a tug.  The whole thing popped right out - easily.

The culprit: the main parent plant has withered away and now what is left are the newer plants that emerge along the side of the original plant.

Time to repot.

Note, this plant was potted up a year ago in a slightly larger pot than what I would recommend. House plants thrive generally in root bound conditions. Meaning, they prefer to be root bound (less room) than swimming in soil.

Once you've tugged and lifted the mass away from the soil, find good sturdy groupings of plants and pull them apart gently. Try not to sever roots. I gently grabbed two bunches and pulled (soil being slightly moist) and they separated easily. If you are familiar with Hostas, Peace Lily Roots are quite similar and you can divide them in the same way.

You can see, they have a dense network of fleshy roots - long like spaghetti. This is still a healthy plant but we need to search for the rotting centre.

Here is the rotting old plant main stem.  Remove and toss out. I don't compost this, in case any sort of bacteria/virus hangs around. I looked through the healthy roots and removed any dead dangling roots that would be weaved in and among the healthy ones.

Remove any browning leaves.  Remove any leaves that aren't rigidly attached the base of the stem.

Like celery, they easily snap off at the base. Remove any broken bits or anything that can rot or decay later on.

When you remove leaves and debris, you'll notice little bumps and new developing roots.  These are ideal and what you want to see.

Time to repot:

I found two smaller pots (I cleaned and prepped them earlier). Try to pick pots based upon the root mass. The more roots, the bigger the pot. The less, the smaller pot is best.  This way, the plant won't swim in over watered soil and rot further.

Try to do this process of separating and cleaning the plants quickly when the roots are exposed. If there is a lot of dead material to clean out or can't get the job done quickly, use a spray bottle and spray roots - keeping them moist. This prevents them from drying out and going into shock. If you do get interrupted, for a while, place the roots into a clean bucket with water. Be sure to keep the roots hydrated.

Fill the pots with some soil to begin and gently place 3-4 plant bunches together and place into the centre of the pot. You could space them out more, but it is quite the job to get them to stand up evenly as you place the soil around.  I used an indoor potting soil, mixed with cactus soil (which has some sand added for better drainage). Peace Lilies like moist soil conditions but they like the soil to dry out between watering.  

Pinch firmly down.

Don't go over a two inch gap between the plant base and the sides of the pot. Otherwise the pot is too large.

Pinching the plant downwards, while adding more soil, will just fill the air pockets and keep the plant firmly in place.  I tamp down the soil as I go to help keep the roots below the soil surface.  Tap the sides of the pot to help level off the soil.

Water fairly well (do not oversoak) and place the plants close to a sunny window.

Don't be shocked if the plant shows stress and wilted leaves. It'll take a week of recuperation. Don't fret.

Here is the result 2 weeks later:

Shiny new leaves emerging. Leaves are turgid again and sturdy. Pointing outward again and not wilted. Success!


Two plants now, instead of one.  Great for gift giving or increasing your collection.

I love Peace Lily plants for their well known benefit of cleansing household air and their pervasive blooming ability. They are one of my most favourite house plants for low light conditions.

 Will update you on how they fair in the next month.  Stay linked....


  1. Just what I needed to revive a 15?year old plant. Thanks.lily

  2. i just repotted mine gave it new soil after 3 years its wilted today but i will wait a few days see if it recovers

  3. I'm a little concerned, I repotted my peace lily a little over a week ago and a bunch of the leaves turned yellow and are very wilted. I'm trying not to water too much, but don't know what else to do for it. Please help!!

    1. It's probably shocked. Remove the yellow leaves from the base, as you would celery from the stalk. Be patient. Peace Lilies are tough, they just take a while to regain stamina. Allow the plant to dry out between waterings. Too much water, may cause rot.

  4. Thank you so much for this help! Just finished cleaning and repotting. I hope I rescued it in time!


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