The peace lily is a beautiful, easy-care indoor plant that produces uniquely shaped white flowers, even in a room with low light. But that doesn’t mean that peace lilies can’t run into a few problems, namely with those lovely white flowers turning some shade of unhealthy brown.
The seven most common reasons for a peace lily flower turning brown are:
- Too much harsh light
- Overwatering or under-watering
- Lack of humidity
- Cold temperatures
- Recent repotting
In this article, you’ll learn the details of why each reason can be a problem, and how to help your peace lily get back on a healthy track. We’ll also look at some aspects of peace lily flowers in general and answer a few common questions.
Let’s dive in!
Why Do Peace Lily Flowers Turn Brown?
Most of the time, your peace lily brown flowers are due to some kind of environmental or care issues, although sometimes they can also just be a natural part of the plant’s life cycle.
When your peace lily’s growing conditions don’t match its needs, it raises a stress response from your plant. This causes your plant to direct its limited resources to areas that are necessary to life, like the main stems, new leaves and roots.
Since flowers are more expendable to your plant than foliage or main stems, your peace lily will sacrifice its blooms to preserve the key parts that ensure life. So brown flowers are often an early clue that something is amiss with your plant.
To best understand your peace lily’s needs, you have to look at its natural habitat. In the wild, peace lily grows on the rainforest floor in Central and South America. This means that its ideal growing conditions include filtered lighting, warm temperatures, humid air and moderately moist soil.
When those conditions aren’t met in your home, your peace lily will often respond with prematurely browning flowers.
So now let’s move on to the details of each reason and how to fix them.
1. Too Much Harsh Light
All plants need light to some degree for photosynthesis, but too much strong, direct sunlight is the most common cause behind a peace lily flower turning brown.
Remember, peace lilies in the wild grow on the rainforest floor where the dense forest canopy naturally filters the light. When you expose your peace lily to too much direct sunlight, it can burn the plant, causing the flower to droop and turn brown.
According to North Carolina State Extension, peace lily likes partial shade for 2-6 hours per day and only tolerates direct sunlight for part of the day, preferably in the morning when the rays are gentler.
So avoid placing your peace lily in a window that receives direct sunlight, especially during the harsh afternoon hours.
Instead, put your plant in an eastward-facing window with trees outside or something to help filter the sunlight. If there’s nothing outside to filter the sunlight, place your plant back a few feet from an east or west-facing window to keep them out of direct rays.
Another thing to keep in mind is that sunlight patterns change seasonally. A window that provides the perfect amount of light during the fall and winter may let in way too much light during spring and summer.
So keep an eye on how your peace lily reacts to seasonal light changes and be prepared to move it to a different location for a few months.
2. Overwatering or Under-Watering
The next most likely culprit to blame for peace lily blooms turning brown is watering too much or too little. Overwatering being the greater danger, by far- it can lead to a potentially fatal condition called root rot.
Peace lily thrives in soil that’s moist but not water-logged, so you’ll have to strike a proper balance. Your goal is to allow the soil surface to dry out between waterings but to keep the underlying soil slightly damp.
Before watering, always feel the soil with your hand. The surface should feel dry to the touch, but when you stick your finger into the soil, you should feel some dampness at your first knuckle. When your plant feels like this, it’s ready for a drink.
Typically, a good watering schedule is about once a week during the spring and summer, when the plant is actively growing. During the fall and winter, peace lily slows down on growth and only needs water every two weeks or so.
But that schedule can vary based on your home’s temperature and humidity level. Also, if you have your peace lily in a terra cotta or unglazed ceramic pot, you may need to water more frequently since these materials lose moisture through their porous walls.
So check your peace lily’s soil moisture every 5 days or so for a few weeks. Keep track of how the soil felt, and you should develop an appropriate watering routine for your needs.
3. Lack of Humidity
As a tropical rainforest native, the peace lily prefers high levels of humidity, about 50% or higher. If your home doesn’t have enough humidity, you’ll likely start to notice the leaf tips taking on a dried-out, crispy look, with browning flowers following.
So the solution here is easy: Increase the ambient humidity near your plant.
You’ve got a few ways to do this:
- Use a spray bottle filled with filtered water to mist your peace lily occasionally
- Place the pot on a shallow tray with gravel or pebbles and add a small amount of water, just enough to keep the gravel/pebbles wet
- Many plants release water through their foliage, so if you have other houseplants, use them to make a grouping around your peace lily
- Place your peace lily in a humid room, like your bathroom or kitchen (remember, this plant tolerates low light just fine)
- Use a plant humidifier
4. Cold Temperatures
Once again, the peace lily’s native habitat comes into play here. This plant is adapted to tropical temperatures, and if it’s getting too cool in your home, you could end up with peace lily blooms turning brown.
Keep the ambient temperature between 68 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit during daytime hours and above 60 degrees at night. Also, move your peace lily away from drafty windows in the winter and air conditioning vents in the summer.
If you can’t avoid having your peace lily near an air conditioning vent, use air deflectors to help steer the cold air away from your plant.
5. Recent Repotting
If you’ve repotted your peace lily in the last couple of weeks, it can experience transplant shock for a brief time as it adjusts to the new environment. This transition period may result in the plant’s white flowers turning brown.
Transplant shock is very common with many plants and can be easily overcome with time, patience, and a little TLC.
Make sure the temperature is just right, sunlight is sufficient and water just a bit more frequently until the peace lily is established in the new pot.
Fertilizing (too much to be precise) is another potential reason for peace lily flowers turning brown. You’d think that a long-lasting bloom like this one would need lots of food, right?
Giving too much fertilizer can result in a chemical burn for your plant, damaging delicate roots and sending your plant into survival mode. Also, many fertilizers contain salts, and when these salts build up, they can inhibit growth and cause toxicity.
So resist the urge to fertilize your plant every week or even every month. Especially if you’re using high-quality potting soil, frequent fertilization really isn’t necessary for this gorgeous flower.
Instead, give your peace lily a balanced fertilizer about every 2 to 3 months during the active growth/flowering phase in spring and summer. This is typically between April and September.
Always make sure to mix your fertilizer with water or give a generous watering immediately after applying fertilizer to avoid a chemical burn.
Lastly, there’s a reason for peace lily flowers turning brown that’s totally normal: They’ve just reached the end of their natural lifespan.
As much as we hate to admit it, flowers age just like we do. And that means we’ll see changes in the blooms like wrinkling, sagging, and turning brown.
The typical lifespan of a healthy peace lily flower is actually about two months, with the white coloring lasting about 10 days to 2 weeks. That’s really a long time for flowers to last if you think about it!
If all other care aspects (watering, lighting, humidity, etc) are ideal and the brown discoloration only shows up after several weeks, it’s probably just the normal aging process kicking in.
Will My Peace Lily Flowers Turn White Again?
The peace lily flower is actually called a spathe, which is a type of leaf that surrounds the pollen spike (called a sadix). The spathe starts out as a green color, turns a bright white as it matures, the back to green and then brown as flowers fade and the bloom dies.
This process takes about one to two months on average, but it depends on the environment your peace lily is in. Once the bloom turns brown, regardless of the cause, it unfortunately will not turn white again even if you correct the underlying problem.
Providing the best care you can that most closely mimics its natural habitat is the key to helping your peace lily bloom and for those blooms to last as long as possible.
How to Remove Brown Flowers from a Peace Lily
Thankfully, when a peace lily flower turns brown, it doesn’t mean the plant is dead.
Like we mentioned earlier, your plant will divert resources away from flowers first in an effort to keep the vital plant parts alive. So if you correct the problem behind the browning flowers before the rest of the plant suffers, it should bounce back well.
However, in the early stages of stress, your plant will make an effort to save its flowers. We’ve already established that browning flowers won’t turn white again, so cutting them off is the best strategy for keeping your plant healthy, happy and focused on producing new growth.
Each peace lily flower has its own stem, and these stems do not grow back. Instead, your plant will grow new stems for producing new blooms. So don’t feel bad at all about cutting them off!
Don’t try to pinch off brown peace lily flowers by hand- it’ll hurt your hand and the peace lily. Instead, follow these steps:
- Use a pair of sharp scissors or pruning shears; these tools will produce a clean cut that looks better and leaves less risk of infection from ragged, decaying plant matter.
- Clean the cutting blades off with a cotton ball soaked in isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to prevent introducing harmful microbes to your plant.
- Follow the stem all the way down to the base of the plant and cut it there.
I wrote a post on pruning peace lilies with photos that show where to cut spent stems and flowers, so stop by if you’d like a visual for the process.
Peace Lily Blooming Patterns
So you’ve done everything right for your peace lily and the flowers are turning brown or your plant is just not blooming at all. What gives?
It might be nothing more than the normal seasonal blooming patterns of the peace lily. Let’s take a look at the details:
First, a peace lily must be mature before it will bloom. If you grew it from seed, it would take at least 1 to 1.5 years for a peace lily to reach maturity and therefore bloom naturally.
The plants available online and in garden centers are typically less than 1 year old. These sellers often use the hormone gibberellic acid to make an immature peace lily bloom so it looks pretty and you buy it. This is called “forcing” the plants to bloom.
But the bad thing about this practice is that once the forced blooms die, the peace lily doesn’t flower again for a year or so. This is because the plant hasn’t actually matured yet so it’s not ready to bloom again. And the forced early blooming may shorten the overall lifespan of the plant.
It’s a bit of a shady practice for sure. If it happens to you, just be patient with your peace lily, give it good care and enjoy its all-green foliage for a while. In time, your plant should reward you with pretty white blooms.
In terms of seasons, peace lilies will naturally bloom in the spring or early part of summer. The flower will go from green to white back to green again, with the flower only being white in color for about a week and a half or two weeks.
The whole flowering process typically takes anywhere from one to two months. If you treat your peace lily especially well, you may get another blooming season again in the late summer or early fall. But this is all dependent upon the right conditions: soil moisture, temperature, filtered sunlight and the like.
The peace lily does not go fully dormant in the fall through spring months like many plants do. During late fall and winter, the plant continues to grow, but it will not bloom. This is partly due to the shorter daylight or photoperiods of the winter.
But even though there are no blooms, the leaves will remain green and your plant will keep on growing all year long. So enjoy it as-is and look forward to more lovely blooms in a few months!
Frequently Asked Questions about Peace Lily Flower Turning Brown
The peace lily is relatively easy to care for, it’s just about maintaining the right atmosphere for a healthy plant and preventing those flowers from turning brown.
As long as you’ve got the right sunlight, watering/feeding schedule and temperature, it’s got plenty of benefits. That includes those stunning white flowers that you now know how to keep at their best!
Do you have other questions about peace lily flowers turning brown? Or do you have any helpful tips to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!