Organic Gardening

6 Key Tips to Successfully Propagate Peace Lily Plants

A decadent spread of peace lilies (Spathiphyllum) brings a casual elegance to any home or office. With its  distinctive white flowers and sleek dark foliage, there’s many reasons to propagate these graceful and long lived indoor plants.

Positioning a peace lily while being transplanted
Positioning a peace lily while being transplanted

Not only are they effortlessly stylish, but they bring real health benefits to your home or office. Peace lilies can be propagated by even the clumsiest gardener – if all you know about how to propagate would fit on a seed, this is an excellent chance to learn how!


Why Propagate a Peace Lily Plant?

Peace lilies are not known for being super fast growing plants like some other popular indoor choices like pothos or ivy. But they do grow, and a healthy peace lily with eventually fill out its pot. At its most practical, dividing a large plant into many smaller ones will allow you to keep your mature lily at a reasonable size. 

But peace lilies have a secret power. They’re one of the best houseplants for improving air quality, supporting mental health and overall well being. Scientists have discovered that peace lilies are excellent at removing harmful chemicals from the air indoors, including benzene and formaldehyde. In addition, the sophisticated swathes of green foliage Peace lilies have been shown to help promote focus and creativity, as well as promote a sense of well being in those two tend them. 

How To Propagate Peace Lily?

Peace lily propagation is best achieved through division of a mature mother plant. They can also be grown from seeds. Newly propagated lily plants can be grown in water, soil or hydroponics.

Separating peace lily plants 1
Separating peace lily plants

1: Propagating Peace Lilies Through Division

Division is the easiest and most common method to successfully propagate peace lilies. They expand outwards as they grow in a tight clump – each individual specimen springs from a series of thick stem-like roots called rhizomes. They store vital resources and are the key to Spathiphyllum’s success as an indoor plant.

You can create entirely new peace lily plants by separating a mature peace lily into many smaller plants. The best time to divide is during the spring and summer growing season. Peace lilies are native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, so you’ll have the most luck when the plant has warm growing conditions while recovering. To divide your peace lily, you will need:

  • adult lily plant
  • well-draining soil blend
  • enough pots to contain each new peace lily plant
  • clean water
  • small shovel or spade

“Spring is a great time to divide houseplants because most are entering their active growing period with the longer days.  Your new plants may not appear to be doing much for awhile because they will be settling and growing their roots into the new spaces of the pots.”

Ellen Campbell, University of Minnesota Extension Service

Step One

Begin by preparing your soil. You’ll need a small pot of soil mix for each of your new lilies, and it pays to get that sorted before you start breaking up your larger plant.

Peace lilies need a rich, well-draining potting soil with lots of organic material just as you would if repotting. A commercial blend formulated for African Violets will do the trick. I use a blend made from one part good quality potting mix, one part coco coir or peat, and one part perlite. This gives the perfect balance of moisture retention and drainage.

Container choice matters too. They need lots of drainage holes to prevent stagnant water pooling around their roots. 

Step Two:

Carefully remove the parent peace lily from its original pot. If the plant is root-bound give a few good taps to the side of the pot to get it loose. Gently remove it and take a good look at the root ball.  If the peace lily can be divided, you should notice roots that are thick and healthy, and it will have individual clusters of plants growing from a shared rhizome.

Step Three 

Separate the clusters of leaves and roots by gently pulling them apart. You can use a small shovel to help loosen things if need be, though by and large if you need to use force it’s a sign the peace lily isn’t mature enough to be cultivated yet. 

Step Four

Pop all plants in their own new pot, adding soil around the roots until the plant is stable. Water thoroughly with lukewarm water, preferably filtered or rainwater. You might find the soil settles after you water the new plant, so top them up with a bit more soil if the level drops or the lily feels a bit wobbly. 

2: Propagating Peace Lily With Water

If you’d like to skip the fuss of watering your peace lily, you can cultivate it in water. It will always have plenty to hand, and prevent that characteristic thirsty droop so notorious to peace lilies.

You’ll need to follow the steps above, but once the plants are separated you’ll need to take all the soil off the roots. Use water to rinse them clean.

Next, put the baby plants into their new home. Fill the vessel with clean, lukewarm water. Avoid tap water as it often contains mineral salts and chlorine that can cause brown leaf tips. Stout glass bottles with wide necks, jars or vases are good choices. 

You can place the vessel in pretty much the same locations you would grow the peace lily if it were in soil. Ensure the water levels remain topped up, and change the whole lot once every other week. Your new peace lily might grow more slowly, but the entire plant care regime is greatly simplified in the absence of soil.

Adding soil for new peace lily pot
Adding soil for new peace lily pot

3: Propagating Peace Lilies In Soil

Growing in soil requires more attention than growing in water. Once your new lilies are potted you’ll have to keep them well hydrated without drowning them. It’s why I blend my own well-draining mixture – I can ensure the excess water escapes the pot without leaving my lily too dry to thrive or produce those wonderful white blooms.

When propagating, allow the soil to dry after the first watering. The roots are likely to be stressed and vulnerable to fungal disease if you promote conditions where the soil is a bog. Water when the top inch or two is dry to the touch, and when you do, water thoroughly enough to flush the pot. 

4: Growing Lilies from Seeds

Sprouting a peace lily from a seed is another option. It’s far trickier than using division, but it’s often rewarding to grow a whole new plant from a tiny speck. 

It’s easiest to just up and buy your own seeds. Most commercial types of peace lily flowers can’t fertilize themselves, so it’ll be dicey at best. Commercial seeds are also treated to prevent disease so you’ll have a better success rate using them.

To grow peace lily seedlings, you’ll need a propagation tray of moist coco peat or other soil free seed raising medium. Moisten the medium and sprinkle the seeds across the surface, then cover with a very light layer of the medium. 

Germination takes around ten days, but is frequently longer. Keep them warm and moist while you wait, at between 21-32°C (70-90°F) with plenty of bright but indirect light. Avoid direct sun as this can overheat the container and cook the seeds.

Planting peace lily pup
Planting peace lily pup

5: How To Propagate Peace Lily In Hydroponics

Growing peace lilies in hydroponics may seem an unusual tactic, but it needn’t be complicated. It’s often a good way to avoid a lot of the common problems with peace lilies wilting for want of a drink. They’ll grow in just about any form of hydroponics, and are especially suited to wicking beds. A small passive setup doesn’t even need power and will keep your new baby lily well hydrated and nourished with far less fuss. 

Start with a seedling free of soil, and install in your system as normal. They’re light feeders even when growing flowers, so keep the peace lily’s solution at EC 1.2. They also don’t need a long photo-period, and are actively stressed by too much light.

Soil being added to the new peace lily pot
Soil being added to the new peace lily pot

6: How To Care for Peace Lilies After Propagation

An indoor peace lily has a few requirements to get it thriving after propagation. 

First is to be careful with how you water the peace lily. Get this right and you’ll conquer the hardest part of peace lily care. They do best when kept consistently moist, but not too soggy. Like many plants they’re vulnerable to root rot if their substrate is allowed to get too wet. Let the top inch dry out, then really soak them with plenty of water. Get a grip on their watering and they’re a pretty easy to care for plant.

Additionally, peace lilies prefer room temperature water that’s as pure as possible. Rainwater, distilled water or filtered tap is best. They’re sensitive to chlorine, fluoride, and mineral salts, often developing chemical burns on their roots and leaves if their water isn’t perfectly clean.

Light is also important. If you want the peace lily to bloom, you’ll need to provide lots of bright, diffuse light. Direct sunlight is too powerful, however, so keep them out of sunbeams.

Finally keep their humidity high. Peace lilies love moist air, so aim for 50% atmospheric humidity or higher. Newly propagated specimens do especially well with electric humidifiers, but they also thrive in warm, humid parts of the home like bathrooms.

Flowering peace lilys 1
Flowering peace lily’s

FAQ

Can you propagate peace lily from a leaf?

Sadly, peace lily leaves don’t have the structures required to grow new roots. Even the largest peace lily leaf cutting lacks the resources to survive for long without them. You’ll need to remove the leaves with some of the surrounding roots if you want to get peace lily babies on the go. A stem cutting just won’t cut it.

Are Peace Lilies Perennials?

Peace lilies are a perennial plant that can last for decades with the right care and attention. Their rhizome will last on beneath the soil, connecting plants that may seem like they’re totally distinct. As older parts of the plant die back, newer ones spring up to replace them. You can grow and care for peace lily arrangements long after the original specimen has died, none the wiser.

How fast do peace lilies grow?

Peace lilies are moderate growers, neither particularly fast or particularly slow. They take a few years to reach their full size, so how fast that seems depends on the variety you grow. Compact cultivars like the dwarf Little Angel aren’t going to shoot up as impressively as varieties that reach 3 to 4 feet like Mauna Loa or the 6 foot high Supreme.



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