Tips to Identify and Prevent Peace Lily Diseases

Peace lilies, Spathiphyllum spp. are easygoing houseplants that seldom suffer from disease issues when provided with the right care.

In fact, they are so easy to grow that Dr. Leonard Parry, Horticulture Professor at the University of Vermont says that they have been called the “perfect houseplant.”

In our guide to growing peace lilies, we cover how to cultivate these popular plants indoors.

A vertical image of a small Spathiphyllum plant in a white pot set on a wooden surface with a light gray wall in the background. To the top and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

We link to vendors to help you find relevant products. If you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.

For best results, they require a location that receives six to eight hours of bright, indirect sunlight, and well-draining soil.

Fertilizer applications once a month during the growing season, watering when the top inch of soil dries out, and occasional repotting is just about all that’s needed to keep them happy.

However, while it doesn’t happen often, these tropical foliage plants can sometimes fall prey to disease.

In this guide, we’ll cover the most common diseases that can affect peace lilies, and what you can do about them.

These diseases are primarily a problem when commercial growers have large-scale plantings of peace lilies to produce them for sale.

You should be able to avoid these issues by purchasing your peace lily from a reputable nursery, and inspecting it before you bring it home.

Select healthy specimens, and avoid those with yellow leaves, mold on the surface of the potting soil, and wilting foliage.

1. Cylindrocladium Root Rot

Cylindrocladium root rot is a fungal infection caused by Cylindrocladium spathiphylli.

Your houseplant can be vulnerable to this disease if it is overwatered, or is planted in soil that lacks adequate drainage.

A close up horizontal image of two Spathiphyllums suffering from Cylindrocladium root rot set on a corrugated iron surface with a small white sign with printed text in the foreground.
Photo by Mary Ann Hansen, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Bugwood.org, via CC BY-SA.

In warm, moist conditions, this fungus can destroy the entire root system in the space of a few weeks to a few months.

It can be difficult to detect, because the rot can progress for several weeks before the peace lily shows any symptoms of infection on its leaves.

Typically, the first you’ll notice of this infection is the yellowing of the lower leaves, and possibly wilting foliage.

On closer examination, the leaves and petioles may also have dark brown spots, particularly on the lower portions of the petioles.

By the time you notice this discoloration, it’s likely that the roots are severely rotten, and you have little hope of saving your peace lily. Discard the plant and all the soil from the pot into the trash.

You’ll need to sterilize the pot if you wish to reuse it, as the fungus produces infectious resting structures called sclerotia that can survive in soil and organic matter.

2. Dasheen Mosaic Virus

This viral disease causes a mosaic pattern of yellow to light green to appear on new leaves of plants that are infected. It generally does not cause much, if any, reduction in growth or failure to thrive.

The virus is typically spread between plants by insects, such as aphids, infected potting soil, or gardening tools.

There is no cure for this virus, and while your peace lily may not show any ill effects, apart from discolored foliage, keep in mind that it can infect other related houseplants, such as anthurium, dieffenbachia, and philodendron.

3. Leaf Blight

Phytophthora nicotianae is a water mold (oomycete) that causes leaf blight on a large variety of plants. It is generally spread by splashing water. High moisture levels and humidity are ideal conditions for infection.

The primary symptoms of this disease are leaf margins and centers that have black or brown dead spots.

If conditions are moist, the spots may appear wet and mushy. However, if the foliage is dry, these spots may be dry.

As the disease progresses, the spots will expand into larger lesions.

The damaged tissue can also be colonized by secondary fungi that can change the appearance of the disease.

If you catch it in the early stages, you can try repotting your plant into a new, sterilized container, using fresh sterile potting soil.

Cut off the damaged foliage and dispose of it in the trash, as the spores can persist in plant debris. Also dispose of all old potting soil and be sure to sterilize the container if you intend to reuse it.

A soil drench with Monterey Agri-Fos Disease Control Fungicide, available via Amazon, can be applied immediately after repotting, according to package instructions.

Monterey Agri-Fos Disease Control Fungicide

Watering at the base of the plant and keeping the foliage dry can help to prevent this pathogen from taking root (or leaf in this case).

4. Pythium Root Rot

Pythium root rot is caused by another water mold, Pythium spp. The leaves of plants infected with this water mold usually appear yellowish and wilted.

A close up horizontal image of roots suffering from Pythium root rot pictured on a black background.
Photo by Penn State Department of Plant Pathology & Environmental Microbiology Archives, Penn State University, Bugwood.org, via CC BY-SA.

By the time you notice the symptoms on the foliage, the roots will be black and mushy.

This disease can be difficult to distinguish from Cylindrocladium root rot, the most notable difference being that in the case of Pythium root rot, the petioles are typically not affected.

Damp conditions favor the development of this disease, so avoid overwatering, water at the soil level, and make sure your plant has well-draining potting soil.

Early-stage treatment is the same as that for Cylindrocladium root rot: repotting into fresh potting mix, and a soil drench using Monterey Agri-Fos Disease Control Fungicide.

However, if your peace lily is severely infected, you are best served starting over with a new plant. Remember to dispose of all infected potting soil and plant debris in the trash.

You May Never Encounter These Diseases

As mentioned, most of these diseases have their origin in commercial nurseries where large numbers of plants are grown and propagated in close proximity.

A close up horizontal image of a Spathiphyllum plant with green foliage and long white flowers with a brick wall in the background.

Although I will admit that I did lose a peace lily to root rot, odds are good that you can grow your Spathiphyllum plants unscathed.

By keeping the foliage dry, watering only when the top inch of soil is dry, and providing your plants with adequate light, you will likely never have to contend with any of these diseases.

Have you struggled with a disease on your peace lily? If so, let us know in the comments section below.

And for more information on growing peace lilies, check out these guides next:

© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. With additional writing and editing by Clare Groom.

About Helga George, PhD

One of Helga George’s greatest childhood joys was reading about rare and greenhouse plants that would not grow in Delaware. Now that she lives near Santa Barbara, California, she is delighted that many of these grow right outside! Fascinated by the childhood discovery that plants make chemicals to defend themselves, Helga embarked on further academic study and obtained two degrees, studying plant diseases as a plant pathology major. She holds a BS in agriculture from Cornell University, and an MS from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Helga then returned to Cornell to obtain a PhD, studying one of the model systems of plant defense. She transitioned to full-time writing in 2009.

50 thoughts on “Tips to Identify and Prevent Peace Lily Diseases”

    • Hi Christina,

      I’m sorry to hear that, and thank you for posting a picture! Unfortunately, I can’t see the orange colored bands on it.

      It does look like the leaves are wilting some, which could be from under watering or root rot from overwatering. The brown tips on the leaves could be a clue that the plant is not being watered enough.

      There is a pathogen of Amaryllis called red blotch that causes orange streaks, but I can’t find any evidence that it is a pathogen on peace lilies.

      Would it be possible to post a close-up of the orange bands? That might help me to identify it.

      Reply
  1. Hi my peace lily is green but leaves and flowers stems are not firm like I bought it from the store recently it happened.please advise

    Reply
    • Hi Kinjal,

      Thank you for the picture, alarming as it is.

      These symptoms can come from overwatering or under watering. How frequently do you water the plant? Our guide to growing them recommends letting the top inch of soil get dry and watering them once a week.

      I am concerned that the plant may have been overwatered and developed a root rot.

      Please water judiciously for the next couple weeks and see if the plant improves. If not, please make another comment.

      If the plant does not get better, it might be necessary to dispose of it and start with a new plant. Hopefully, that won’t be the case. I wish you the best with your plant.

      Reply
      • Hi helga
        Thank you so much for you reply.I really appreciate your advice.so while i was waiting for your reply i thought it is overwatered so i took out the whole plant from pot and wiped all soil and left the plant in water and kept the soil in sun for one day and then once soil was dry move plant and soil in pot is looks better then before now but not completely recovered though.flower is browning.please advise what should i do next?

        Reply
        • Hi Kinjal,

          I’m so glad that you found the advice useful. I think you were right to be concerned about the soil being too wet, but keeping the plant in water overnight could have been a shock to its system.

          I am happy to see the picture. Except for the brown spot on the flower, it looks great! I’m not positive about the browning on the flower, but it could conceivably be a reaction to its soaking and subsequent replanting. I would leave it as it is and monitor the plant to make sure that it does not brown anymore.

          Please let us know how it is doing in a week or so!

          Reply
  2. All of my Peace Lilly plants grow and occasionally blooms; however, two of my plants have yellow leaves. I have moved them away from the area that gets bright, indirect sun, to an area with less indirect sun. I water when the leaves droop almost fully. My largest plant seems to do much better. I also water them with a very mild coffee solution about once a month.

    Reply
    • Hi Theresa,

      Peace lily leaves can turn yellow from too much or too little light. It sounded like the area with bright indirect light would have been perfect for them.

      I would caution you to water the plants before the leaves droop almost fully. That means they are in dire need of water, and that condition could stress them out and make them vulnerable to pathogens.

      Our guide on the care of peace lilies recommends watering once a week when the top inch of soil is dry.

      It’s good to hear that your largest plant is doing better. Hopefully, if you implement these changes, they will all by doing better! Keep us posted on how your peace lily plants are doing.

      Reply
  3. Hi! I just got my peace lily from Home Depot about a week ago and since then have noticed some of the bottom leaves turning yellow with black tips. The soil was really moist when I got it, so I haven’t watered it yet and just waiting for the soil to dry, but I have spritzed jt with water here and there. Any suggestions appreciated!

    Reply
    • Hi Lei,

      Congratulations on your new acquisition! It sounds like you are taking the right approach in waiting for it to dry out before you water it again. By spritzing with water, do you mean misting? If so, that is also a good idea.

      Thank you for posting pictures! I don’t like the look of those bottom leaves. I would cut them off in case they are infected with a fungus. Then disinfect your scissors or shears with 70% rubbing alcohol or 10% bleach. If you use bleach, be sure to wash it off, since it is corrosive.

      Please let us know how your peace lily is doing once you have had it for a while.

      Reply
  4. My peace Lilly is not doing well can u help me please help me I had it since my son funeral from7/20 I’m going nuts trying to figure it out

    Reply
    • Hi Frances,

      I’m so sorry that your peace lily is doing well, especially considering how you got it. I’m sorry for your loss!

      It looks like your plant might have leaf blight caused by a water mold (a fungus-like organism). That can happen if water splashes on the plant. How do you water it? Do you water it on the soil, or do you run water from above? Watering at the bottom is much safer and will avoid a lot of infections.

      Be sure and cut off any leaves with those symptoms, and throw them out in the trash.

      I would suggest that you repot the plant. If you use the same pot, sterilize it in 10% bleach or 70% rubbing alcohol. Be sure and use fresh, sterile potting soil. If you want to be thorough, you can treat the soil with a fungicide after you replant it. It’s called Agri-Fos. If you want to order it online, you can get it from Amazon.

      Hopefully, that will help. If you have time, please let us know what you did and how it worked.

      Reply
      • I water it from the bottom with distilled water and sometimes tap water but from time to time I mist the leaves do this mean the plant will not make it I’m not a plant person and I don’t understand this process I have a new pot coming and some miracle gro potting soil is that ok what leaves do I have to get rid of and can the fungus be reversed thanks for everything

        Reply
        • Hi Frances,

          I’m glad you wrote back. It sounds like you are doing everything right! I’m impressed that you water with distilled water. That is perfect. And it’s good that you mist the plant. It’s when people pour huge amounts of water on the plants that there are issues with diseases.

          I would just cut the leaves that have the brown spots. Most of the leaves looked pretty good to me in the pictures you posted. I’m suggesting that out of an abundance of caution.

          I am optimistic that your plant will make it.

          Reply
          • Hi Frances,

            Yes. Cut the whole leaf to be safe in case there is a pathogen spreading throughout it.

            Also, I realized that I forgot to answer part of your last question. Miracle Gro is a good choice to use for potting soil.

            Good luck! As I said before, I am highly optimistic that your plant will survive and thrive.

          • Hi Frances,

            You are very welcome. I’m glad that you asked your questions, so I could help you out with your peace lily.

            I wish you the best with it!

  5. Hello! I can’t find an exact answer for why my leaves have yellow blotches. I’m hoping you can lend helpful suggestions. She is a new addition to the family. 2 weeks now, and this is my first and only issue. She was moist when I bought her, so I wanted to wait until she acclimated and had time to dry before watering. She is currently being quarantined. No pests. I have cleaned her weekly with neem, alcohol, and water mix, as a preventative measure. I do all my new plants the same way. She is semi root bound, but I’m waiting until Spring to repot. I live in Ohio, It is still cold here. She was watered 4 days ago with fresh rain water. She experienced a bit of a cool/not freezing draft for a short time. I currently keep her 6 feet away from a very small West facing window. Her permanent home will hopefully and eventually be an East facing window. I do not want to infect my other plants if the leaves are communicating fungal issues so will keep her in quarantine (my bedroom) for a while longer.

    The full plant photo was taken just five days before the issue.
    Does it present like Mosaic virus? 

    Reply
    • Hi Shaquanna,

      Thank you for your question and posting pictures! I’m sorry that the leaves are yellowing. This virus usually causes a mosaic type pattern.

      A lack of adequate iron can cause leaves to become yellow, too, but the rest of your plant is so lush and green. Also, when the culprit is iron deficiency, the veins usually stand out as being dark green against the yellow background.

      After studying the symptoms of iron chlorosis, I am more likely to think that your plant has Dasheen mosaic virus. It won’t do much damage to your peace lily, but as you noted, it could spread to other houseplants. Could you possibly keep the plant in your bedroom long-term?

      I think the plant looks wonderful otherwise, and I am highly impressed with your sanitation regime for new plants!

      Reply
      • Hi Helga, thank you for your reply. I have been meaning to respond. My peace lily is doing great and is happy in its current location. I have not seen any more issues and no longer believe it presents as Mosaic virus. I do however know what to look for and pay attention to because of your advice. Thank you so much!

        Reply
    • Hi Danitakay,

      I was going to recommend that you read the article on growing and caring for peace lilies, but I see you discovered it!

      I wish you the best in helping your plant to bloom.

      Reply
    • Hi Gladys,

      I am so sorry to hear that! However, a photograph of the plant showing its symptoms would help me provide advice to you. Could you possibly post one?

      Reply
  6. I have four peace lilys in my garden. They are huge. The problem I’m having is dry ends of the leaves. It doesn’t matter how often I water them. Pls. Help.
    Thanks for your time.
    Nilda

    Reply
    • Hi Nilda,

      I’m sorry to hear about the leaves on your peace lilies.

      Dry ends on the leaves can be a cry for help for a number of reasons.

      1) Watering too frequently, so the soil becomes soggy
      2) Air that is too dry
      3) Too much fertilizer.

      I would keep a close eye on your watering.

      I hope that helps!

      Reply
    • My Lilly has this spots on quite a few leaves and even see it on the new leaves coming in before they even open. Any clues? I bought the plant recently and brought it home and repotted. After I noticed those spots on new growth just recently. So I repotted again and root are not rotten at all. But new growth continues with those spots!
      Thanks in advance if anyone ever felt with this? Is it common? Should I toss the plant?
      Connie

      Reply
      • Hi Connie! Thank you for sending photos along with your question — that’s very helpful. I can think of two potential issues. First, is your plant next to a window? I couldn’t quite tell from the photos. If so, you may want to move it to an area with less direct light, as the sun can cause damage to the leaves and that might be what’s happening.

        If sunburn isn’t the problem, it might be leaf blight. See Helga’s instructions above for help solving that issue! I’ve copied and pasted part of the directions here: “If you catch it in the early stages, you can try repotting your plant into a new, sterilized container, using fresh sterile potting soil.Cut off the damaged foliage and dispose of it in the trash, as the spores can persist in plant debris. Also dispose of all old potting soil and be sure to sterilize the container if you intend to reuse it.
        A soil drench with Monterey Agri-Fos Disease Control Fungicide, available via Amazon, can be applied immediately after repotting, according to package instructions.”

        I hope this helps!

        Reply
  7. Hi, I’m so happy to have found this page. There’s something wrong with my peace lily and I can’t figure it out. I will attach some pictures below which show its current condition (basically lots of light green spots on the leaves and some leaves yellowing, I’m worried about it being a virus and spreading to my other plants). Could you please advise me what’s wrong with it?

    Reply
    • Hi Alexandre! Thank you for your question – I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you earlier. Could you re-attach the photos if you’re still experiencing this problem? I’m not seeing them here. Thank you!

      Reply
    • Hi Cindy! There could be a variety of issues at play. How often are you watering? Are you checking the soil between waterings to see if it is moist or dry? Over and underwatering can often stress houseplants out.

      If you’re still experiencing this issue, please feel free to reach out and attach photos if you can. Thank you!

      Reply
  8. My daughter received a huge peace lily from her friends when her father passed away. It has been in my care since she lived 600 mi away. I have never grown a peace lily and I fear I may have over watered it as the leaves started drooping and turning yellow. I saved 1/2 part of the plant that didn’t look bad and repotted it with Miracle Gro moisture control soil. I did clean the planter out first. Do you think this will help or should I just go buy a new one for her.

    Reply
    • Hi Betty! I’m sorry to hear this. Repotting was a good choice to make. How is the plant doing now? Please let me know if I can help in any further way.

      Reply
  9. I forgot to tell you I was watering every other day. I have new heathy flowers. Also could it be because of the air condition which is right above. I think I’m going to move it back by the fire place where it was getting just the right amount of sun light.

    Reply
    • Hi Susie! I’m glad you have new, healthy flowers on the plant. The browning could have been due to the air conditioning drying the flowers out, or they could be getting sunburt. How is your peace lily doing now?

      Reply
  10. I bought my peace lily at Lowe’s so I probably fall into the “mass produced” category. When I bought the plant it had 3 gorgeous flowers but a bunch of the leaves were very wrinkly. It very soon after that got brown tips so I started pruning and repotted it with a better draining soil. Within a just a couple of days I started seeing little brown holes and splits showed up on the leaves so I went to prune back again and found a rotten stem… is it possible to save this thing… unfortunately I had it next to my monstera which now is showing the same symptoms.

    Reply
    • This is the monstera and peace lily but unfortunately I pruned the really bad ones off the Lilly already. The brown spots/holes almost appeared overnight… should I separate from all of my other plants?

      Reply
      • Hi Joshua, I’m so sorry to hear about what’s going on with your plants. I don’t see any attached photos – could you upload those again? How are the plants doing now?

        Reply
  11. My peace lilly seems healthy but hasn’t been flowering. Is there anything I can do to encourage flower growth?

    Reply
    • Mary, I’m so sorry for your loss. Do you have a photo to attach? I’d love to help you restore your peace lily to vitality.

      Reply
  12. What’s eating the leaves of my giant peace lily? The monstera leaves next to it are being devoured also! Lily is in a giant ceramic pot. I’ve tried leaving beer out for slugs, but haven’t seen any.
    Help!

    Reply
    • Hi Anthea! What do the leaves look like? Are the holes large, small, etc? Can you send a photo? Also, I’m guessing you’re growing it indoors, but correct me if I’m wrong! I’d love to help with this issue.

      Reply
  13. I have a large peace lily. Recently I noticed some type of disease on the under side of the leaves and stems. They appear as small brown clusters. I tried to remove them with a wet cloth but I’m not sure if that is the right thing to do. Can you tell me how to treat this so I don’t lose my plant? I have photos that I can send.

    Reply
    • Hi Betty! Photos would be great. Do attach them to a comment here so I can see what’s going on with your plant.

      Reply

Leave a Comment