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.

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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.

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Christina Kennedy
Christina Kennedy (@guest_11237)
8 months ago

My peace Lilly has orange looking bands on the middle of the stems. I don’t know what’s wrong with it.

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Kinjal
Kinjal (@guest_11240)
8 months ago

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

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Kinjal
Kinjal (@guest_11335)
Reply to  Helga George, PhD
8 months ago

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?

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Teresa
Teresa (@guest_11266)
8 months ago

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.

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Lei
Lei (@guest_11357)
8 months ago

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!

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Frances Herndon
Frances Herndon (@guest_11388)
7 months ago

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

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Frances Herndon
Frances Herndon (@guest_11392)
Reply to  Helga George, PhD
7 months ago

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

Frances Herndon
Frances Herndon (@guest_11396)
Reply to  Helga George, PhD
7 months ago

Ok thanks cut the whole leaf with the brown spots

Frances Herndon
Frances Herndon (@guest_11399)
Reply to  Helga George, PhD
7 months ago

Thanks for everything and for the faith that you have

Shaquanna Metcalf
Shaquanna Metcalf (@guest_11422)
7 months ago

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… Read more »

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Shaquanna Metcalf
Shaquanna Metcalf (@guest_12792)
Reply to  Helga George, PhD
4 months ago

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!

DANITAKAY BANNINGGAMLYN
DANITAKAY BANNINGGAMLYN (@guest_11478)
7 months ago

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP MY PEACE LILY BLOOM?

Gladys murillo
Gladys murillo (@guest_11495)
7 months ago

My peace lily was so beaitiful and noticed it looking sad yesterday and today its worse

Nilda Rambla
Nilda Rambla (@guest_12172)
5 months ago

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

Connie Lantis
Connie Lantis (@guest_12203)
5 months ago

My Lilly is sick?

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Connie Lantis
Connie Lantis (@guest_12204)
Reply to  Connie Lantis
5 months ago

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

Laura Ojeda Melchor
Laura Ojeda Melchor (@lauramelchor)
Member
Reply to  Connie Lantis
5 months ago

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… Read more »