Spathiphyllum (Spathiphyllum commutatum) is a classic indoor plant grown for its lush green strappy leaves and long-lasting white flowers. The flowers are spathes and consist of a large white ‘petal’ that wraps like a hood around a central spike or spadex. The flowers are held on stiff stems above the green leaves and last for weeks. They can occur throughout the year.
It’s best known as a peace lily or Madonna lily and grows happily in homes or offices in a brightly-lit spot. In warm, frost-free gardens it can also be planted in a shaded garden or grown in a courtyard.
Care and troubleshooting
Care couldn’t be easier. Place plants in a brightly-lit spot, which is sheltered from draughts. Water when the potting mix is dry to the touch and don’t allow pots to sit in water. Plants that have become overly dry will wilt. These pots may need to be soaked in water to rehydrate the potting mix and allow the plant to revive.
Dust the leaves from time to time and repot when the plant becomes too large for its container. Use a good quality potting mix and fertilise with liquid fertiliser occasionally when the plant has new growth. Remove dead blooms and leaves, cutting them at the base.
Black leaf edges or black leaves and stems indicate overwatering and wet soil conditions. Check that drainage holes in the base of the pot are not blocked and cut back on watering. Cut off discoloured leaves, removing them at the base.
Brown leaf edges or spots may result from overwatering or exposure to draughts, airconditioning or heating. Remove discoloured leaves and relocate the plant to a more sheltered position.
Frequent wilting may indicate that plant has outgrown its potting mix and needs to be repotted into a slightly larger pot with fresh potting mix.
Fungal gnats may breed in overly wet potting mix. These pests are seen as small ‘flies’ hovering around plants. Avoid overwatering and allow wet mix to dry out. Repotting in good quality potting mix may help reduce pest numbers.
The most frequently encountered spathiphyllum is a small, leafy plant that grows to around 40cm high. Due to its popularity and easy growth, there are several varieties of spathiphyllum available that offer a range of plant sizes and leaf types. Choose the one that suits your space and décor.
A medium-size leafy plant that grows 30-60cm high and wide with dark green leaves and white flowers.
This large peace lily has dramatically variegated green and white leaves with large white flowers. Plants grow 60-90cm high and wide.
With large green leaves and tall stems of bright white flowers held well above the foliage, this variety makes a striking indoor feature. Plants grow 75cm high and 60cm wide.
The pretty platinum (silvery white) leaves of this spathiphyllum make an eye-catching feature indoors or in a garden. The white flowers stand above the leaves. Plants grow up to 1m high and wide.
One of the smallest and most compact peace lilies growing to just 15-20cm high and wide with fine leaves.
One of the largest and boldest of all the spathiphyllums, ‘Sensation’ has broad dark green leaves with distinctive ribbing. This variety has large white flowers. Fully grown it is 1m high and wide. Best in a 30cm plus pot. Other large varieties include ‘Mauna Loa’.