Peace lily root rot is a common problem that peace lilies can face if they are overwatered.
Root rot causes the roots to die and rot, which spreads to other roots quickly. This causes the leaves to droop initially, then turn yellow and brown and slowly die.
In this article, I’ll take you through precisely what root rot is, how it affects peace lilies, signs to look out for, and much more from my experience of keeping peace lilies for years.
Let’s get straight into it.
- What Is Root Rot?
- Symptoms Of Peace Lily Root Rot
- Causes Of Root Rot In Peace Lily
- How To Treat Peace Lily Root Rot
- Preventing Peace Lily Root Rot
- In Summary
What Is Root Rot?
It is mainly caused by waterlogged soil and the presence of certain fungi, such as Phytophthora.
When the soil becomes overly saturated and lacks proper drainage, it creates an environment where fungi like Phytophthora can thrive, leading to the decay of the plant’s roots.
Roots can also suffocate in excess water due to a lack of oxygen and start to rot as they die, which then spreads to other roots.
Does Root Rot Kill Peace Lilies?
Yes, root rot can be fatal for peace lilies if left untreated.
This is because root rot will eventually affect all of the roots, and without roots, a peace lily obviously cannot survive. The rot will also quickly spread into other parts of the plant like the stem as well.
It’s crucial that you recognize the symptoms early on to take action and save your plant. Some common symptoms are listed below:
- Drooping leaves
- Musty smell
- Discolored leaves
Symptoms Of Peace Lily Root Rot
Knowing the symptoms to look out for is incredibly important, so let’s take a deeper dive into them.
The first symptom you might notice is wilting leaves.
Even if the roots haven’t started to rot, they will struggle to transport nutrients and moisture to the leaves if the soil is overwatered.
This quickly affects the leaves and causes them to wilt, which can be a challenge, specifically for peace lilies, as we all know how much they can wilt when they are not watered.
You may end up watering your peace lily when it actually needs the opposite, so what other signs can you look out for?
Another common symptom of root rot in peace lilies is the yellowing of leaves.
This discoloration is the result of the plant being unable to absorb nutrients because of the damaged roots. As the situation worsens, your peace lily might also exhibit stunted growth.
This is an excellent way to differentiate between overwatering and your peace lily simply needing some hydration.
Brown and Black Spots
Look out for brown and black spots on the leaves, which may indicate that root rot is affecting your peace lily.
These spots usually appear when the plant struggles to fight the rot, and they can worsen if the problem isn’t resolved quickly.
Saturated soil is a telltale sign of overwatering.
If you take a look closely at the soil of your peace lily, the surface should look dry (like mine, pictured above).
If you can visibly see water and moisture at the surface a long time after watering, then the soil is overwatered. At this stage, the best thing to do is stop watering and let the plant process the water.
Mushy, Discolored & Foul Smelling Roots
If you still aren’t sure whether your peace lily is suffering from root rot, it’s time to inspect the roots so you can know for sure.
If the roots are mushy, changing color to black and brown, or emitting a foul odor, they are rotten.
Causes Of Root Rot In Peace Lily
You may think that root rot is only caused by overwatering, and while this is true, several factors make it much more likely to occur.
There’s no denying that overwatering is the main reason for root rot in peace lilies.
Peace lilies can be tricky to water because of how dramatic they are. It seems like the leaves wilt almost every day, so it can be tempting to water them very often to keep them happy.
In my experience, the best thing to do is water the soil when the top inch becomes dry.
It’s also crucial to ensure your soil mix drains well and the pot has drainage holes in the bottom.
Poor drainage can make overwatering much more likely to happen.
This one is important to consider because you might be watering your peace lily appropriately but still overwatering due to the soil and lack of drainage holes.
Drainage holes are crucial because they allow excess water to flow out of the bottom rather than suffocate the roots.
If the pot your peace lily is in lacks proper drainage holes, water can accumulate at the bottom of the pot, leading to soggy conditions and promoting root rot.
Use a pot with adequate drainage holes to prevent water from stagnating and encourage fungal infection in your plant.
The soil you use for your peace lily also plays a crucial role in ensuring proper drainage.
Heavy, compacted soil can retain too much water and hinder proper aeration, while a well-draining soil mix can help prevent root rot by allowing water to flow through while retaining essential moisture.
I’ve found that succulent soil mixes work well for peace lilies, but if you want to make your own mix, you can use compost with added perlite, bark, or sand to improve drainage.
How To Treat Peace Lily Root Rot
It’s all well and good knowing the signs and causes of root rot, but what can you do if root rot is affecting your peace lily?
Depending on the severity, there may or may not be a chance that you can save your plant.
Inspect The Roots And Prune
First, remove your peace lily from its pot and gently shake off the excess soil.
This will allow you to inspect the roots for any signs of rot. Look for discolored, mushy, or foul-smelling sections. Using clean shears, prune away the damaged roots.
At this stage, you’ll have a good idea of the chances of recovery. If a good amount of healthy roots are left, then there’s a very high chance of revival.
The remaining healthy roots will need to be treated with a fungicide to fight against any root rot that may still be present.
Uae a houseplant root rot fungicide solution and follow the instructions on the label for application.
Next, prepare a new pot with well-draining potting soil. Succulent soil works well for this, or you can use a mixture of potting soil with perlite, bark, or sand for improved drainage.
Using a fresh potting mix is important because it prevents fungi in the old soil from spreading into the healthy roots.
Place your peace lily in the new pot and carefully backfill it with soil, making sure not to compact it too much.
Remember to properly care for your peace lily after treatment, including providing adequate light, humidity, and well-draining soil.
By keeping your peace lily in a healthy environment, you’ll substantially reduce the chances of root rot recurring.
Preventing Peace Lily Root Rot
It’s much easier to prevent peace lily root rot in the first place than deal with the consequences.
After years of keeping peace lilies, I’ve figured out the easiest things you can do to make worrying about root rot a thing of the past. Here are my top tips:
I actively avoid following a schedule when watering my peace lily because the water requirements vary greatly depending on the weather and other factors.
The easiest thing to do is to check the soil every few days and water when the top inch of soil dries out. This usually coincides with the leaves wilting and looking unhappy.
This keeps things simple and ensures you aren’t providing too much or too little water.
Appropriate Potting Soil And Drainage
Ensure there are several drainage holes in your peace lily pot to allow excess water to flow out, and use a well-draining soil mix as well.
Be Mindful Of The Season
In the summer, your peace lily will require much more water than during the winter.
This is completely normal, but it’s why overwatering is so common during the winter and underwatering during the summer.
Peace lily root rot needs to be dealt with quickly before your lily suffers too much damage that it can’t recover from.
I recommend checking up on your peace lily once or twice a week by looking at the soil closely and the condition of the leaves. This way, you can spot the signs of root rot early on and deal with it simply by not watering your peace lily for a short while.
In severe cases, repotting will be necessary, but there should hopefully still be some healthy roots that can be treated with fungicide and allow the rest of the plant to survive. Pruning down during this time is helpful as it will be difficult for the few remaining roots to support the whole plant.
Want to learn more about peace lilies? Check out some of our other articles on this incredible plant below: