How Do You Prune a Peace Lily? – A Practical Guide

Pruning can make your houseplant look presentable and healthier by providing more room for new, healthy stalks to grow, but only if you do it right. So, how do you prune a peace lily?

The best method is to cut the wilted leaves or spent bracts at the base of the stalk with clean shears. You’ll know that it’s the right time to prune if the leaf is yellow or if the flower is brown and dried out.

Yes, it’s as simple as it sounds! Still, we’ve prepared a step-by-step guide for you in this article, along with the main benefits and handy tips, so stick around!

How Do You Prune a Peace Lily?

The peace lily (also known by the scientific name Spathiphyllum) is a popular ornamental plant. That said, you’ll still need to give it a pruning boost to keep it from looking dull and untamed.

So, if you think that you and your plant are ready to prune, bring out those shears and follow the steps below.

  1. Disinfect your pruning shears with isopropyl or ethanol alcohol, even if you’ve previously used it on a seemingly healthy plant.
  2. Trace the stalk of the wilted leaf or bract to the base.
  3. Trim as close to the base as you can get.
  4. Make a 45-degree angle when you cut so that water won’t stay on the stump.
  5. Repeat the steps until all the withered stems, leaves, or bracts are gone.

If, for some reason, you aren’t confident about pruning your peace lily just yet, you can opt for deadheading instead. This means cutting off only the bract instead of the entire stem.

However, you need to know that this alternative method isn’t always as effective as pruning. That’s because the spent stalk produces no more than one bract in its entire existence.

So, once it’s spent, it’s only a matter of time until it withers away. That means you’re still going to cut at the base, eventually, so you might as well do it sooner!

Why Prune Your Peace Lily?

Pruning 1

Pruning, as we all know, is a simple yet surefire way to keep your plants in good shape. So, how does that work?

Let’s expound on that.

Eliminates Competition for Nutrients

When there are too many leaves on your peace lily, the demand for nourishment will be high, and the supply from the pot may not be enough. Moreover, even a stalk that’s closer to its end may still take as much food as the younger ones.

So, why not get rid of the yellow leaves so that the thriving ones can make‌ the most out of the nutrients in the soil? Then, you can watch your peace lily’s leaves become greener and brighter!

Allows Even Distribution of Light

Besides the nutrients, the peace lily’s leaves could be fighting over light, too. In an overcrowded pot, the stalks in the inner area may not be getting the much-needed brightness for photosynthesis.

Pruning prevents congestion in the pot or plant box so that the light can reach every single leaf. Otherwise, the plant would be unable to produce chlorophyll, so the leaves would turn yellow or white.

Prevents Bacteria and Mold Formation

When shoots and stems are too close to each other, they could trap water at the base and become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. If this happens, it would be bad for both the plant and the occupants in the home.

Plus, the fungus can attack the peace lily from the root, and it wouldn’t be easy to notice if you have too many neglected stalks.

However, you can tell if your plant is suffering from the root if they display the following signs:

  • Wilting leaves
  • Black spots on the leaves
  • Dark brown or black stalks
  • Stems are weak and spongy
  • Foul odor coming from the plant

If you spot a stalk with the signs mentioned above, it might be time to prune the infected parts so that the disease doesn’t spread.

Deters Pests

Decaying plant matter could attract pests such as mealybugs and springtails. Usually, these insects appear if you over-water your plants.

Mealybugs typically start showing up as soon as the peace lily’s leaves begin to yellow. These insects typically hang out on the underside of the leaves and are usually white and cottony in appearance.

Springtails, in particular, feed on decaying plants but will nibble on delicate parts, like juvenile stalks and shoots. Therefore, timely pruning may prevent the accumulation of rotting matter and the pests that they attract.

Other pests that are known to attack peace lilies are aphids and spider mites.

If you notice sticky slime covering your plant, it’s probably infested with aphids. On the other hand, you’ll know that spider mites are present if you see webbing between the leaves.

Improves the Plant’s Appearance

If your peace lily is healthy, it’ll manifest flawless, dark green leaves, perky stalks, and firm roots. Of course, all these signs will be difficult to achieve in a congested pot.

So, with a simple prune, the foliage will look livelier without the dull browns and yellows!

Peace Lily

Friendly Reminders When Pruning Your Peace Lily

For a safe and successful pruning session, you might want to consider these three tips.

Know the Right Timing

There’s a right time for pruning, and it shouldn’t be too early or too late.

Cutting too soon may encourage multiple fresh growths, which may be a bit more difficult to maintain in the long run. On the flip side, waiting for wilted stalks to decay will only attract bacteria, fungi, and pests.

For good measure, start nipping as soon as the leaves’ edges begin to yellow. Usually, the outer leaves will need to go first since they’re the oldest of the bunch.

Remember that Safety Comes First

Practice safety precautions, such as wearing gloves during the pruning session. More importantly, make sure to dispose of cuttings properly. Don’t leave them on the pot or the floor where small children can reach them.

Be aware that these presumably harmless plants contain calcium oxalate crystals in their leaves, stems, and flowers. If the pruned bits are ingested, they can cause a burning sensation in the mouth.

In severe cases, the lips and the insides of the mouth could swell and result in difficulty breathing. If you ingest a part of the peace lily, try to stay calm and seek medical help immediately in case the symptoms worsen.

Practice Pruning Aftercare

Peace Lily close-up

Unfortunately, the pruning process doesn’t end after nipping the unwanted stalks. Since the main purpose here is to promote growth, you can conclude the activity by feeding the soil.

You can do this by adding compost to the soil or watering the peace lily with 20-20-20 garden fertilizer.

You might also try to improve the nutritional value of the soil by feeding it with more organic matter. Doing so can help boost the soil structure for more efficient water retention.

It’ll be like giving your peace lily a hearty meal after working hard trying to look pretty all day!

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this article has helped you know how, why, and when to prune a peace lily all by yourself.

Don’t worry about cutting the stalks at the base as this won’t hurt your plant. Instead, you’ll be giving it a fresh, new chance at a healthier life.

So, remember the step-by-step guide as well as the pruning tips and tricks to keep your peace lilies thriving and luscious!

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