Underwatered Peace Lily: How To Identify, Treat & Prevent It


An underwatered peace lily is a common problem that can be easily fixed by giving the plant a deep watering. One way to do this is by soaking the peace lily in a sink or basin of water for at least 10 minutes. This will allow the plant to absorb the water it needs and revive the drooping leaves and stems caused by dehydration.

Many people enjoy growing peace lilies as houseplants due to their ability to thrive with minimal effort.

Unfortunately, even the most experienced gardeners can forget to water their plants and end up with an underwatered peace lily.

To help identify, treat, and prevent this problem in the future, it is important to understand how to tell if your peace lily is underwatered.

What Are the Risks of Underwatering Peace Lily Plants?

Watering is a critical element of caring for peace lilies, and this process is so important for several reasons.

First, water enables the plant to transport essential nutrients from the soil to the leaves for photosynthesis, which produces energy for the plant’s growth.

It also supports turgidity in the stems and leaves, keeping them firm and healthy. Lastly, water helps promote new growth in the peace lily.

However, an absence of adequate water will cause a range of issues for the plant. These include:

1. Stop Growing

A peace lily plant will cease to grow when it’s not receiving enough water.

If you’ve noticed that your peace lily is no longer flourishing like it once was, the lack of water could be the cause.

The leaves and stems of the plant will become noticeably smaller and its overall size will decrease too. Additionally, the production of new leaves and flowers will cease.

2. Develop Root Rot

The roots of a peace lily can start to decay if they are not provided with the necessary hydration, leading to root rot.

This is an all-too-common occurrence that can cause distress to the plant if left unaddressed.

To determine if this is the source of your plant’s issues, it is important to carefully remove it from its pot and inspect the roots. If they appear black or brown, root rot is likely the culprit.

3. Become Susceptible to Pests and Diseases

When it comes to underwatered peace lilies, the consequences can be severe.

Not only will the plant struggle to absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil, but it can also become more vulnerable to pests and diseases.

Stress caused by inadequate watering weakens a peace lily’s ability to defend itself against foreign invaders, making it more likely to succumb to infestations or infections.

Common pests and diseases that may affect an underwatered peace lily include:

  • Fungal diseases like powdery mildew and botrytis
  • Bacterial diseases like bacterial leaf spot and Pseudomonas cichorii
  • Pests like aphids, mealybugs, and whiteflies

4. Experience Flower & Leaf Drop

When your peace lily isn’t getting enough water, it can succumb to flower and leaf drop. This occurs when the plant’s flowers and leaves start to wilt and fall off, usually due to insufficient hydration.

If you observe this happening with your peace lily, it’s likely that the soil is too dry; checking for this can help you determine the cause of leaf drop.

5. Die

Lack of water can be fatal for a peace lily, leading to its eventual death.

If not hydrated properly, the plant will exhibit signs indicating it is drying out – its leaves will yellow or brown and slowly drop off, while its stems start to shrink and become more brittle.

Eventually, the entire plant can collapse if it is deprived of water for too long.

How Does Underwatering a Peace Lily Occur?

Inadequate watering is a frequent contributor to the demise of peace lilies, as these plants require consistent hydration to thrive.

Without enough water, the foliage can begin to brown and become limp, wilted and otherwise unhealthy.

There are numerous explanations for why peace lilies may not be receiving the proper amount of moisture they need, such as:

1. Not Checking the Soil Regularly

Gardeners often forget to check the soil regularly when it comes to watering peace lilies, resulting in them becoming underwatered.

To ensure the proper care and hydration of these plants, gardeners should ensure that they are checking the top inch of soil at least once a week or as soon as it looks dry.

When monitoring the soil, if it is found to be dry, the plant should be immediately watered.

2. Watering Infrequently

When it comes to underwatering your peace lily, one of the most common causes is not providing it with enough water on a consistent basis.

The frequency of watering will depend on the size of the pot and how much light it is receiving, but most experts agree that they should be watered at least once a week.

If you fail to provide your peace lily with enough water on a regular basis, it will show the classic signs of underwatering.

3. Using the Wrong Soil

Using the wrong soil can often be a major factor in underwatering a peace lily.

To ensure the plant gets all the water it needs, it is important to select light, well-draining potting soil that will allow moisture to penetrate and move quickly through the root zone.

If heavier or clumpy clay soils are employed, or if a soil mix does not drain properly, then the plant may suffer from insufficient hydration.

4. Not Using Enough Water

When it comes to watering a peace lily, the importance of using adequate amounts of water cannot be overstated.

To ensure that the plant receives all the hydration it requires, it is essential that you pour enough water onto the soil until it begins to drain out from the bottom of its pot.

Failing to provide sufficient moisture could have detrimental effects on the plant.

5. Growing in a Pot that’s Too Small

One of the most common problems faced by peace lily growers is underwatering, which can result from having the plant in a pot that is too small.

As peace lilies grow, they need to be placed in larger pots that are more accommodating to their size and allow them to absorb enough water for their continued growth and health.

When plants are pot-bound, they may be unable to adequately absorb the water they need.

6. Placing in an Area with Low Humidity

In order to ensure its optimal health, a peace lily requires a consistently high level of humidity.

Without this moisture from the air, the plant may start to suffer, displaying signs such as wilting or yellowing leaves.

To guarantee it is provided with enough moisture, it should be placed in an area where the relative humidity is at least 60%.

7. Hot, Dry Weather

In hot and dry weather, it is essential to provide peace lilies with increased hydration.

Instead of the regular once-a-week watering schedule, they need to be watered twice a week or more in order to ensure they receive the necessary moisture.

Additionally, misting the plant with water can help raise humidity levels around it and keep it healthy.

8. Poor Drainage

Poor drainage can be a leading cause of underwatering in peace lilies, as the roots need to be able to absorb the proper amount of moisture.

To ensure your peace lily is not experiencing this issue, make sure the soil used is light and allows for adequate drainage.

There should also be a hole in the bottom of the pot to allow for the water to drain out.

9. Too Much Sunlight

Bright indirect light is essential for the thriving of peace lilies. Too much sun can cause a rapid loss of moisture which is difficult for the plant to replace.

To prevent this, it is important to ensure that the plant is in an area with access to plenty of bright, indirect sunlight but that it never receives direct sunlight, especially during summer months.

10. Disease or Pest Damage

Plants can suffer from underwatering if they are affected by disease or pest damage.

To prevent this, it is important to use well-draining soil and provide the plant with an area of good air circulation. This can help avoid any destructive effects that pests and diseases may have on a plant’s ability to absorb water correctly.

Pests and diseases can damage the roots, thus preventing the plant from taking in water.

How To Tell If Your Peace Lily Is Underwatered

By recognizing the signs of an underwatered peace lily, you can quickly identify if your plant needs help.

Symptoms of an underwatered peace lily can include:

Signs of an Underwatered Peace Lily

If your peace lily is showing signs of being underwatered, there are a few key indicators that you can look for.

1. Dry and Crumbly Soil

When it comes to underwatering, one of the most telling signs is dry and crumbly soil. This means that the plant is not receiving sufficient amounts of water.

To ascertain the moisture level of the soil, you can simply insert your finger into the ground – if it feels dry and crumbly, with no stickiness, then it is a sign that the plant needs water.

2. Drooping Leaves

When underwatering occurs, the peace lily leaves will begin to sag and hang limply from the plant. This happens as the plant is unable to absorb enough water to retain sufficient rigidity in its foliage.

If this condition persists for too long, the leaves can yellow and die. The drooping of the peace lily leaves is a tell-tale sign that your plant needs water.

3. Yellow Leaves

When a peace lily is suffering from underwatering, it is easy to tell due to the unmistakable yellowing and browning of its leaves.

The edges of the foliage may become dry and crisp as well, adding further evidence that the plant needs more moisture.

Peace lily leaf yellowing can be caused by natural aging but if it is coupled with the wilting of the plant, then it is most likely an indication of underwatering.

4. Brown Spots on Leaves

When a peace lily is not receiving enough water, it can be easily identified by the presence of brown spots on the leaves.

These spots will appear dry and crispy, typically concentrated towards the edges of the leaves. This indicates that the plant is not getting enough water to maintain its health and sustain its growth.

Underwatering may also cause the peace lily leaves to turn brown and dry over time.

5. Wilting Flowers

When plants are not given enough water, their flowers will begin to wilt and turn brown.

Wilting is characterized by the limpness of the petals, causing them to hang down from the plant instead of standing upright.

This is a surefire sign that the plant is being underwatered and requires more water in order to thrive.

6. Slow Growth

Plants that don’t receive adequate hydration may experience signs of underwatering, including slowed growth.

When a plant lacks an adequate amount of water, its development might not progress at the same rate as usual. New growth will be minimal or nonexistent, with limited leaves or flowers forming.

Slowed growth is a clear indicator that the plant is not getting enough water.

7. Curling Leaves

When the plant does not receive enough water, its leaves become curled up. This is an obvious sign of underwatering and can be easily identified.

The edges of the leaves may appear dry and brittle, making them more prone to curling. If the peace lily’s leaves are curling, it is essential to check that the plant has enough water.

8. Dropping Leaves

When a plant is not receiving adequate water, it can often indicate its distress through the dropping of its leaves.

These leaves will typically be dry and brittle to the touch, showcasing the signs of dehydration.

If you notice that your plant’s foliage has begun to wither and fall off, it is strongly recommended that you take immediate action and provide them with the necessary hydration.

9. Soft Stems

Plants that don’t receive enough water may begin to display a number of signs, one of which is soft stems. This condition can be identified when the stems become weak and start to look yellow or brown.

If the stems of a plant appear to be soft, this is an indication that it is not receiving an adequate amount of water. Soft stems can also be a sign of overwatering.

So it’s important to check in with your plant and make sure that you are giving the right amount of water.

10. Root Rot

When underwatering is present, the peace lily is at risk of root rot which is easily identifiable due to the discoloration of the roots.

The affected area will usually appear brown and become mushy when touched. It’s crucial to inspect the roots of the plant on a regular basis in order to detect any signs of root rot in the early stages.

If root rot is present, this indicates that the plant has not been receiving enough water.

How To Revive an Underwatered Peace Lily

If you believe your peace lily is not getting the hydration it needs, there are steps you can take to help it get back on track.

1. Water the Plant Deeply and Thoroughly

Thoroughly and deeply watering the plant is a must when caring for it.

To ensure that the soil is saturated and that water is able to drain out of the bottom of the pot, you will need to give your plant a good drink every week.

Make sure that you water it deeply; not just enough to wet the top layer of soil. This will help the roots to absorb the water they need to keep your plant healthy.

2. Move the Plant to a Humid Location

The peace lily can be revived from underwatered conditions by moving it to a more humid environment.

Peace lilies thrive in humid conditions, and so, relocation to a location with higher levels of moisture and humidity will help them recover. This is because the higher level of moisture in the air around them gives them the right amount of hydration for healthy growth.

3. Increase the Humidity Around the Plant

Misting your plant with water and placing it on a pebble tray are two effective ways to increase the humidity in the surrounding area. This can help prevent the leaves from drying out and ensure that it receives adequate moisture.

To create a pebble tray, start by filling a tray with an even layer of small stones, such as river rocks or aquarium gravel.

Once you have filled the tray, add enough water to completely saturated the pebbles.

Finally, place your plant on top of the pebbles and allow the water to evaporate over time. This will not only add extra moisture to your plant’s environment but will also serve as a natural humidifier that helps maintain healthy humidity levels around it.

In addition, using a pebble tray is beneficial because it reduces the risk of overwatering your peace lily due to evaporation.

Furthermore, it can help clean toxins from the air while providing much-needed additional moisture for your plants.

4. Let the Soil Dry Out Between Waterings

When it comes to reviving an underwatered peace lily, one of the best methods is to ensure that the soil is not waterlogged between waterings.

To achieve this, thoroughly drench the soil with water and then let it dry out completely before giving it another drink. Doing so helps protect the roots from rotting caused by too much moisture.

5. Repot the Plant in Fresh Soil

Repotting a plant in fresh soil is an important step for restoring its health if it has been suffering from a lack of vigor.

The process involves carefully extracting the plant from its pot and replanting it in a new, well-draining medium that will provide space for the roots to breathe.

Over time, the soil within containers can become compacted, making it difficult for the roots to absorb water and nutrients. Repotting can be a successful method to help the plant regain its health.

6. Use a Pot with Drainage Holes

It is important to take preventative measures to ensure an underwatered peace lily can receive adequate hydration and avoid root rot.

One way to do this is by utilizing a pot with drainage holes. This type of planter ensures that the soil remains moist, but not waterlogged.

When water is applied, it will be absorbed, but excess can be drained away.

7. Use a Well-Draining Soil

To help an underwatered peace lily, one should incorporate a well-draining soil in its growing environment.

Mixing the soil with perlite or sand is essential to ensure proper drainage and prevent root rot while adding organic matter will aid in drainage and provide necessary nutrients.

As water drains out of the pot, it carries away the fertilizers and other nutrients that the plant needs for growth.

8. Prune Damage Leaves

Watering too little can cause your indoor plant leaves to become weak and wilted, with yellow or brown patches appearing on them.

It is important to prune off these damaged leaves to help the plant recover its vitality and focus energy on new growth. This removes any dead or dying foliage from the plant, allowing it to direct its energy toward healthier areas.

9. Be Patient

It can take some time for an underwatered peace lily to bounce back, but you can help the plant get back on track with patience and care.

To start off, give it a thorough watering, making sure that the soil is completely saturated. Then make sure your peace lily is in a spot that receives plenty of indirect sunlight.

Finally, be patient, and with your care, the plant will eventually recover and start to grow again.

How To Prevent Underwatering a Peace Lily Plant?

Watering your peace lily regularly and deeply is essential for maintaining its health.

Allow the topsoil to dry out completely between waterings, which should be done approximately once a week during the warmer months, depending on the temperature and humidity of the home.

Water in the morning and use lukewarm water – never let your peace lily sit in water as it can cause root rot.

To avoid damage from fluoride and other chemicals, use distilled or filtered water, or allow tap water to sit out overnight before using it.

Fertilize with a diluted water-soluble fertilizer every two to four weeks during its growing season, but stop fertilizing in fall and winter when growth slows down.

Peace lilies prefer humid conditions so misting their leaves with distilled water can help prevent underwatering and placing them in a humid environment such as a bathroom or kitchen can also promote healthy growth.

If you live in an area with low humidity, you may need to invest in a humidifier for your peace lily’s benefit.

By following these guidelines consistently, you’ll ensure that your peace lily remains healthy and vibrant for years to come!

Final Thoughts

The peace lily is a beautiful, easy-to-care-for houseplant renowned for its ability to live in low light conditions and survive periods of neglect.

Unfortunately, like all plants, the peace lily needs water to stay healthy and can suffer from underwatering if it does not get enough hydration.

Check for wilting leaves, dry soil, and browning leaf tips to identify when your peace lily is dehydrated.

If you catch the problem in time, it’s usually possible to save the plant with proper watering techniques.

To ensure that no further underwatering occurs, make sure to regularly check the soil before you water and give your peace lily enough hydration so that it can remain strong and healthy.

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