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

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Peace lilies are one of the most popular houseplants because they are relatively easy to care for.

However, even the best gardeners can sometimes forget to water their plants and end up with an underwatered peace lily.

If you think your peace lily may be underwatered, here’s how to tell, treat it, and prevent it in the future.

What Are the Risks of Underwatering Peace Lily Plants?

Watering is one of the most important aspects of peace lily care.

Some important reasons peace lilies need water are to help the plant:

  • Transport nutrients from the soil to the leaves
  • Create food through photosynthesis
  • Maintain turgidity (or stiffness) in the leaves and stems
  • Promote new growth

If a peace lily doesn’t get enough water, the plant will start to experience a range of problems.

For example, an underwatered peace lily may:

1. Stop Growing

When a peace lily plant doesn’t have enough water, it will stop growing.

If you notice your peace lily isn’t putting out new leaves or flowers like it used to, lack of watering may be to blame.

The plant will also look smaller overall as the peace lily leaves and stems shrink.

2. Develop Root Rot

One of the most common problems with underwatered peace lilies is root rot.

Root rot is a condition that occurs when the plant’s roots start to decay.

This can happen if the roots sit in water for too long or do not get enough water.

If you think your peace lily has root rot, you’ll need to take it out of the pot and check the roots.

If they’re black or brown, root rot is likely the problem.

3. Become Susceptible to Pests and Diseases

Another issue with underwatered peace lilies is that they become more susceptible to pests and diseases.

When a plant is stressed, it cannot fight off pests and diseases as well as a healthy plant.

So, if your peace lily is underwatered, it may be more likely to get infested with pests or contract a disease.

Some common pests and diseases that affect peace lilies 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

If your peace lily isn’t getting enough water, you may also notice the plant experiencing flower and leaf drop.

This is when the peace lily flowers and leaves start to fall off.

Leaf drop can happen for various reasons, but one of the most common is lack of watering.

If you notice your peace lily is losing leaves or flowers, check the soil to see if it’s too dry.

5. Die

If a peace lily is allowed to stay too dry for too long, it will eventually die.

When a plant dies from lack of water, the leaves will turn yellow or brown and fall off.

The stems will also start to shrivel, and the plant will collapse.

If you think your peace lily is dying

How Does Underwatering a Peace Lily Occur?

Underwatering a peace lily can occur for a variety of reasons.

Some of the most common causes of underwatering include:

1. Not Checking the Soil Regularly

One of the main reasons peace lilies are underwatered because gardeners forget to check the soil regularly.

Peace lilies need to be watered when the top inch of soil is dry.

So, if you’re not checking the soil regularly, you may not realize it’s time to water the plant.

2. Watering Infrequently

Another cause of underwatering is watering the plant too infrequently.

Peace lilies need to be watered about once a week, depending on the size of the pot and the amount of light the plant is getting.

If you water the plant less often, it will experience the symptoms of underwatering.

3. Using the Wrong Soil

Another common cause of underwatering is using the wrong type of soil.

Peace lilies need light, well-draining potting soil.

So, the plant may not get enough water if you’re using heavy clay soil or a soil mix that doesn’t drain well.

4. Not Using Enough Water

When watering a peace lily, it’s essential to use enough water.

The plant must be watered until the water runs out of the bottom of the pot.

If you’re not using enough water, the plant will not be able to absorb all the moisture it needs.

5. Growing in a Pot that’s Too Small

Another cause of underwatering is growing the plant in a pot that’s too small.

As peace lilies grow, they need to be moved into larger pots.

If the plant is pot-bound, it will not be able to absorb enough water.

6. Placing in an Area with Low Humidity

Peace lilies need high humidity to thrive.

So, if you place the plant in an area with low humidity, it may not get enough moisture from the air.

7. Hot, Dry Weather

Hot, dry weather can also cause peace lilies to be underwatered.

During periods of hot, dry weather, it’s essential to water the plant more often to ensure it’s getting enough moisture.

Usually, peace lilies need to be watered once a week, but during hot, dry weather, they may need to be watered twice a week.

During hot weather, it’s also a good idea to mist the plant with water to help increase the humidity around the plant.

8. Poor Drainage

Poor drainage is another common cause of underwatering.

Peace lilies need well-draining soil, so the roots don’t sit in water.

If the roots are sitting in water, they will not be able to absorb enough moisture.

To prevent poor drainage, ensure you’re using a light, well-draining soil and that the pot has a hole in the bottom for water to drain out.

9. Too Much Sunlight

Peace lilies need bright indirect light to thrive.

If the plant is getting too much sun, it will lose moisture faster than it can absorb it.

To prevent too much sunlight, ensure the plant is in an area with bright indirect sunlight.

Ensure that the plant is not in direct sunlight, especially during the hot summer months.

10. Disease or Pest Damage

Disease or pest damage can also cause underwatering.

If the plant is infested with pests, they may damage the roots and prevent the plant from absorbing water.

If the plant has a disease, it may not be able to absorb water properly.

To prevent disease or pest damage, ensure you’re using a well-draining soil and that the plant is in an area with good air circulation.

How To Tell If Your Peace Lily Is Underwatered

To be able to help your underwatered peace lily, you need to be able to identify the symptoms.

Although the symptoms of an overwatered peace lily may be similar, there are some key differences that you can look for.

Identifying the signs of underwatering will help you quickly and easily tell if your plant is underwatered and needs help.

Signs of an Underwatered Peace Lily

You can look for several signs to tell if your peace lily is underwatered.

1. Dry and Crumbly Soil

The first sign of underwatering is dry, crumbly soil. The plant is not getting enough water if the soil is dry and crumbly.

To check the moisture level of the soil, stick your finger into the soil. If the soil is dry, it will be crumbly and will not stick to your finger.

2. Drooping Leaves

Another sign of underwatering is drooping leaves.

When the plant doesn’t have enough water, the peace lily leaves will start to droop.

The leaves will be limp and will hang down from the plant.

This happens because the plant cannot absorb enough water to keep the leaves upright.

3. Yellow Leaves

Yellowing leaves are also a sign of underwatering.

When the plant doesn’t have enough water, the leaves will start to turn yellow and brown.

The edges of the leaves may also be dry and crispy.

Although some peace lilies will have yellow leaves due to the natural aging process, if the leaves are yellow and brown and the plant is drooping, it’s a sign that the plant is underwatered.

4. Brown Spots on Leaves

Brown spots on the leaves are another sign of underwatering.

When the plant doesn’t have enough water, the peace lily leaves will start to turn brown and dry.

The brown spots will be dry and crispy.

If the brown spots are on the edges of the leaves, it’s a sign that the plant is not getting enough water.

5. Wilting Flowers

Wilting flowers are another sign of underwatering.

When the plant doesn’t have enough water, the flowers will start to wilt and turn brown.

The flowers will be limp and will hang down from the plant.

If the flowers are wilting, it’s a sign that the plant is not getting enough water.

6. Slow Growth

Slow growth is another sign of underwatering.

The growth will slow down when the plant doesn’t have enough water.

The plant may not produce new leaves or flowers as quickly as it usually does.

If the plant’s growth has slowed down, it’s a sign that it is not getting enough water.

7. Curling Leaves

Curling leaves are another sign of underwatering.

When the plant doesn’t have enough water, the leaves will start to curl up.

The edges of the leaves may also be dry and crispy.

If the peace lily leaves are curling, it’s a sign that the plant is not getting enough water.

8. Dropping Leaves

Dropping leaves is another sign of underwatering.

When the plant doesn’t have enough water, the leaves will start to fall off.

The leaves will be dry and crispy.

If the leaves are falling off, it’s a sign that the plant is not getting enough water.

9. Soft Stems

Soft stems are another sign of underwatering.

The stems will become soft and weak when the plant doesn’t have enough water.

The stems may also be yellow or brown.

If the stems are soft, it’s a sign that the plant is not getting enough water.

10. Root Rot

Peace lily root rot is another sign of underwatering.

When the plant doesn’t have enough water, the roots will start to rot.

The roots will be brown and mushy.

It’s essential to check the roots regularly to make sure they’re not rotting.

If the roots are rotting, it’s a sign that the plant is not getting enough water.

How To Revive an Underwatered Peace Lily

If you think your peace lily is underwatered, there are some things you can do to revive it.

1. Water the Plant Deeply and Thoroughly

The first thing you need to do is water the plant deeply and thoroughly.

Water the plant until the soil is saturated and the water is draining out of the bottom of the pot.

Ensure the plant gets enough water by watering it deeply and thoroughly every week.

2. Move the Plant to a Humid Location

Another thing you can do to revive an underwatered peace lily is to move it to a humid location.

Peace lilies prefer humid conditions, so moving the plant to a location with higher humidity will help it to recover.

3. Increase the Humidity Around the Plant

If you can’t move the plant to a more humid location, you can increase the humidity around it by misting it with water or placing it on a pebble tray.

Misting the plant with water will help to increase the humidity around it and prevent the leaves from drying out.

Also, placing the plant on a pebble tray will help to increase the humidity around it.

To do this, place a layer of pebbles in a tray and add water so that the pebbles are saturated.

Then, place the plant on top of the pebbles.

The water will evaporate and increase the humidity around the plant.

4. Let the Soil Dry Out Between Waterings

Another thing you can do to revive an underwatered peace lily is to let the soil dry out between waterings.

Peace lilies like to have moist soil, but they don’t like to be waterlogged.

Allowing the soil to dry out between waterings will help to prevent the roots from rotting.

To do this, water the plant and let the soil dry out completely before watering it again.

5. Repot the Plant in Fresh Soil

If the plant is still not recovering, you may need to repot it in fresh soil.

Over time, the soil becomes compacted and doesn’t allow the roots to breathe.

This can cause the plant to become stressed and unable to absorb water.

Remove it from its pot and replant it in fresh, well-draining soil to repot the plant.

6. Use a Pot with Drainage Holes

Another thing you can do to help an underwatered peace lily is to use a pot with drainage holes.

Peace lilies prefer to have moist soil, but they don’t like to be waterlogged.

A pot with drainage holes will help prevent the roots from rotting.

7. Use a Well-Draining Soil

Another thing you can do to help an underwatered peace lily is to use a well-draining soil.

Soils that don’t drain well can cause the roots to rot.

Mix it with some perlite or sand to ensure the soil drains well.

You can also add some organic matter to the soil to help it drain well.

8. Prune Damage Leaves

If the indoor plant leaves are damaged, you can prune them off.

Leaves that are damaged by underwatering will be yellow or brown.

They may also be wilted or soft.

Pruning off the damaged leaves will help the plant to focus its energy on new growth.

9. Be Patient

Finally, be patient.

It can take time for an underwatered peace lily to recover.

If you follow the above steps, the plant will eventually recover and grow again.

How To Prevent Underwatering a Peace Lily Plant?

The best way to prevent underwatering your peace lily plant is to water it regularly and deeply.

Allow the topsoil to dry out completely before watering again.

Peace lilies are tropical plants and prefer humid conditions, so misting the leaves with distilled water can help prevent underwatering.

Peace lily plants need to be watered about once a week, depending on the temperature and humidity of your home.

During the winter months, when growth slows down, you may only need to water your peace lily every two weeks.

Water your peace lily in the morning, so the leaves have time to dry out before nightfall.

Use lukewarm water and soak the soil until water starts draining from the bottom of the pot.

Don’t let your peace lily sit in water, leading to root rot.

It’s also best to use distilled or filtered water to avoid fluoride and other chemicals that can damage the plant.

If you can’t use distilled water, let the tap water sit out overnight to allow the chemicals to evaporate.

Fertilize your peace lily every two to four weeks during the growing season with a water-soluble fertilizer.

Be sure to dilute the fertilizer according to the package directions, as too much fertilizer can burn the roots.

Stop fertilizing in the fall and winter when growth slows down.

In addition to watering and fertilizing regularly, you can also help prevent underwatering by placing your peace lily in a humid environment.

Peace lilies prefer humid conditions and will thrive in a bathroom or kitchen where there is steam from cooking or showering.

You can also mist the leaves with distilled water to increase humidity.

If you live in a dry climate, you may need a humidifier to keep the air around your peace lily moist.

Final Thoughts

Peace lily plants are beautiful, easy-to-care-for houseplants.

They are known for their ability to thrive in low-light conditions and tolerate neglect.

However, peace lilies can suffer from underwatering if they don’t receive enough water.

Fortunately, there are some telltale signs that your peace lily is underwatered.

These include wilting leaves, dry soil, and brown leaf tips.

If you catch the problem early, you can often save your peace lily with simple watering techniques.

To prevent underwatering in the future, make sure to water your peace lily regularly and check the soil before watering to ensure it is dry.