Green, lush leaves and white flowers that look like white flags are the peace lily’s (Spathiphyllum) signature look. This plant is so beautiful that even people who don’t consider themselves plant-people have them in their homes. However, sometimes peace lilies get leggy and unattractive.
Your peace lily gets leggy when it isn’t getting enough sunlight. The stems grow tall and appear stretched because the plant is seeking light. Move your peace lily to a spot with bright or medium, indirect light. You should also prune the stems to about a third of its length, just above the node.
A leggy peace lily is not as attractive as the lush ones. However, you can quickly fix this problem if you move it to a better spot. I’ll discuss the light requirements and how to tell when sunlight is too much, enough, or too little.
Why Your Peace Lily Is Thin and Leggy
When your peace lily gets thin and leggy, it is natural to be concerned. Some people even assume they don’t have a green thumb and give up entirely on indoor plants. However, a leggy peace lily reveals more about its present location and less about the care you give it.
Here are the reasons why your peace lily is leggy.
It Is Not Getting Enough Light
The primary reason your peace lily is leggy is that it needs more light. Peace lilies thrive in bright or medium indirect light.
If the light is bright or direct, the leaves will turn yellow. However, if the light is too low, they will become leggy.
Move your peace lily to a spot with brighter but indirect light. If the peace lily uses the light from a north-facing window, move it to a south-facing window because it usually has more intense light.
If the stems have become too long, you can prune the peace lily to about one-third of their length. Ensure you cut just above the node to allow it to grow back.
The Peace Lily Is Against a Dark-Colored Wall
Although people often overlook this fact, your walls influence how much light your indoor plants get. White walls reflect light, so the piece lily gets sufficient light from the window and the wall. This reflected light helps the plant have thick foliage and lots of blooms because it receives enough light from the front and back.
If your walls are dark-colored, the plant may be deprived of some light, especially if you don’t rotate the plant regularly. The side against the wall is likely to get leggy as it seeks more light.
If possible, move the peace lily to a spot away from the wall. It would be great if it could get sufficient light on all sides. However, if one side gets more light, keep rotating the plant a few times a day to ensure all sides receive adequate sunlight.
Alternatively, you can move the peace lily against a white wall because it will reflect light towards the plants.
Another solution for dark-colored walls is strategically placing a mirror against a dark-colored wall. It will reflect the light to the plants. This placement is a practical solution if all your walls don’t reflect light or if the chosen spot is the best for your peace lily.
If the peace lily gets enough light, it will grow lush and bushy.
Although they are indoors, peace lilies are affected by changes in light intensity during seasonal changes. If the peace lily has been doing well under bright light for hours during summer, it may get leggy in winter when it starts seeking more light.
Fortunately, peace lilies adapt quickly to seasonal changes. During winter, they will do well with low to medium indirect light. If the natural light is not enough, you will need to use artificial lighting such as grow lights to keep the peace lilies from stretching out for more light.
Since peace lilies need moderate light in fall and winter, you can place a fluorescent bulb 6 – 12 inches (15.24 – 30.48cm) above the plant. Set a timer for 16-18 hours of light per day. Check the natural light in
Before using a light fixture, you should do a shadow test to check the light intensity.
How To Conduct a Shadow Test
- Switch off all the artificial light during the brightest time of the day.
- Go to the window closest to your peace lily’s location.
- Cast your hand to see if you can see a shadow on the wall.
- If your shadow is visible and well-defined, you have bright light.
- You have moderate light if the shadow is defined, but the edges are not as sharp as the shadow in bright light.
- If the shadow is barely visible, then the light is too low.
The shadow test will guide you on the need to use artificial lighting during fall and winter.
Signs Your Peace Lily Needs More Light
Peace lilies are very expressive. If you are keen, you will discover that they are constantly communicating. When they are happy and content, they will show you. Likewise, they will protest if they need you to act on something.
Here are signs your peace lily needs more light.
- The stems grow long and leggy.
- It has fewer blooms.
- It takes too long to produce new flowers.
- It appears like a traditional foliage plant.
- The stems will appear tilted towards a source of light.
A peace lily may appear okay in medium, indirect light. However, when you move it to bright, indirect light, you will notice a difference in its appearance and response to light. The light you expose your peace lily to will depend on your intention.
Place it in bright, indirect light if you want it to produce many flowers. However, if you wish to have thick foliage with few blooms, medium, indirect light is ideal.
You can use a light and a temperature meter to measure how bright the sun is and the temperature and make adjustments if necessary.
Where To Place Your Peace Lily for the Best Natural Light
Light is essential for plants, especially indoor plants. Peace lilies are no different since the amount of light they receive will influence their overall demeanor. If it gets the right light intensity, your peace lily will have thick foliage with many blooms.
The sunlight coming through the window is enough for peace lilies. However, placing the plant too close to the window puts it in the path of direct sunlight. So, it is best to place it closer or further from the window, depending on the plant’s response.
If it is not producing blooms and is getting leggy, you need to move it to a brighter spot. If the leaves turn yellow, the light is too intense, so you need to move the plant to a location with lower light intensity.
Things To Consider When Using Natural Light for Your Peace Lilies
- Light from a south-facing window is usually the strongest (in the Northern Hemisphere).
- Light from a north-facing window is the least intense (in the Northern Hemisphere).
- When you place your peace lily too close to the window, the light may be too intense, even when the plant is not in the path of sun rays.
- Whitewalls and mirrors reflect light, so peace lilies placed in front of them receive more light than plants placed against dark-colored walls.
All these factors influence how much light your peace lily gets. So, you need to consider all possibilities in your quest to control your leggy peace lily and bring it back to its bushy, attractive old self.
This video analyzes natural light for indoor plants and the light to expect from different windows.
How To Tell Your Peace Lily Is Exposed To Direct Light
Some people mistakenly put peace lilies in direct light to have thicker growth and more flowers. However, the light may be bright, but direct sunlight burns peace lilies.
Some signs that your peace lily is in direct light include;
- It has curled, pale leaves.
- Browning on the leaf margins.
- The flowers are brown.
Peace lilies are usually at risk of too much light in summer, primarily because this is the season when the light intensity is most robust. It is also the period when peace lilies need the most light.
When looking for the best spot for your peace lily, you need to ensure the sun’s rays do not fall on the foliage. If necessary, use a sheer curtain to filter the light coming through the window.
This video analyzes types of light for indoor plants, specifically bright and indirect light.
If you do not correct the amount of light your peace lily gets, it will continue to get leggy in its quest to find more light. Unfortunately, it will get worse because your peace lily will start drooping.
You should identify the best spot for your peace lily and prune it. If you give it proper care, it will bounce back, looking lush and attractive.