Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum sp.) - Best Air Purifying Plant #7

Granted, I can't say the name of this plant without sounding like Sylvester the cat, but it is one of the most popular houseplants around. Its Latin name is Spathiphyllum, where "spatha" refers to the "spathe" (which I'll describe below) and "phyllum" means "leaf".

The plant is also called a "Peace Lily", which is a bit of a misnomer because this plant isn't a lily at all. In fact, the white thing that everyone thinks is a flower is a special kind of leaf, or bract, called a "spathe".  It's more like a shield that protects the hard part in the middle of it, which is the actual flower cluster.

Here's the one I got from Garden World:


The flowers inside the spathe actually had a wonderful subtle fragrant scent. When I tapped them they also spewed out a whole bunch of white pollen powder.

It's rated 8 out of 10 for chemical removal and 8 out of 10 for transpiration, thanks to those lovely huge green leaves. Just having it around instantly brings life to a room, both in terms of the beautiful white spathes as well as the cleaner air.

When you buy one of these plants, you want to make sure you go to a breeder or garden center. Word is that when they're mass produced, they're bred so that when you buy them you see nice huge spathes in the store, but once those die, they never come back.

The Spathiphyllum comes from the tropical rainforests of South America. While the plant is known to tolerate low light conditions, this plant loves light. It also prefers a soil mixture that's looser and more porous, like orchid potting soil or a mix of potting soil, peat moss, and perlite, rather than just traditional potting soil that turns into thick mud when wet. It also loves lots of water. Keep the soil damp but not soggy and you should be fine.

I had an old Spathiphyllum for years and it was a testament to how much abuse this plant can take. My plant would go for weeks without watering, to the point where the leaves would start to droop. But after watering it, the leaves would perk up as good as new. I was proud of my plant, but one particularly dry winter I left for a three-week trip and came back to find it not just drooped, but the leaves dried out. I tried watering it, and bless its heart it tried to come back to life, but ultimately it no longer produced flowers nor spathes. Ultimately I had to throw it out, although I did save two cutting from it before I did.

1) Temperature: As with any tropical rainforest plant, keep as warm and humid as possible. Keep between 68-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything below 55 and they will have problems.
2) Sunlight: Light to moderate shade is best.
3) Care and feeding: Mist regularly and water frequently in summer. In winter, keep soil damp. Feed weekly in summertime with fertilizer.

3 comments:

GreenObsessions said...

I recently purchased this plant after a long time of consideration because, I found the leaves to be unimpressive when not in bloom. Itd warming up to me now though After finding out how forgiving it can be.

Jacquie H. said...

Hey, I have a question....in one of your older posts you bought the lavender kit from aero garden....I have the grow anything kit, and didnt realize I had to "cold srtatify" the seeds...? I was hoping you could help me out. When I look up how to cold stratify them it says I have to put them in growing medium (soul) while in the frig....well how will in find them in the soil once I get then out? So veryy confused...lol I hope you can help me with some suggestions...thank you. Jacquie

Steve said...

Sorry I'm a bit late in responding. Honestly, most seeds that require cold stratification (this is, simulating real-world conditions that a plant would go through in the winter months) to germinate are probably not great cnadidates for the Aerogarden--we're talking plants like poppies, blueberries, milkweed, and echinacea that prefer soil over hydroponics.

As for lavender, the seeds in Aerogarden's lavender kit (http://amzn.to/2a958uY) germinated just fine, although you'll get a lot of varying opinions from reviewers. I think success depends a lot on how long the seeds have been sitting on the shelf, which may vary.