Peace Lily Plant

What You May Not Know about the Peace Lily Plant

            A flower by any other name……while the peace lily plant does not belong on the list for true lilies, it does belong on the list for the most popular and common houseplants.  Called a lily simply because of few similar characteristics, the plant is desired for its rich green foliage and lovely white blooms, but there is much more to this simplistic plant than meets the eye.

            The peace lily is a member of the family Spathiphyllum, along with calla lilies, philodendron and dieffenbachia plants.  Spathiphyllum family members are indigenous to the rain forests of South America and southeastern Asia, where they can be found in abundance growing upon the floor of the forests.  A thick canopy of leafy branches shield the low growing plants from the sun’s rays and excessive rainfall.  Adapting their needs to their environment, the peace lily does not need sun or continuous watering in order to survive; a trait that has increased its popularity as a houseplant.

            One of the most important facts to know about the peace lily plant is that it is highly toxic to pets and humans alike.  Ingesting any part of the plant can result in a burning sensation of the lips, tongue and throat that is caused by the calcium oxalate crystals in the plants.  If consumed in great enough quantities, the plant can cause death.  If growing the peace lily outdoors in the garden, pets such as cats and dogs must be discouraged from rubbing against the plant.  Pollen can be transferred to the fur, which can then be accidentally ingested by the pet after licking their fur.

            Peace lilies are an herbaceous plant, which means simply that they possess a fleshy, rather than woody, nature.  When grown outdoors, they die back at the end of each growing season, but as perennials, return the following year to flourish and bloom once again.  As houseplants, they can be encouraged to remain in their lovely, leafy state.

            Used in a home or office as a houseplant brings an unexpected benefit:  peace lilies help to clean the air.  They are extremely effective at removing toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide from the environment.  This symbiotic relationship is unique among houseplants, with only nine other plants recognized and declared as such in the Clean Air Study that was conducted by NASA.  Since a disorder known as “sick building syndrome” is common in office buildings, incorporating multiple containers of the peace lily plant throughout can help to alleviate and even eliminate this illness.

            Insect pests that can endanger many houseplants have little effect on the peace lily.  The plant should be inspected for mealy bugs, the one type of pest that may inhabit the long, green leaves of the plant.  If evidence of the bugs appears, simply wiping the leaves with rubbing alcohol on a cloth usually eliminates the problem.  To avoid any infestations, spray the leaves lightly with an insecticidal soap occasionally.  This simple measure also helps the broad leaves by cleaning away dust that accumulates normally.

            Several different varieties of the peace lily plant are now available, thanks to avid hybridization.  One variety called Flower Power is an abundant blooming plant, providing flowers throughout the year.  For a dramatic addition to any room, Sensation may be ideal; a massive plant that can, at maturity, measure over 6 feet.  To add more interest, Domino is a variegated type of peace lily.  Its broad green leaves are erratically splotched with white.

            Whether the peace lily plant is used for interior decoration or to dress up a flower garden, its glossy, broad green leaves and lovely white flowers have proven to be a favorite with most.