With a lot of plants, the goal can be to grow them as big as possible, but your peace lily may have become, well…excessively large. It almost feels like you cared for it a little too well. Now you’d like to scale it back if at all possible. This post on how to deal with your oversized Peace Lily is probably exactly what you’re looking for.
What can you do if your peace lily is too big? If your peace lily is too big, the best thing to do is prune it. You can also try separating the Peace Lily, a process that involves slicing into the root ball of your oversized houseplant.
Want to learn more about separation and when and how to prune your peace lily? If so, then this is the article for you. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know exactly what to do to control your peace lily and keep it from getting any larger.
How Do You Know Your Peace Lily Is Too Big?
The fun part about owning and growing a houseplant like a peace lily is you have options for where you’ll plant it. Some indoor gardeners use soil to grow their peace lilies and others water.
No matter which of the two you chose, you always take the best care of your peace lily. You’re careful not to overwater (if growing in soil), leaving the soil moist but not soggy. You also never let the soil get bone dry.
You fertilize as often as needed, more in the warmer months than in the winter. You also keep up the peace lily’s humidity. As a reward for all your hard work and effort, your peace lily has grown big, healthy, and vibrant. Its white flower or spadix looks great. Your peace lily is in about the best condition it can be.
It’s just a little too big.
How big is too big exactly? To answer that question, I’d refer you to our recent post on “How to Tell When Your Plant Needs to a Bigger Container” that goes into it in great detail. If you’re growing your peace lily in a pot, then we encourage you to check the drainage holes. Are these all filled by extending plant roots eager to branch out? That’s a sure sign the roots have outgrown the container and need more room.
Do you see more water sitting on the surface of the soil rather than absorbing in? That’s because soil quality can degrade if you leave your houseplant in the same pot for too long. It’s recommended you repot the peace lily at least once a year, typically in the spring. If you’ve had your peace lily for quite a while but have yet to repot it, then it’s more than likely time.
Pruning Your Peace Lily: Steps to Follow
Okay, so your peace lily is a little too big. You know that now. It’s taking up valuable room your other houseplants would like to occupy. You don’t want to get rid of the peace lily, as it’s perfectly healthy otherwise, but you would like it smaller. What should you do?
Per what we said in the intro, you have two ways to go about shrinking your peace lily. The first is to prune it and the second is to separate it. Let’s talk about pruning first.
In our step-by-step article on helping a plant grow more branches, we wrote a lot about pruning. That was more general information that applied to most houseplants. Now, we want to discuss pruning the peace lily specifically.
Deadheading Your Peace Lily
The first bit of pruning you can do is to the peace lily’s flower. This is a single white petal with a white, spiky growth attached to the stem. Now, rarely will the flower itself be the problem in terms of your peace lily becoming too big. That said, knowing how to deadhead could prolong the appeal of your peace lily.
As you may already know, the flower of your peace lily can become black or brown with time. Before that happens, it typically goes green. This is just the natural lifecycle of the peace lily plant. The flower is beautifully white for a while (usually just a few days), then it turns green, and then brown or black. You may even notice the peace lily flower falls off.
This is all normal, but considering that what makes the peace lily such an attractive indoor plant is its flower, it’s unfortunate when it dies. By deadheading the flower, you’re ensuring you remove all dead growth from around the flower. This can allow a new flower to hopefully bloom sooner if you continue to maintain your peace lily care.
With clean, sterilized cleaning shears or scissors, you want to make a cut to the peace lily stalk as close to the plant’s base as possible. You also have a greater surface area to work with.
I often include the far away lands a particular plant is native to so you’ll have a rough idea of the conditions the plant would ideally thrive in.Interesting Fact
If you read the post on pruning for new branches, the same science is at work here. By removing dead stalks, new ones can emerge in their place. Since a dead stalk will grow no flowers, you can encourage the chances of more flowers someday growing with fresh stalks.
Besides just the stems or stalks, you should also pay attention to the leaves of your peace lily. After all, these are what can really get overgrown and unkempt if your houseplant becomes too large.
You can either trim the tips of the leaves or the whole leaf outright. When you make your cuts, you want to use sterilized cutting shears. Yes, it’s worth reiterating that your shears should be completely clean. This is something we’ve discussed on this blog before, but by disinfecting your shears, you can prevent the spread of diseases to your houseplant. Take the extra time to do this between cuts.
If you decide to chop off the entire peace lily leaf, you want to start at the houseplant’s base and cut near where the leaf petiole is. This is the leaf’s stalk that connects to the stem. Always cut at an angle of roughly 45 degrees, never straight across.
Besides just having a big peace lily on your hands, there are other situations in which pruning the leaves are warranted. If the leaf tips are brown, you can snip them off to keep the rest of the leaf healthy. If the entire leaf is infected or just in bad shape, then it’s a good idea to remove the whole thing. You may also prune entire peace lily leaves if they’ve yellowed, which is common with age.
Separating Your Peace Lily: What to Do
The next option you can try is known as dividing or separating the houseplant. This allows you to shrink the peace lily from the bottom of the plant (the roots) rather than the top (the leaves). You can also use division or separation to propagate new peace lilies should you want to do that.
Begin by taking your peace lily out of its current pot or container. If you’re struggling to do this, we recommend you place a hand on the peace lily’s foliage. You want a firm grip but not one that’s too hard. Instead of yanking or pulling, rock the houseplant out of its pot gently back and forth. It may take a minute or two, but the plant should come out undamaged.
Have a clean surface to work on, as you’re going to have to lay the removed peace lily somewhere flat, like on a countertop or table. Turn your peace lily so its side is facing you. This will let you inspect the roots from an optimal angle. You’re looking for roots that are excessively large and/or long. These will have to come out.
Next, you want to grab a kitchen knife, one of the sharpest you have. Make sure it’s sterilized before you begin doing any cutting. Find the peace lily root ball. We’ve only touched on root balls before, so we’ll explain them more now.
The root ball is the primary collection of roots that sustains your houseplant. If you’re not sure if you’ve located the root ball, start at your plant’s base and work your way down. The root ball should be not too far from the base.
With your knife, split or divide the root ball into two. In some cases, a particularly large or tangled root ball may be difficult to work with. Your peace lily also could have become rootbound, which is when the roots of a houseplant grow and basically attach to the pot or container they’re in and become very hard to remove. A knife with a serrated blade can assist you with large or rootbound roots.
You also don’t always necessarily need a knife. If your peace lily doesn’t have very large roots, then you can possibly divide them with your hands. You would have to split the root ball gently yet firmly, being careful not to tear too much.
It’s alright if you slice into the roots of your peace lily during splitting or dividing, though. It’s not something you want to intentionally do, but it will happen, especially if this is your first time working with the root ball. Your peace lily should survive sans a few roots.
You’re not limited to dividing your root ball into two either. You can keep splitting it as many times as you’d like. Just make sure you don’t throw the root ball pieces away when you’re done splitting them. They’re very much useful.
With the pieces split, take one root ball piece and put it right back in the pot or container in which it came from. Make sure the roots are buried in potting mix or soil. Apply some water to the soil and keep tending to the root ball from there. It will become a new peace lily. Repeat this with the other root ball pieces, giving each their own pot or container.
If you just want to rid your peace lily of some size and not necessarily grow new plants, then give the root ball pieces to another indoor gardener friend. They’ll certainly appreciate it!
How to Prevent Your Peace Lily from Growing Too Much
Of course, if you don’t know how your peace lily got so big, then in a few months, maybe longer, you’ll turn around and have the same problem again. Your newly propagated peace lilies could have also grown too large.
It helps to know why your peace lily has reached the size it has. This way, you can take precautions to keep your own houseplant as big as you’d prefer. Here are some tips and pointers to get you started.
You don’t have to wait for your peace lily to grow too big to get into the habit of pruning. Anytime you see leaves that have sprouted too large or wide, you can feel free to trim them. You should only cut from the edges if the leaves are healthy and green.
There is such thing as overdoing it on the pruning, so watch out. You should almost never have to prune a houseplant weekly or biweekly. Otherwise, you’ll have no growth in which to cut. Instead, check your plant every two months or so to see if it needs work. Then trim it from there.
If you’re trying to limit the size of your peace lily, then to you, it might make sense to cut back on certain care components. For instance, perhaps you water the houseplant a little less often or skip a round of fertilizer. You could also wait a year to replace the peace lily’s pot, right?
Not exactly. If you don’t water your peace lily, it’s true that it will shrink, but that’s because it’s withering. Should you continue with this bad behavior, your poor indoor plant will die.
The same goes for fertilizing it. Failing to give your plant fertilizer is depriving it of food. It needs nutrients through the fertilizer to grow, but also to survive. If you skimp the fertilizer too much, you’ll again end up in a scenario where you kill your peace lily.
Failing to repot won’t really stop growth, either. The roots will keep right on growing out of the holes at the bottom of your pot. You should still repot your peace lily every year then, but don’t upgrade to a much bigger pot size. After all, plants grow to the size of their pot, or at least, they try to.
My newly propagated peace lily root balls wilted! Did I do something wrong?
You decided to split your peace lily’s root ball. You used a knife or perhaps your hand to divide the root ball into several pieces. Then you took each piece, put it in soil in a container, watered it, and gave it adequate light. You thought you had done everything correctly, but now your root ball looks withered. Why?
This happens frequently to root ball pieces, so don’t panic. Within a week, maybe two, they should bounce back and look as healthy as ever. Then the root ball pieces are well on their way to becoming healthy peace lily plants. Make sure you keep up your care even when the root ball pieces are wilted. Otherwise, you could stunt their growth.
How big will my peace lily get?
We’ve talked about large peace lilies throughout this entire article, but we have yet to use specific numbers. Just how big should you expect your peace lily to grow? The average height of an indoor peace lily is about 16 inches. Their width is about 10 inches, so they can get quite sizable. Hence why it makes so much sense to limit the size of yours when you can!
Can I put my peace lily outside?
A few weeks ago, we wrote a post on this blog about moving your indoor plants outside for a season or two. Should you want to do the same with your peace lily, can you? Definitely! That said, you don’t want to keep this houseplant outdoors all year long.
In case you don’t recall, peace lilies prefer tropical environments, especially those that are humid. Summertime weather is their favorite, and some time outside in the humidity and heat will do them good. If the temperatures dip too low outside at night, then it’s a good idea to move the peace lily back indoors. The same is true once the seasons change.