Houseplant clinic: why is my peace lily turning yellow?

Wondering 'why is my peace lily turning yellow'? Don't panic – the problem should be easy to fix, according to plant experts

close up of a peace lily
(Image credit: Benjamin Braune / EyeEm/ Getty)

Why is my peace lily turning yellow? Many a frustrated house plant grower has asked this question, dismayed at the sight of a healthy peace lily suddenly looking not so healthy. Peace lilies are generally low-maintenance plants, but like all other house plants, they are not immune to occasional bouts of ill health. 

One of the best indoor plants, the peace lily will thrive again if you correctly identify the reason for the yellowing leaves. Here's what it might be, according to plant experts. 

Close-up of peace lily

(Image credit: Jaap Bleijenberg / EyeEm / Getty)

Why is my peace lily turning yellow? 

First of all, it's important not to panic if you've found just one or two yellowing leaves on your peace lily. This is entirely normal and doesn't signal that there's anything wrong with your plant. Dani Turner, plant expert and customer experience director at Bunches, explains that 'the leaves may simply be aging. A way to see if this is the case would be to see if they dry up and fall off.' If you don't fancy waiting for this to happen, 'you could prune the yellowing leaves.' Pruning will not harm your peace lily in any way. 

close-up of white peace lily

(Image credit: Heather Spencer / EyeEm / Getty)

If, on the other hand, you have many yellowing leaves on your peace lily, there is likely to be an issue with the plant. Watering plants incorrectly is the most common cause for a plant to become ill, and the peace lily is no exception. 

Dani cautions that in the case of the peace lily, overwatering is a common mistake that causes yellowing leaves. For this reason, she recommends 'watering only when the top few inches of soil feels dry to touch. To prevent overwatering, we also suggest checking your pot has adequate drainage, as leaving the roots sat in water causes them to be starved of oxygen and may also lead to root rot.'

'Yellowing leaves are not normally a sign of underwatering, which will typically cause your peace lily to droop – this is a good sign to watch out for when diagnosing your plant.'

Consider the positioning of your peace lily, too

It isn't all about overwatering, though. Dani also points out that 'other issues can include your Peace Lily being placed in a spot that is too draughty, in a spot where it does not receive an adequate amount of sunlight, or too much sunlight.'

James Folger, Founder at The Stem, confirms that 'Yellow leaves or flowers could be a sign of too much light or very low light – you need just the right spot for the Peace Lily to flourish.' The ideal spot will have indirect light, maybe even with a bit of shade. James adds that 'it also helps to snip off fading blooms, dust the leaves regularly and mist – it loves humidity.' This love of humidity is what also makes this one of the best plants for bathrooms

Fortunately, as Dani concludes, 'these plants are incredibly hardy and have the ability to spring quickly back to life', so a few yellowing leaves are nothing to worry about if you then address the issue that's causing them. Try making a few changes – repositioning the peace lily to a different spot in your indoor garden and/or watering it a bit less, and you should see a quick improvement.

Anna Cottrell
Anna Cottrell

Anna is a keen urban gardener, with David Austin roses and Japanese acers among her favourite plants. She moved into the world of interiors from academic research in the field of literature and urban space a couple of years ago. She's always been interested in how people make houses into homes, and how our concepts of what's stylish change over time.