‘Best’ method to prune peace lilies to encourage ‘healthier’ growth

Pruning peace lilies helps prevent pests and disease and removes old, yellowing foliage to keep the plant fresh with green foliage. Each stalk of a peace lily plant blooms only once, so cutting it back allows the houseplant to remain healthy and bloom frequently. To carry out this pruning task, Vladan Nikolic, a houseplant expert and the founder of Mr. Houseplant indoor plant blog and Ben McInerney, gardening expert and founder of Home Garden Guides and has shared their top tips.

Vladan claimed: “In general, peace lilies don’t need to be pruned. However, if your peace lily has a leaf disease, you should prune it. 

“Pruning diseased leaves prevents diseases from spreading from the sick plant tissue to the healthy tissue.”

While it is not essential to prune peace lilies, the expert argued that it will help the houseplants “look their best”.

He said: “Pruning them can be a fun and rewarding task that helps keep them healthy and looking their best. 

“By trimming away dead or yellowing leaves, you can promote new growth and prevent your peace lily from becoming too overgrown.

“Not only does pruning help keep your peace lily looking beautiful, but it also allows it to use its energy more efficiently, leading to a healthier plant overall.”

When it comes to pruning a peace lily, it’s “best to do it” in the spring or summer. 

Ben explained: “That’s because this is when the plant is actively growing, so it can better handle the stress of being trimmed.”

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Gardeners should avoid cutting back their plant in the winter months as it will struggle to grow back.

When pruning these houseplants, or any plants, it is important to make sure a clean pair of pruning shears or scissors are being used to carry out the task. 

The expert said: “Using clean, sharp tools will allow you to make more precise cuts, which promotes healthy growth without damaging the plant.”

Ben said that the “best way” to prune a peace lily is to start by removing any dead or yellowing leaves at the base of the plant. He said: “Be sure to also remove any brown or withered flowers to encourage new blooms. 

“If your peace lily has become too large, you can also trim back the outer leaves to control its size. Just be sure to never remove more than one-third of the plant at a time to avoid causing too much stress. With a little bit of care and attention, your peace lily will be looking healthy and thriving in no time.”

According to Vladan, if gardeners are pruning the plant due to dead leaves, they should prune it at the base of the petiole. Cut it off as close to the bottom as possible. You will recognise a dead leaf as it will be brown and dry.

He explained: “It is normal for the older leaves of a peace lily to dry out and become brown as the plant grows. This is because, as the plant matures, the older leaves are replaced with newer ones. 

“As the older leaves start to turn yellow, the plant extracts mobile nutrients from them and transports them to other parts of the plant where they are needed.”

Once a peace lily’s inflorescence (white spathe) dries out and dies, the whole flower stalk will dry out. The expert said: “When it becomes dry and brittle, you can prune the flower stalk at its base. An easier method is to wait for the flower stalk to be dry enough so you can just pull it out with your hand.”

If a peace lily has brown leaf tips or edges, they can be removed by cutting off the affected sections with a pair of scissors. Prior to cutting, sterilise the scissors with rubbing alcohol, advised Vladan.

He said: “It is not necessary to cut off the entire leaf, simply trim the brown sections while taking care to leave the green parts of the leaf intact. The green portions of the leaf are still useful to the plant as they are alive, healthy, and involved in photosynthesis, producing food for the plant.

“Although the brown tips and edges are dead tissue and serve no purpose, they do not harm the plant, so there is no obligation to remove them. However, if their appearance bothers you, you may choose to remove them for aesthetic reasons.”

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