How to Prune a Peace Lily So It Looks Its Best

Peace lily plant with dark green shiny leaves and white bracts with spiky stamens

Galina Tolochko / Getty Images

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0

The peace lily (Spathiphyllum) is a popular indoor plant, loved for its large, glossy, dark green leaves, pale green and white blooms, and upright growing habit. The "flowers" of a peace lily are actually leaf bracts called spathes, that produce an attractive white oval shaped leaf with a prominent spiky stamen, usually white, yellow or pale green in color. They're a very low maintenance plant but they do benefit from regular pruning. These stems only produce one bract so once they fade they can be removed. Fortunately the pruning procedure for a peace lily is very easy and straightforward and doesn't require any special skills or tools.

Pruning the leaves of your peace lily removes that leaf from the root rhizome, and that cut leaf will not grow back, but the plant will send up new growth. Cutting the plant back promotes healthy regeneration, which is good for the plant both above and below the soil line.

When to Prune Your Peace Lily

How often to prune your peace lily may vary based on its age and rate of growth. You don't have to wait until the plant shows signs of yellowing or fading to prune the leaves. A good time to prune the leaves is at the same time when you're deadheading the spent leaf bracts. Doing some basic maintenance such as deadheading or pruning also allows you to inspect your peace lily in case there are any signs of pests or diseases. Pruning will also help the plant to generate new growth. Pruning once every six months or so should be sufficient, but you can prune more often as needed.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Bypass pruning shears
  • Gloves

Materials

  • Cotton cloth for cleaning

Instructions

  1. Deadhead the Spent Flower Bracts

    Deadheading is key to keeping plants looking neat, whether outdoor perennials or indoor houseplants. When the white "flowers" of your peace lily start to wilt or look discolored, usually about a month after they first appear, you can deadhead them to keep the plant looking neat. Using your bypass pruners (be sure to clean them first), cut back to the bottom of the stem to give the plant room to send up more bracts.

  2. Clear Away Leaf Debris

    You may find that as some leaves on your peace lily get big, they may fade slightly in color, or shrivel a bit and leave behind leaf litter or debris. Clean up this debris on a regular basis to keep the plant fresh and healthy (sometimes debris may contain bacteria). Wear gloves to avoid spreading any bacteria.

  3. Clean the Leaves

    Sometimes the leaves of your peace lily may look a bit dull and dingy, but they don't necessarily need pruning. But they may need to be cleaned to spruce up their appearance. You can gently wipe down the leaves with a soft dampened cotton cloth, and gently polish them with a circular motion. This restores the lustre that is one of the most pleasing aspects of this plant's appearance.

  4. Prune the Leaves

    Prune the leaves of your peace lily at the base of the plant. Cutting as close as possible to the bottom will leave space for new growth to appear. Using a pair of sharp pruning shears (clean them first to avoid any possible spread of bacterial or fungal disease), gently but firmly cut back any leaves that look faded or damaged. It is best to cut at an angle, as opposed to straight across. If your plant is getting too full, you can trim back the growth all around to allow fresh new leaves to come up.

    Tip

    If you want to cut back the entire top of your peace lily to start all new growth this is possible. But it's best to leave at least a few leaves in place. This will keep the plant green and help stimulate faster regrowth.

  5. Assess for Repotting

    If after you're done pruning your peace lily, the plant still looks a bit too big, or if you notice that it is rootbound, consider moving your peace lily to another pot to give it more space. You can loosen the roots with a gardening knife. Be sure to shake off any loose soil and replace the old soil with fresh potting mix.