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What is Spathiphyllum?

Angela Williams Duea
Angela Williams Duea

Spathiphyllum is a common houseplant that is also called the peace lily, or white flag plant. It is a graceful specimen of monocotyledonous plants, which have many stems, each producing a dark green glossy leaf in the shape of a sword. The name “white flag plant” comes from the simple white flowers that sprout from long stems; these flowers have an oval cowl shape that wrap around a thick flower stem called a spadix. Spathiphyllum was originally a plant native to tropical zones.

Peace lilies are versatile plants that can grow large or small, depending on the size of the pot and the growing conditions. They can thrive in many types of containers, but they react strongly to adverse conditions. The plant grows best in medium to low light and the leaves will burn if exposed to direct sunlight. If the soil dries out completely, the plant will droop alarmingly, but a good dose of water will perk up the plant within hours. However, the edge of the leaves will brown quickly after a drought, so be careful to keep the plant evenly moist and trim off any brown edges.

Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

The spathiphyllum is an excellent candidate for water culture gardens. The entire plant can be placed in a vase or other container and fertilized every other month, or the roots can be placed in a container of water while the leaves grow toward the light source. Like some other varieties of houseplants, spathiphyllum does not need soil to grow, as long as there are sufficient nutrients in the water.

The glossy leaves can be kept at their best through occasional misting and wiping with a damp cloth. Fertilize the plant with a full strength general-purpose treatment twice a month while flowering, and every other month when dormant. In the right conditions, your peace lily will probably flower year-round. To propagate this plant, divide the plant by the roots. Spathiphyllum’s flowers can be removed when they turn green or brown.

Spath is a popular perennial houseplant for several reasons. When grown in ideal conditions of medium light and plentiful water, it is a low-maintenance, long-lived plant. Among flowering plants, the peace lily’s shiny dark green leaves and ever-blooming white flowers are a striking combination. Spathiphyllum also has excellent ability to remove pollutants from the air. These plants are somewhat resistant to many insects and diseases, but the leaves will cause oral burning and irritation, so they should be kept away from pets and small children.

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