Why Isn’t My Spathiphyllum Getting Bigger?

Spathiphyllum ‘Sensation’ in the foreground with smaller spathiphyllums behind it. Photo: Janet Melconian,

Question: My friend has a beautiful huge peace lily that takes up nearly a quarter of her dining room with huge sail-like flowers and leaves the size of banana leaves. She’s had it for over a decade and it’s really impressive. I bought a baby peace lily so I could have the same effect, but mine seems stalled at a much smaller size. It blooms, but the flowers are not much bigger than a soup spoon, and the leaves are narrow and none too impressive. I’ve tried fertilizing more and giving it more light, but no luck. What am I doing wrong?

A Curious Reader

Answer: Nothing! You simply bought the wrong peace lily! 

The peace lily or Spathiphyllum is a popular indoor plant and comes in dozens of cultivars (varieties), each with its own natural size range. Some are only 8 inches (20 cm) high at full maturity with short, narrow leaves and while others are up to 6 feet (180 cm) tall with huge broad leaves 20 inches (50 cm) or more in length. Most cultivars are somewhere in-between.

I suspect your friend has Spathiphyllum ‘Sensation’, the biggest one commercially available. It’s the one that reaches 6 feet (180 cm) in height.

So, your problem is that you didn’t buy a baby peace lily, you bought a dwarf one. It will never get much taller than when you bought it, although it will likely broaden over time, as spathiphyllums produce offsets, filling in their pot. 

Ask your garden center to order a ‘Sensation’ peace lily for you. It will already be huge when you get it and will thicken over time.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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