April is an ideal time to bring a sense of peace and calm to your space, and there's no better way than with our monthly featured houseplant: the peace lily. Its elegant ivory flowers bring grace and beauty to our homes as we recover from the winter season.
The Lily That Isn't a Lily
The holiday of Easter often falls in April, and Easter lilies are the outdoor flowers of the moment. But these tall bulb plants — though lovely — are problematic indoors. Instead, welcome the striking peace lily (Spathiphyllum spp.), a tropical species that thrives indoors, ornamenting April with its long-lasting blossoms. A big plus: NASA names the peace lily as one of the best plants for removing toxins (like formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide) from the air.
The peace lily is not a true lily at all, but a tropical evergreen species growing in the wild on the forest floor in dappled sunlight. Its gorgeous, glossy emerald leaves have year-round appeal. The lily-like "blossoms" appear on tall stalks and hover gracefully above the leaves in spring. The actual flowers of a peace lily are the spikes of small blossoms, each surrounded by a large white spathe or hood, known as a bract.
Buying a Peace Lily
Peace lilies are popular houseplants and you may well find them in your local garden stores. But they are also easy to buy online and you may find a greater selection. Look for the compact varieties, like Spathiphyllum Power Petite, growing to 15 inches tall, or Spathiphyllum wallisii, growing to only 12 inches tall. If you have more room, check out the ever-popular Spathiphyllum Mauna Loa Supreme, shooting up to 36 to 48 inches with 9-inch leaves.
You'll find a large selection of peace lily plants at Walmart, including the attractive cultivar Sweet Pablo, available for pickup in the store or for delivery. If you have a Lowe's Garden Store in your neighborhood, look for potted peace lilies with snow white flowers, or buy them online. For a version of peace lily with variegated leaves, head online to Garden Goods Direct. The Domino peace lily variety shows off splashes of white on every glossy oval leaf.
Caring for the Peace Lily
Peace lilies are tough and long-lasting as long as you meet their basic growing requirements. Remember that these are tropical, forest-floor plants. That means that they need consistently moist (but not wet) soil, air temperatures above 60 degree F, and plenty of indirect light. Keep them away from direct afternoon sun or they will wilt, but morning sun is perfectly fine.
It is best to give this plant filtered water since it is sensitive to fluoride found in tap water. And they are not heavy feeders. If you want to fertilize your peace lily, offer it a balanced houseplant fertilizer no more than every six weeks starting in late winter.
From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. A professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler has written about home and garden for Gardening Know How, San Francisco Chronicle, Gardening Guide and Go Banking Rates. She earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.