Peace Lily With Brown Tips: Common Causes & How To Fix Them

A common complaint about peace lily tips turning brown is an easy fix if you know what’s causing it. Make it happy by adjusting your care.

peace lily brown tips
peace lily brown tips
(Image credit: Gardening Know How)

Why Your Peace Lily Has Brown Tips & How To Fix It

Are you wondering why your peace lily’s tips are brown? Some plants are innately appealing, and peace lilies are certainly in that group. Their leaves are long, pointed ovals in a rich green, and the flowers make them beloved houseplants. While peace lily plants are generally tough and resilient, sometimes we see peace lily leaf tips turning brown. This is a condition that is usually caused by water or fertilizer issues. 

Why Does My Peace Lily Have Brown Tips?

It is important to differentiate between plant problems caused by diseases (termed “biotic”) and those caused by environmental factors including cultural care (termed “abiotic”).  Both fungal diseases and cultural care can cause brown spots on leaves. Fungal diseases occur on outdoor plants as a result of fungal spore transfer in high humidity, wind, or splashing water.

Sometimes houseplants that have spent long months looking completely healthy suddenly take a turn for the worse, developing brown tips and margins. While the plant owner may assume this is a fungal problem, the truth is often much simpler. As an indoor plant, it’s not likely experiencing high humidity, wind, or splashing rainwater, which means that something about the cultural care of the plant is resulting in leaf damage. This might be an issue with watering, humidity, or sunlight exposure, but can also involve improper fertilizer use. 

When you see the peace lily tips turning brown on a houseplant, look first to cultural care. In most cases, the usually healthy plant leaves look sickly because of a cultural care issue. Read on to learn the most common causes for the tips of peace lilies turning brown.

Common Causes of Brown Tips on Peace Lilies

Peace lilies, though often seen as houseplants, can also be planted outside in the backyard in the very warmest plant hardiness zones, USDA zones 11 and 12. It is noteworthy that very few yard-planted peace lilies develop brown-tipped leaves. When peace lily tips turn brown, the plant is usually growing in a container kept inside or at least overwintered indoors.

Improper cultural care is generally the reason that peace lilies get brown tips on their leaves. The most common cultural care issues in this regard involve water or fertilizer. Peace lilies do not like excess water, and overwatering can result in browning of leaf tips. In addition, if you water with tap water, the plants may react badly. Peace lilies are very sensitive to fluoride in water or any type of water softener. 

Among those factors that lead to abiotic disorders in houseplants, excess fertilizer ranks high on the list. The idea that, "If a little is good, more is better" certainly does not apply to fertilizing plants, especially if they are growing indoors. During the winter months when days are short and light is poor, most houseplants make little, if any, new growth. Attempting to encourage new growth by applying fertilizer is counterproductive.

Finally, excess fertilizer can cause browning leaves in peace lilies. When you fertilize plants, the fertilizer salts are uptaken by the plant and are stored along leaf margins and tips. This can cause fertilizer burn, leading to marginal or tip necrosis. 

How to Treat a Peace Lily with Brown Tips

When you notice that your peace lily leaves have brown tips, consider your cultural care. If you are watering with tap water, consider gathering rain water in a bucket outdoors and using this to water sensitive plants. 

If you have been fertilizing your plant, take action to get the salts from the leaves and container. Flush the soil by watering several times with bottled drinking water and letting it run out the drain holes. Then reduce the fertilizer amounts you provide. Repotting is another way to clear these salts from the soil.

If these steps do not seem to solve the issue, consider other possible causes of brown leaf tips on peace lilies. These can include too little humidity (place the plant on a pebble saucer with water), too much sunlight, or temperature fluctuations. 

Should I Cut the Brown Tips Off My Peace Lily?

Cutting damaged leaves off of the peace lily is a good idea. This will also allow you to check whether the problem is solved as new leaves grow in.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.