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The single leaf (Spathiphyllum) is an elegant houseplant that brings color with little maintenance, especially in shady places. White flowers rise from the specimens and a long-lasting dark green foliage provides a decorative contrast. Nevertheless, you should pay attention to some care details, which you can find at the plant expert.
The peace lily presents itself in a modern chic style, which is particularly popular as a houseplant due to its robustness and easy care. You should still meet the few care requirements so that the noble-looking Spathiphyllum thrives healthy and vigorously and regularly gives you white flowers. The professional care instructions describe the correct procedure from planting, location, watering and fertilizing to propagation and treatment of diseases and pest infestations.
- Name: Leaflet
- botanical name: Spathiphyllum
- Trivial names: peace lily, sheath leaf, leaf flag
- Family: Araceae
- Origin: tropical South America, Pacific regions such as the Philippines
- herbaceous perennial houseplant
- long white flowers lasting for weeks
- Flowering time: spring/summer
- Growth height: between 20 centimeters and 120 centimeters
- between 50 and 60 different species
According to its original origin, the unicorn makes corresponding demands on its location. The special thing about her is that she is one of the few flowering specimens that do well in dark places. If you stick to the following points regarding the location, the basic basis for magnificent growth has been created.
- high humidity
- bright location - tolerates semi-shady to shady places
- no direct sunlight (danger of burns)
- Ambient temperature between 15 degrees Celsius and 25 degrees Celsius
TIP: The colder the peace lily is, the slower it grows and the need for care is reduced to a minimum. It is in good hands in a cool bedroom, especially if you are going on vacation for a long time, for example.
In terms of soil, the sheath blade is just as frugal as in all other care points. However, you should only use quality soil such as you can find in a good quality substrate. Conventional, cheap potting soil tends to compact quickly. This leads to impermeability to water. Water accumulations occur, which can cause rot. In addition, the leaf flag generally does not like waterlogging and can react to this with brown leaves. A substrate with the following properties is most suitable, to which you should also add drainage.
- slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.0
- water permeable
- containing sand and/or clay
- Perlite for improved water retention and soil aeration
TIP: Planting in hydroponics ensures optimal water storage. Here, however, only a third is filled with the beads in the upper area and 2/3 of the substrate is retained so that a natural nutrient release can take place.
plants and repotting
If you buy a single leaf, it is usually planted in a pot that is usually too small. In addition, inferior soil is often used here for cost reasons. After purchase, it is advisable to repot the plant in a higher-quality substrate and in a suitably sized flower pot. The pot should be large enough that there is a distance of at least three to four centimeters between the outermost plant stems and the edge of the pot. With most or the most common single-leaf types, the final size is usually reached in a pot with a diameter of 20 or 22 centimeters. The best time for planting and repotting is February/March. During these months the single leaf is already out of hibernation and is about to start growing.
Proceed as follows when planting and transplanting:
- Remove dirt from roots
- Fill the bottom of the pot with two centimeters of gravel, broken pottery or quartz sand (drainage)
- fill in a few centimeters of substrate
- Planting depth: the upper root area must be about three to four centimeters covered with soil
- Place the plant meticulously in the middle, fill the substrate in the gaps
- Lightly press
- water moderately
Due to its original tropical origin, the peace lily needs a lot of water and moisture. The soil should not dry out. You can find out the optimal time for watering with a thumb test. To do this, press your thumb into the top layer of soil. If it gives less than a centimeter slightly, it's time to water. If the soil/substrate can be pushed in deeper, the moisture content is still sufficient and you should not water more.
It is important when watering that you create a way to drain off excess water. A drainage hole in the pot is necessary for this. After watering, you should check after a few minutes whether water has run out of the pot and dry it if necessary. If the plant remains standing in a pool of water, you risk root rot, which in the worst case can lead to the death of the single leaf. In addition, you should spray the leaves with water regularly and at least twice a week. The colder the Spathiphyllum is, the lower the water requirement.
How and with what you should fertilize depends primarily on where your arum plant is planted. While good substrate is usually already enriched with the most important substances such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium, commercially available expanded clay has no nutrients. Here you should use a slow-release fertilizer in liquid form on a so-called ion exchange basis. This is well absorbed and the vital nutrients are evenly distributed to the plant. The fertilizer rhythm should be approximately every three months.
If your single leaf is planted in nutrient-rich substrate, do not fertilize in the first six to eight weeks after planting or repotting. You can then add a liquid fertilizer to the irrigation water and administer it at six to eight week intervals. Pay attention to the manufacturer's recommended dose. A special flowering fertilizer is not required. In winter, from October to the end of January, you should generally not fertilize. If you have multiplied single leaves by sowing them yourself, they will not be fertilized in the first year of life. Fertilization only begins in the second year.
As a rule, it is not necessary to cut the Spathiphyllum, although it does not harm it.
Cutting the optics is usually the case. With increasing age and after experiencing drought, individual leaves dry up. You should cut these off from early spring to autumn. The same applies to withered white flowers, which unnecessarily draw nutrients and should be separated. White flowers are cut off as soon as they shoot.
If the single sheet is too big for you, you have to divide it. You cut the root ball into two or more root parts and shorten the roots by about a third. To reduce size, simply cut off individual stems directly at their origin.
In some cases, cutting the single sheet is unavoidable. This is when she is seriously ill and you want to keep her alive. You can read more about this under the heading “Diseases”.
TIP: Always cut only with gloves, because the single leaf has poisonous parts of the plant. These can trigger symptoms of poisoning such as increased saliva production, difficulty swallowing and stomach and intestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea.
In the winter
While the single-leaf likes it warm from spring through fall, it should be kept in cooler temperatures during the winter. In the cold season, nature has planned a hibernation for the single leaf. She needs this time because the days are shorter and the biorhythm works differently. Here it slows down its metabolism slightly and hardly grows, although with really good care it can still form white flowers. To ensure that the sheath blade survives the winter optimally, you should observe the following points.
- optimal temperature: 15 degrees Celsius
- Location: light to semi-shady - definitely not in the vicinity of heating air
- water a little at most once a week
- ensure high humidity
- avoid cold drafts
- refrain from major temperature fluctuations
- from the end of January/beginning of February set it warmer again
Whether during a size reduction of an existing Spathiphyllum or as a targeted method, propagating the houseplant is always worthwhile. Experience shows that the most promising is the division of the root, which you can do best when repotting without much additional effort.
Another variant of propagation is shown with sowing. Here you need a little patience until lush growth and white flowers are presented. However, the seeds can only rarely be found in specialist shops and extracting the seeds from the single leaf itself is usually not crowned with success.
- Pot houseplant
- Remove soil from root
- Divide the root into two or more sections (each must have at least three leaves)
- Divide the root areas with a sharp knife
- pot all rooted plant parts individually as usual
- Place non-rooted plant parts in a transparent water container
- after about 10 days roots should have formed
- Press seeds into loose potting soil
- Planting depth: about 1.5 to 2 centimeters
- cover lightly with potting soil
- Pour moderately and keep continuously moist
- Avoid waterlogging
- ensure high humidity
- optimal ambient temperature: 25 degrees Celsius (temperature fluctuations hinder germination)
- Germination time: around 14 days
- Pricking out: after at least two leaves have grown
- Plant in normal substrate when the young single leaf has reached a height of at least ten centimeters
diseases and pests
The single leaf is a fairly robust houseplant that, with optimal care, is often resistant to diseases. However, care errors can lead to diseases and spread the so-called leaf spot disease.
If you meant too well with the watering of the single leaf and/or waterlogging has formed, root rot is often the result. You can recognize them by a musty smell that rises from the earth. Furthermore, the stability of the leaf stalks decreases, the plant "softens" and the stalks bend downwards. The leaves turn brown and dry up. Sometimes mold forms in the substrate.
You can treat root rot as follows:
- pot the plant
- Remove soil from roots
- Cut off soft and moldy root parts at the highest point
- shorten the entire root area by a third
- Let the plant dry for about 24 hours (do not expose it to particular heat, such as a heater or hair dryer)
- Plant a single leaf in fresh, dry substrate
- Spray substrate only lightly with water
- only water again when the substrate is dry
leaf spot disease
Leaf spot disease is a fungal infection that is one of the typical diseases of single leaves. It includes three different fungal genera, some of which result in different types of damage. Brown to black oblong or rounded spots on the leaves and spreading from the leaves to the stems are classic signs of leaf spot. In some cases, the leaves turn yellow and fall off.
Since the fungal infection can spread quickly and cause life-threatening damage, rapid action is required. Immediately isolate the single leaf from other plants to prevent them from moving over. It is advisable to treat the houseplant with a fungicide from a specialist shop. These are the most effective and provide quick relief. Fungicides are available from a variety of manufacturers, such as those listed below.
- COMPO Duaxo Universal fungus-free AF
- Ortiva fungus-free
- Fungisan fungus free
Occasionally spider mites can settle on the houseplant. This happens mainly during the winter time, especially when the air humidity is insulated by heating air, because spider mites like dry air conditions.
The typical signs that suggest a spider mite infestation include light speckles on the upper side of the leaves, light green to creamy-white leaf discolouration as well as leaf drying and delicate web formation. You can combat spider mites with high humidity by proceeding as follows.
- Rinse off one leaf vigorously in the shower
- Place wet in a translucent plastic bag and seal
- leave for about three days
- Remove foil/bag afterwards
- if spider mites are still present, repeat the process
- best-known species with white flowers and pale yellow spadix
- Leaf length about 20 centimeters
- short spadix
- quickly green petal
- looks similar to the floribundum, but flowers longer and the leaves are more pointed
Spathiphyllum 'Sweet Paco'
- slight smell of vanilla
- has an air-freshening and purifying effect
NOTICE: Note that all single-leaf species have toxic components. It is advisable not to place them where small children and pets can reach them.