If you are trying to grow a peace lily, have you ever wondered whether you can grow one in water? Some plants will happily grow without soil, as long as their other needs are met, so let’s see whether peace lilies can actually grow in water.
Peace lilies can grow in water, yes. You may have seen them sold without any soil, in glass vases, and this is a great way to grow them, although you do still need to be careful to avoid any risk of the plant rotting. If you later want to move your peace lily into soil, you will need to do so carefully to ensure it adapts.
Why Can Peace Lilies Survive In Water Alone?
It might seem amazing that a plant that normally grows in soil, like a peace lily, can survive in water, but it’s actually possible.
From a practical perspective, soil serves two purposes for a plant.
Firstly, it is a means of anchoring the plant down and holding it upright. This is something that you can provide in water, using stones or a specially made insert. The vase will support the peace lily too, and there are no strong winds that might knock it over, or animals to uproot it.
That means peace lilies can survive without the anchor aspect, but what about the other aspect? Soil holds nutrients and water close to the roots, ensuring that they are available to the plant at all times. Peace lilies like a lot of nutrients, so how does this work?
Quite simply, you will add the nutrients to the water. As long as the plant’s roots are in the water, it will be able to access both liquid and food, and this will keep it growing strong and healthy. You can add nutrients that will dissolve throughout the vase and keep feeding your peace lily.
You should note that some peace lilies that are grown in water will not live as long as those grown in soil. This is because they develop smaller and thinner root systems, which can leave the plant a little weaker overall. However, it can still be done!
What Do Peace Lilies Need If They Are Grown In Water?
Plants have a handful of basic needs that usually need to be met wherever and however they are grown: light, food, water, support. We will cover each of these by turn and explain how you can meet them when growing your peace lily in water.
Obviously, peace lilies grown in water still need a reasonable amount of light to photosynthesize. Although peace lilies are known for their ability to thrive even in dark corners, they do best with bright but indirect light. Putting your peace lily near a window or artificial source of light should help it to grow strong.
Secondly, a peace lily will need food. This can be distributed by adding a couple of drops of liquid fertilizer to your peace lily’s water every two weeks. For a large peace lily, you may wish to add a little more fertilizer, but two drops will usually be enough.
This replaces the nutrients that a peace lily would otherwise be getting from the soil.
Thirdly, a peace lily needs water. Obviously, you will be supplying this, but you can’t just use any old water. Tap water is not very good for plants, because it contains chemicals and often high concentrations of dissolved lime.
This lime will start to clog up the roots of your peace lily, preventing them from absorbing water. Over time, this will kill the peace lily, even if the chlorine and other chemicals do not.
The chemicals will hamper your peace lily’s ability to grow well and may make it more vulnerable to disease and pests.
So, what kind of water do you need? Distilled water is best, and it should be tepid or lukewarm. Don’t plunge your peace lily into very cold or very hot water; this is a sure way to kill it.
Finally, support. This is important because although the peace lily will get some structural support from the vase, you need to make sure that it is not sinking beneath the level of the water. The leaves should all be clear of the surface.
That means you need to support your peace lily so it doesn’t slip down deeper or get knocked out of the vase. To do this, many people cut a sheet of plastic that sits at the top of the vase and loosely cradles the peace lily’s leaves. The root ball can then be slotted underneath and sit in the water, while the leaves stay above the surface.
You may also be able to support your peace lily by submerging its roots in gravel or stones. These will work like soil and keep it upright. Either solution will be fine.
What Pitfalls Should You Look Out For When Growing Peace Lilies In Water?
One of the most important things to remember when you grow peace lilies in water is that you will need to change the water regularly, or it will become stagnant. Bacteria will form on the plant’s roots and kill it.
Keep an eye out for any signs of stagnation, such as cloudy or green algae growing in the water. If this occurs, you will need to change the water and gently rinse the peace lily’s roots with clean, distilled water.
Do not ever let your peace lily’s roots dry out. Having the plant out of water for a few minutes while you empty, clean, and refresh the vase it lives in will be fine, but you should not let the roots get dry.
Can You Move A Peace Lily From Soil To Water?
If you have a potted peace lily, you might be wondering whether you can transition it into a watery setting. The answer is that you can, but it is not easy to do. The peace lily’s roots have developed to thrive in soil, and it may struggle with water.
If you wish to do this, the best option is to take a rooted chunk of your peace lily and try it. You will still have your main plant if the cutting dies.
Rinse all soil away from the peace lily’s roots, and remove any unhealthy-looking roots. Put your plant in distilled water, using river stones or a plastic skirt to ensure that it stays upright.
If any of the foliage is below the surface of the water, you will need to change the water level or remove those leaves. Leaves that grow beneath the water will very quickly rot, harming the plant and dirtying the water.
You can use a pair of sterilized pruning shears to remove the leaves. Next, place the vase in bright but indirect light, and wait. The peace lily will hopefully start to adapt to the new settings, developing thin roots to manage in the water.
If it dies, you can have another go by taking a cutting from your main plant, but hopefully, this will work.
Can You Move A Peace Lily From Water To Soil?
Again, this is difficult, because the peace lily’s roots are different. It may really struggle to adapt to the new conditions of soil, but if you want to, you can try. You may wish to take a section of the plant, rather than risking the whole thing.
You should prepare a container with good drainage, mixing gravel and perlite into the soil. It might seem that you should keep the peace lily very wet, but this will leave it at risk of root rot, so don’t try it.
Make a hole in the compost, and then very gently place the peace lily in it, and cover its roots with soil. The roots may be quite fragile, so work carefully.
Water the peace lily lightly to settle the soil around the roots, and then place it in some indirect sunlight and keep an eye on it. Hopefully, given time, its roots will start to thicken, and it will adapt to growing in soil.
You may find that because the roots are weak and not used to support the weight of the plant, you have to add some support to keep your peace lily upright and reduce the risk of the roots breaking away from the main plant.
This is particularly true of large specimens. Use bamboo canes or other sticks to provide a peace lily with support.
Peace lilies certainly can grow in water, although they may not enjoy such a long lifespan in these conditions. If you wish to grow your peace lily in water, make sure you are providing plenty of food and refreshing the water on a regular basis to prevent any risk of fungal infections.
On the whole, it is better to grow peace lilies in soil, but if you have fallen in love with the glass vase aesthetic, give it a try!