Have strange holes and rips started showing up in your Peace Lily’s leaves? From its name, you’d think your plant was a pacifist. So why does it look like it’s joined a fight club? This post will help you figure out why your Peace Lily’s leaves are splitting and tearing. And it will explain what you can do to prevent further damage.
When Peace Lily leaves are tearing, it’s usually because of physical damage from kids, pets, or careless owners. Severe dehydration, malnutrition, or lack of humidity can also make the foliage brittle enough to split. Some pests can make holes in Peace Lily leaves, though this is more likely in outdoor environments.
Each of these problems calls for a different approach. We’ll tell you how to tell them apart and put a stop to the issue affecting your plant. In most cases, you’ll only need to take a few simple steps to avoid more holes in your Peace Lily’s leaves.
Physical Damage to Peace Lily Leaves
By far the most common cause of ripped Peace Lily leaves is mechanical damage. That’s a fancy way of saying that something bumped, scratched, or pulled your plant’s foliage until it broke.
How extensive is the damage? If you see only one or two small holes in your Peace Lily leaves, you can usually ignore them. You’re looking at the houseplant equivalent of a skinned knee. That’s especially true if you see other signs that something has jostled your plant, such s broken stems and crumpled leaves.
It’s worth giving a little thought to your Peace Lily’s location. If it sits on the floor in an area with a lot of foot traffic, it may be at risk of further damage. Consider moving it to a more out-of-the-way spot.
Don’t forget about all-natural environmental hazards. Strong winds can damage a Peace Lily that sits near an open window or on a balcony.
Children, Pets, and Peace Lilies
Are you constantly finding new rips and tears on your Peace Lily? Do the edges of the leaves look ragged? We’re sorry to say it, but the culprit is probably your cat, dog, or toddler. Ask any true crime fan: your loved ones are the prime suspects.
If kids are the problem, your best bet is to put your Peace Lily out of reach. Once they’re old enough, you can appeal to their brains. One of the best strategies is to get your kids interested in helping raise your plants. Children often love the opportunity to be caregivers and take their responsibilities very seriously.
Get them excited about keeping your Peace Lily healthy. You may be startled to see how gently they treat it.
What about animals? Here are a few ways to encourage your pets to leave your Peace Lily alone:
- Citrus. The smell of citrus is unpleasant for both dogs and cats. Leaving a few orange or lemon peels in your Peace Lily’s pot can often make pets keep their distance. Do not use essential oils, which are strong enough to be toxic. And if you see signs that your cat is chewing on the peels, get rid of them.
- Cayenne powder. Most animals don’t like spicy food. That’s why peppers evolved to be spicy in the first place! A light dusting of cayenne powder over your Peace Lily’s leaves should discourage your plants from investigating them.
- Training. When you see your dog heading for your plant, tell her “No!” Use a calm but firm voice. Then call her over to you, and praise her when she comes. Occasional rewards like a treat or a toy will reinforce the message. You can always pair this with other tactics like clicker training.
- Cat grass. It’s normal for your cat to chew on vegetation, so try redirecting the impulse. Give him a little pot of cat grass to chomp instead. It’s fast-growing, easy to care for, and healthy for them to nibble.
Dehydration Can Split Peace Lily Leaves
If you let your Peace Lily’s leaves dry out, they’ll get even more fragile than normal. A brittle, dehydrated leaf may split at a feather-light touch or simply crack from its own weight.
When this happens, it’s usually because you let the roots dry out. These are rainforest plants, adapted to an environment that’s almost always a bit moist. Make sure you’re checking the soil every few days and watering when the top inch feels dry. See our post on watering Peace Lilies for details.
Moisture in the air is also helpful. Peace Lilies aren’t humidity divas like some plants, but they don’t do well in dry air. When the humidity drops too low, the leaves can get crispy and start to split. A humidifier is the best way to correct this, but other helpful tricks include:
- Clustering plants. When you gather tropical plants together, they pool their water vapor to create a small pocket of higher humidity.
- Pebble trays. Put your Peace Lily in a shallow dish filled with pebbles and a little bit of water. The water evaporates and boosts the humidity. Meanwhile, the stones hold the pot above the waterline to prevent root rot.
- Location, location, location. Many rooms in your home are naturally higher in humidity. Bathrooms and kitchens are the best examples.
You’ll often see other signs of dehydration if your Peace Lily’s leaves are tearing due to lack of moisture. Drooping and curling foliage is a common indicator. So is browning and crisping at the edges of the leaves.
Peace Lily Pests Can Leave Holes
Bugs are another possible source of rips in your Peace Lily’s leaves. This doesn’t happen very often with indoor plants, though. Most of the bugs that like to chew through leaves live outside.
However, if you put your Peace Lily outdoors during the warm season, it could pick up leaf-eating pests like:
- Slugs and snails. Ragged holes through the middle of a plant’s leaves are classic marks of slug damage. Look for sticky trails of slime where they climb up your Peace Lily. If you find them, try sprinkling the soil with crushed eggshells or diatomaceous earth.
- Caterpillars. The larvae from moths and butterflies like to munch leaves, often starting at the edges and moving in. You may be able to spot them and pick them off by hand. Another option is to spray the plant with neem oil. 1 teaspoon mixed into a liter of water with ⅓ of a teaspoon of gentle soap is a good bet.
Sap-sucking pests like mealybugs or spider mites are much more common in Peace Lilies. However, these bugs don’t often leave full-on holes in the leaves. If they do, the gaps will be tiny pinholes rather than big bites.
Sap-suckers will almost always leave other signs of their presence. Look for black speckles of excrement, mysterious discolored patches, wispy webs, and misshapen or stunted growth.
The neem oil treatment we recommended above is good at killing these bugs too. You might want to alternate it with sprays of insecticidal soap and swabs of rubbing alcohol. Test each pesticide on one or two leaves before dousing your whole Peace Lily. And leave a few days between treatments to let your plant recover from any stress.
What To Do About Damaged Peace Lily Leaves
Once foliage gets torn or split, it stays that way. You can take steps to prevent ongoing damage, but there’s nothing you can do to repair busted Peace Lily leaves.
Feel free to trim off torn-up foliage if you don’t like how it looks on your Peace Lily. Just remember that the undamaged parts of the leaves are still absorbing sunlight to feed your plant. If you take off too many at once, you’ll stress your Peace Lily. Never remove more than ⅓ of its leaves at a time if you can avoid it.
Before pruning damaged leaves, you should disinfect your clippers. Wipe the blades down with hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or 1 part bleach in 9 parts water. Otherwise, you could create an infection at the spot where you cut your Peace Lily. We recommend removing the entire leaf and stalk. Snip just above the spot where it connects to the rest of the plant.
Most of the time, you don’t need to worry about a couple of tears in your Peace Lily’s leaves. Make sure your plant is getting enough moisture, and move it away from rowdy kids or curious pets. Once you get your Peace Lily into a calmer location, you’re unlikely to see any more holes in its leaves.