Lily that means peace

South American export Spathiphyllum in flower.
South American export Spathiphyllum in flower.
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MOST people eventually get tired of winter – all the snow, ice and grey skies – so that’s why many consider gardening indoors where it’s them, not Nature, which has the final say over the temperature.

A conservatory is now a common sight, but many people use them purely for social occasions rather than growing plants. But a conservatory without a few pots containing a variety of greenery and flowers is a sad place.

Even if you aren’t a brilliant gardener, there are some plants which will still thrive with only a modicum of care. And one of the easiest to grow is Spathiphyllum, the peace lily.

It’s one of Britain’s best-loved and most common houseplants but it’s also one of the most neglected, left to fend for itself in places where most plants would simply refuse to grow.

So that’s why you can find a peace lily in a dark hallway, or alongside a radiator turned up to max, or anywhere where a plant is required to be.

But a conservatory or a kitchen windowsill, where it can receive plenty of natural light, a moist atmosphere and a minimum temperature of 60F suits it far better and allows it to express itself.

Spathiphyllum comes from South America, so here it’s a long way from home. Perhaps we should make it more welcome – give it the right growing conditions and look out for red spider mite or leaves which shrivel and drop 
off.

Hot, dry air is responsible for the both problems, so mist the foliage in summer with tepid water and stand the plant on a dish of moist gravel to keep the air moist.

In spring (that means now) repot and replace the compost. If necessary, split the large rootball, clean off the rhizomes and give them their own individual pots... several perfect little plants can be obtained from just one parent.

When the long-lived flower(s) start to look past their best, cut them off as close to the base as possible.

Spathiphyllum is more than just a plant – it helps to clean indoor air of many environmental contaminants, including benzene, formaldehyde, and other pollutants, so it’s certainly worth growing in the average home.

Conversely, the peace lily contains calcium oxalate crystals which can cause skin irritation. But I think it’s worth the risk. Just wear gloves.