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Can I Use Cactus Soil For Peace Lily?

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Peace Lily plants have long been a favorite for many and the appeal is easy to see. They bring a simple, graceful aesthetic to your home or garden but they also help to purify the air wherever you choose to place them. You’ll need to house them properly, of course, which brings us to today’s topic.

Can I use cactus soil for Peace Lily?

The good news is that ‘yes, you can’, although you might want to make a few modifications to your commercial or DIY cactus soil and we’ll tell you exactly how to do that so that your resulting soil is optimized for your Peace lilies.

We’ll also share a more specialized recipe for those of you that DON’T want to use cactus soil, as well as an easy-as-pie DIY fertilizer recipe and some troubleshooting tips on the off-chance that your Lilies aren’t looking their best.

Let’s talk about cactus soil, Peace Lilies, and what you need to know about both!

Cactus soil – What’s in it and what do Peace Lilies need?

Flowering peace lilies
Flowering peace lilies

To properly explain why cactus soil can be an excellent growth medium for Peace Lillies, it’s important to understand a little more about what Peace Lilies need and what cactus soil brings to the table that regular potting soil is lacking.

Peace lilies like to have a rich potting mix (or compost) that’s a bit acidic, with a pH falling between 5.8 and 6.5 and provided that they have this, they can take just a wide range of environmental factors in stride – these are tough little plants.

The DO have one weakness, however, and that is their vulnerability to root rot!

Due to this, a standard potting soil isn’t generally going to cut it – it tends to retain too much moisture, which can increase the chances of root rot if you’re tired and accidentally overwater your lilies one day.

A compost medium with added coir, worm castings, perlite, and pine bark could be used to create a potting soil that your peace lilies would thrive in, but what if you simply tweaked some cactus soil a bit? What would be the perks in that?

Well, cactus soil starts things off ideally where Peace Lilies are concerned, in that they are largely made of assorted inorganic matter – sand, pumice, gravel, perlite – with a little coco coir or maybe some Sphagnum peat moss. If we break it down into perks, it looks a little something like this:

  • Nutrition – Cactus soil is low in nutrients but that’s okay – you can have complete control over what fertilizers you add and encourage a consistent level of nutrients without having to test the soil.
  • Aeration – Potting soil is quite a bit more dense than cactus soil, so by using the latter you’ll have better aeration for your Peace Lilies roots.
  • Water retention and drainage – Potting soil has a lot of organics added, which make the soil quite fertile but which also pose a water retention hazard – even with perlite added, you’ll get some extra moisture trapped there and this could increase chances of root rot. With cactus soil, that’s not a problem, and you also get superior drainage. Basically, when you water your Lillie,the water will pass through and be retained just long enough for the roots to take what they need.

These benefits are pretty good on their own, but to make it just about perfect, we’re going to add a little pine bark. Provided that we don’t overdo it with the bark, you can get a slightly improved moisture retention without endangering your Peace Lilies.

As an added bonus, the bark improves aeration a little and as it expands and decomposes, you’ll get a useful release of stored carbon and nutrients that will supercharge your cactus soil to the Lily’s benefit. It’s simple, effective, and we’ll tell you to make it with your home DIY or commercial cactus soil!

Making your own enhanced cactus soil for Peace lilies

Cactus soil mix
Cactus soil mix

This is one of the easiest recipes for a soil medium that you’re going to find, in that you just need cactus soil and some pine bark to make it. The cactus soil already has superior aeration and draining, so what we’re doing here is just tweaking it to perfection with the bark.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 parts cactus soil
  • 1 part pine bark

Once you’ve mixed up 2 parts cactus soil to 1 part pine bark, you’ve got what you need! A superior draining soil with some stored up carbon and extra nutrients in your bark, and since cactus soil is already acidic (with pH ranges of 5.5 to 6.5), your Peace lilies will feel right at home.

While you could substitute 2 parts potting soil for the 2 parts cactus, we don’t recommend this – you’ll retain extra moisture and increase your chances of root rot. Just stick with this basic recipe and you’ll have a soil medium your Lillies can thrive in and a little extra insurance against overwatering.

If you would prefer to use a soil medium that isn’t based on cactus soil, then you can use the recipe in the next section instead – it’s your call! With that said, let’s look at the next recipe!

An alternative ‘Non-cactus-soil’ based recipe you can use

We realize that not everyone is on-board with the whole ‘let’s just modify some cactus soil’ solution and for those who feel like making their Peace Lily soil completely by scratch, we have an alternative recipe that you can take advantage of.

Peace lilies are part of the Araceae family, which is to say that they are ‘aroid’ plants. Aroid plants have their own unique root systems, including aerial roots, as well as the neat little trait of being able to grow from a stem or even a single leaf.

With that in mind, we’ll be sharing a recipe with you from Kaylee Ellen that’s specifically for aroids like your Peace Lilies, for those of our readers who don’t want to use commercial soil at all and prefer to whip something up from scratch.

What you’ll need:

  • 5 parts orchid bark
  • 5 parts perlite
  • 4 parts coco coir
  • 2 parts worm castings
  • 2 parts activated charcoal (must be activated – this is important)

Once you’ve got all of your ingredients, all that you need to do is mix them well in a large bowl or a bucket and you can use this for your Peace Lilies.

It costs a bit more than the modified cactus soil but it’s also a highly customized aroid plant mix and if you have a lot of Peace lilies around the house or simply prefer something 100% homemade, then this is a great alternative soil medium that you can use that will produce excellent results.

Easy DIY fertilizer and commercial options for your Peace lilies

Professional Liquid Peace Lily Plant Fertilizer | 3-1-2 Concentrate for Plants and Flowers | Multi-Purpose Blend & Gardening Supplies | 8 oz Bottle

It’s always best to hedge your bets with a little fertilizer. This ensures that your Peace Lilies are not only getting basic nutrition, but also some added boost to grow up happy and healthy.

As far as fertilizers go, Peace Lilies aren’t all that complicated – they want potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen. The potassium in the fertilizer helps to ensure that water gets to where it needs to go in the plant, while the phosphorus helps to ensure a robust root system.

The nitrogen helps to add a little kick to your Peace Lily’s growth cycle, and this DIY fertilizer will take care of the nitrogen part. To make it, simply take a jar and fill it with a 1 to 1 ratio of water and grass clippings and let it steep for approximately 3 days.

After that, pour your clipping-water through a sieve to get out the grass bits and use this water to fertilize your Peace Lilies once every 3 months to boost their nitrogen levels.

You’ll still need to supplement their potassium and phosphorus with another fertilizer that is low in nitrogen and you need to use the clipping water within 2 days of making it, but this is a simple way to fertilize your lilies that is effective and won’t cost you a penny!

Alternatively, you can use a commercial fertilizer and there are some great ones out there. We’d recommend Leaves and Soul Professional Liquid Peace Lily Plant Fertilizer or Easy Peasy Liquid All Purpose Indoor Plant Food.

With Leaves and Soul Professional liquid Peace lily plant fertilizer, you get an 8 ounce bottle of concentrate fertilizer that rates a 3-1-2 for Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium, and by adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of the concentrate to 8 cups of water you’ll have plenty of fertilizer for all your Peace Lilies.

With the Easy Peasy All Purpose Indoor Plant Food, you get a more powerful 4-3-4 fertilizer that also comes in an 8 ounce bottle, but to use it you’ll only need half a teaspoon for watering or you can add a full teaspoon to a minimum of 2 cups of water and you’re ready to water multiple Peace Lilies!

Common Peace lily issues and how to fix them

It’s always good to know the signs of trouble when you are raising a plant and so we thought we’d share some common Peace Lily issues with you so that you’ll know what to look for. To keep things simple, we’ll divide these tips up into 3 categories:

  • General issues
  • Flower issues
  • Leaf problems

General issues

In this section, we’ll cover some general issues with the plant that aren’t specific to the leaves or flowers, but rather the plant itself or the soil. Let’s take a look!

Moldy soil

Sometimes you’ll notice on the topsoil a film, which usually looks like white cobwebs, and if you do then you’re probably looking at mold. This is a bad sign – it indicates moisture retention and might be a sign that you’re overwatering, and Peace Lillies are super-susceptible to root rot so we definitely don’t want either of those scenarios!

If you are using regular potting soil, then you may want to completely repot the plant with one of our recommended soil recipes and add a little fungicide on stop for good measure.

If you are already using a well-draining, well-aerated soil, then simply replace the topsoil and spray some fungicide on top to ensure that it clears up.

Mushy stems

Mushy stems are almost always a sign of overwatering or of the soil retaining too much moisture. It is easiest to spot by the drooping it will cause the plant and when you feel the stems, they’ll feel very soft rather than supportive.

This is quite serious and in order to save the plant, we recommend that you report it in a modified cactus soil medium like we’ve shared today but before repotting the plant, you’ll need to check the roots to trim any unhealthy ones and you’ll also need to remove affected stems.

There’s no guarantee it will survive, but water it sparingly and give it a little half-strength fertilizer and with a little luck it will perk back up!

Wilting/Stunted growth

If your Peace Lily has been thriving but all of the sudden it’s starting to droop with no changes in its care routine, then you may need to put it in a bigger pot.

Check the drainage holes in the pot and it will help you to confirm this – often you’ll see roots poking out that indicate the Peace Lily has simply outgrown its current pot.

These plants are fairly moderate growers, so this can sometimes happen and then the plant ends up root-bound and refuses to grow further. If this doesn’t seem to be the case, then it may not be getting enough nutrients or sunlight.

Ideally, they need 2 to 4 hours of bright, indirect light, so if they are getting that and the Lily is definitely not root-bound, then give it a little fertilizer so that it gets a nice burst of nutrition and see if that helps.

Flower issues

Sometimes your Peace Lily seems to be growing fine, up until the point that it flowers. We’ll cover a few basic scenarios in this section, as well as what you can do to help if the distinctive flowers you are expecting are ‘off’ or not showing up at all!

Brown flowers

The good news with brown flowers is that sometimes you’re just looking at a normal, expected cycle. Peace Lily flowers don’t last forever, and when the blooming period ends those flowers will turn brown and fall off.

If it’s affecting your ‘aesthetics groove’, simply prune them when this starts and you’ll see them again when the next blooming cycle begins. We should note, however, that this can occur prematurely with too little watering, too much sunlight, or if you’ve recently moved the plant under an AC vent.

Green flowers

When you see green flowers on a Peace Lily, don’t panic – its flowers are actually modified leaves to begin with, so it’s not really a critical scenario. What causes the flowers to stay green is typically one of two things – too much sunlight or too many nutrients.

Your Peace Lily thrives best with a low-light environment, where it will be getting 2 to 4 hours of bright, indirect sunlight. If it is already getting this, then you can use water to flush the excess fertilizer out and you might try skipping the fertilizer or diluting it to half strength next time

This won’t make the current flowers change to white, unfortunately – they’ll still be green – but flushing out the excess can help to ensure that new flowers won’t turn out green as well.

No flowers at all

If you aren’t getting any flowers at all, then you need to check your entire care routine. Start off by making sure they’re getting the right amount of sunlight and that they aren’t sitting under a cold AC vent. After ruling those out, it may be that your Lilies aren’t getting enough nutrients or water.

Leaf Problems

Our final category to check is leaf problems and these are, of course, just about the easiest problems to spot. Below you’ll find some common leaf problems and what you’ll need to do to remediate them.

Black leaves

Black spots on leaves can be indicative of disease or if they are circular and ‘hollowed-out’ (basically holes with black edges), then it could be a sign of pests.

With the pests, a little neem oil will usually do the trick, but for disease you need to move your Peace Lily somewhere it will be along to quarantine it and trim off the affected leaves. If MOST of the leaves seem to have blackened overnight, then it probably means you’re using too much fertilizer.

In that case, you should flush the soil to get out as much of that fertilizer as you can and hold off on fertilizing it again for a few months – and do so only at half-strength to see if your plant takes this better.

Brown leaves, brown spots, or brown tips

Completely brown leaves are usually the result of missing a few watering sessions unless the air in their location is super-dry – if that’s the case, you might move the Lily to the bathroom or make a pebble tray to improve the humidity for your tropical Peace Lily.

If you are seeing brown spots, then it’s typically one of two culprits – too much sunlight or pests. If your plant is placed somewhere that it’s getting direct, instead of indirect light, then you’ll need to move it and ensure it only gets 2-4 hours of bright, indirect light.

If you suspect pests, then apply a little neem oil and that should do the trick nicely.

Brown tips are usually a sign of underwatering, so make sure that you are watering your Peace Lillies at least once a week and keeping the schedule regular.

White powder on the leaves

White, powdery leaves are either mildew or a sign that mealybugs have taken an interest in your Peace Lily. A fungicide wipe-down can deal with mildew while neem oil or insecticidal soap should take care of a mealybug infestation.

Wilted or curling leaves

If you are experiencing wilting leaves, it can be a sign of over or underwatering. With overwatering, what you are seeing is the effects of the beginning of root rot, but it’s much more commonly just that you aren’t watering the plant enough.

Check the topsoil and you can’t go wrong – if the top inch is dry, then water your plant until it comes out of the drainage holes, and don’t water it again until that top inch is dry. If you suspect overwatering, however, you’ll need to check the roots and trim any that have gone black before repotting.

Yellow leaves

If leaves are starting to turn solid yellow, check for mushy stems (see our general section). Leaves will turn yellow in cases of overwatering and mushy stems are a dead-giveaway that this is the case. If they are turning yellow with brown tips, however, then you are underwatering them.

Finally, if you are seeing yellow, but only as yellow spots on the green leaves, then give them a closer look. If those spots are almost perfectly round, it’s probably pests such as thrips making a meal of the leaves and some neem oil should show them who’s boss.

If the spots are yellow and light green, then it could be chlorosis.

This is less common but if you’ve had your Peace Lilies for awhile and have not repotted them, then it might be a good time to do so or to at least add a little fertilizer to increase the nutritional content of the soil (in a pinch- you should still repot your Peace Lily once every 1 – 2 years).

FAQ

That’s just about all the time that we have for today, but before we check out we wanted to share a few frequently asked questions about Peace Lilies and cactus soil that thought you might find helpful. Let’s take a look and then we’ll proceed to wrap things up officially!

What kind of soil does a peace lily need?

Peace Lily plants like a well-draining soil medium that also has some rich organic matter. It should be a slightly acidic soil, with a pH of 5.5-6.5 (or ideally, 5.8-6.5), and for best results you’ll want to repot the Peace Lily once every 1 – 2 years.

Can you use cactus soil for other plants beside Peace lilies?

Generally, no, it’s not a good idea to use cactus soil for most plants, as it simply drains too fast. Cactus and succulent soil is designed to mimic the soil in rocky and desert environments and its quick-draining qualities can result in a soil medium that is too dry or lacks the moisture retention many plants need.

Do peace lilies like acidic soil?

Yes, Peace lilies do like their soil to be slightly acidic, and this is why cactus soil is often used to house these plants. The ideal pH range for these plants is 5.8 to 6.5, although 5.5 to 6.5 will do in a pinch.

Video On Mixing Soil for Aroids

In Conclusion

Today we have answered the question ‘Can I use cactus soil for Peace Lily?’ and the answer is a resounding ‘yes!’. Cactus soil is a good fit as it is well-draining and has the proper acidity with its 5.5-6.5 pH to make the Peace Lily feel right at home.

By adding a little pine bark as our recipe today suggests, you’ll get a little extra aeration and nutrients as the bark decomposes, so that you’ll retain a little more moisture without going overboard and putting the plant at risk of root rot.

Provided that you tweak the soil as-recommended or go with the alternative aroid soil, with a good watering schedule and fertilizing every 3 months you should have a happy, healthy Peace Lily in no time. All it takes after that is a little bit of patience and a whole lot of love!