Peace Lily

Yes, it’s VERY COLD, but there are some gorgeous flowers blooming in the greenhouses right now.The tropical warmth of the Horridge Conservatory is hard to imagine when you’re walking across campus in 12 degree weather …..but it really is toasty in here, especially when the sun comes out.

Winter days are not only shorter, but the angle of the sun is lower. Plants which favor low-light conditions in their native habitats will often flower in the winter here. They make good houseplants, since they don’t need sun as much as they need light. One of these is the Peace Lily, Spathyphyllum species. It’s not a true lily, but rather in the Araceae family with relatives such as Philodendron, Colocasia (Elephant Ear), and Symplocarpus (Skunk Cabbage).  There are about 40 different species of these herbaceous perennials, which are native to tropical areas of the world. Peace Lilies grow best with indirect light,  humidity, and warm temperatures. Spathyphyllum wallisii is flowering in the Conservatory now.  It’s a large clump–3 feet  across–and about 36″ high with the white inflorescense held another 8 or so inches above the shiny dark green leaves.

Peace Lilies, along with other types of tropical plants,  have been shown to help clean indoor air of chemical pollutants. The research was initially done by NASA,  focused  on indoor air pollution abatement. Chemicals like formaldehyde (found in products like particle board and some cleaning products)and benzene (a solvent found in gasoline, inks, oils, paint, plastic and rubber, among other things) can be removed from indoor air by houseplants, and Peace Lily is among the most effective.

It’s not hard to keep a Spathyphyllum plant looking good  at home.  A bright north or east facing window is often enough light. 65-85 degrees is ideal and no cold drafts please ! Water when the soil begins to feel dry, but never let it dry out completely. They like plenty of water and high humidity. Misting with plain water keeps more moisture in the air around the plant , and keeping the leaves free of dust will help it stay healthy and beautiful.

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