The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source
site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.
Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
A. R. Ch se, R. T. Poole, L. S. Osborne, and R. J. Henny
SUniversity of Florida, IFAS
,.'.Agricultural Research Center Apopka
,:''ARC-A Foliage Plant Research Note RH-1984-C
Spathiphyllum are attractive indoor foliage plants which
tolerate very low light levels. Spathiphyllum produce a showy white
inflorescence, consisting of a hood-shaped spathe surrounding the
spadix, which adds to their ornamental value. For this reason,
Spathiphyllum are often called Peace Lilies and sometimes White
Anthuriums. Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa' and 'Clevelandii' originally
were the two main cultivars produced. Both yield abundant seed
following self-pollination and have been produced by this method for
many years. 'Mauna Loa' may reach three feet in height with fairly
broad leaves compared to the smaller, more compact 'Clevelandii' with
its 12 to 15 inch narrow leaves. Variations in seedling populations
of 'Mauna Loa' have led to selection of several improved strains
which are now propagated true-to-type via tissue culture.
Spathiphyllum wallisii is a small, compact plant with shiny
leaves which has become a popular species recently. Even more popular
is S. 'Tasson' which is a hybrid of S. 'Mauna Loa' and S. wallisii.
'Tasson' is intermediate in size between the two parents and has shiny
foliage and normally suckers as well. Selections of 'Tasson' are also
available from tissue culture laboratories. Seed produced 'Tasson'
may vary depending upon the form of 'Mauna Loa' used as the original
parent for the hybrid.
Spathiphyllum cannifolium is a fairly large plant with a spathe
that is white on the inside and green on the outside. This plant is
not as widely grown as 'Mauna Loa' or 'Tasson' because of its slow
growth rate. Spathiphyllum floribundum is an old species with gray-
green leaves and a compact growth habit. It flowers freely but is
slow growing and has been mainly replaced by the more easily produced
cultivars discussed above. However, a new dwarf form of S. floribundum
(S. floribundum 'Mini') with gray feathery variegation in the leaf
center is beginning to be produced by some growers. The leaves of
'Mini' rarely exceed 6 inches in length.
Spathiphyllum will not tolerate high light intensities without
reduction in quality and should be grown under 1500 to 2500 foot-candles.
A fertilizer ratio (N-P205-K20) of 3-1-2 applied at a rate of
1500 lb N/A/yr (3-1/2 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet monthly
during the warm growing season and 2-1/2 pounds of nitrogen during the
Associate Professor Plant Pathology, Professor Plant Physiology,
Assistant Professor Entomology, and Associate Professor Ornamental
Horticulture, respectively, Agricultural Research Center, 2807 Binion
Road, Apopka, FL 32703.
winter months) produces high quality plants. Slow release fertilizers
and constant feed fertilization are equally effective methods of
applying nutrients. A potting soil with good aeration and high water
holding capacity is absolutely necessary. Spathiphyllum will survive
between temperatures of 40-100F, but should be maintained between
65-900F for best growth. Well grown Spathiphyllum will ship at 55-60F
for 2 weeks without loss of quality.
MAJOR PHYSIOLOGICAL PROBLEMS
1) Saturated soil medium
Symptoms Leaves are wilted or collapsed and sometimes necrotic
along leaf margins. Roots are sparse, sometimes with black
Control Reduce irrigation frequency to improve soil aeration
or utilize a potting medium with a higher pore space percentage.
This problem is more likely to occur during cold weather when
plant water needs decrease.
2) Micronutrient deficiency
Symptoms Reduced growth and chlorotic leaves are common symptoms
of micronutrient deficiency. This disorder frequently occurs
during winter months when soil is cold. Both iron (Fe) and
manganese (Mn) deficiencies have been observed in the past.
Control Increase soil temperature and improve soil aeration.
If soil is cold, application of additional micronutrients
will have little benefit. Keep soil temperatures above 650F
to avoid this problem.
3) Excess light or temperature
Symptoms Leaves may be curled, pale, and chlorotic to necrotic.
Often leaves have burned (necrotic) margins and tips.
Control Reduce the light level to 2500 ft-candles or below
and/or the temperature to 90F or lower. An increase in
fertilizer will improve plant color, but may result in excessive
levels of soluble salts and some damage.
4) Young immature plants no flowers
Symptoms Lack of flowering is especially common on young plants.
Control Plants grown for 9 to 15 months will usually bloom
between February and April, depending on winter growing
temperatures. Younger plants may be induced to flower at any
time of year using a foliar spray of 200 ppm of GA
(Gibberellic acid). Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa' produced 20%
distorted blooms following GA3 treatment. Distortion consisted
of malformed spathes or contorted peduncles and was independent
of the GA3 rate used. Spathiphyllum floribundum produced
blooms lacking the distortions observed in 'Mauna Loa'. However,
all of the blooms produced on S. 'Clevelandii' were severely
distorted following GA treatment. Flower size on GA3-treated
plants is generally smaller than on plants blooming naturally.
Plants normally have open blooms 12 to 16 weeks after treatment
with GA3 depending upon their growth rate; plants flower sooner
in the summer than during the winter.
DISEASES OF SPATHIPHYLLUM
Spathiphyllum are subject to a variety of diseases caused by fungi.
Bacteria do not usually cause problems on these plants and only one
virus disease has been identified on Spathiphyllum. Avoidance of the
fungal root and stem rot diseases is essential since few chemicals are
effective in eradicating the problem once started. Always use pathogen-
free plantlets from tissue culture or seedlings from pathogen-free
MAJOR FUNGAL PATHOGENS
1) Aerial blight (Phytophthora sp.)
Symptoms Large (up to 1 inch wide) black or brown dead spots form
on leaf margins and centers. Spots (lesions) are wet and mushy
under moist conditions but may dry if plant foliage is kept dry.
Control Keep plant foliage dry and grow plants in sterilized
potting medium on raised benches away from the native soil.
Soil drenches and foliar sprays with Truban or Subdue are
effective in controlling this problem although neither is
labeled for use on this crop at this time. Always treat both
soil and foliage since the pathogen moves from the potting
medium onto the foliage.
2) Cylindrocladium root rot (Cylindrocladium spathiphylli)
Symptoms One of the first symptoms of this root rot disease is
yellowing of lower leaves, sometimes accompanied by slight
wilting. Elliptical dark brown spots may be found on leaves
and petioles and lower portions of petioles frequently rot.
At this stage, the roots of the plants are severely rotted and
few healthy roots are found. Tops of such plants are easily
removed from the pot without any adhering roots.
Control Control of this root rot disease must be based first
upon use of pathogen-free plants from either tissue culture or
seed sources. Use of sterile potting medium and pots and
growing plants on clean or "sterilized" raised benches are also
important in reducing the chances of disease development.
Chemical treatments are not completely effective, but Benlate
is labeled and provides the best available chemical control
of this disease. Spathiphyllum cultivars tested to date were
susceptible to Cylindrocladium root rot with the exception
of S. floribundum. This species is a host of the pathogen,
but is highly resistant and shows no root loss when infected
with Cylindrocladium spathiphylli.
3) Myrothecium leaf spot (Myrothecium roridum)
Symptoms Brown to black circular lesions form on leaf margins
and centers. The lesions may have concentric rings of light
and dark tissue or they may be watersoaked and uniformly black
in color. The lower surface of the lesion frequently has the
fungal fruiting bodies present, which are irregularly shaped,
black and have a white fringe around the borders.
Control Small tissue cultured plantlets are highly susceptible
to this disease and may be lost if precautions are not taken.
Daconil and maneb compounds provide the best chemical control
of this leaf spot disease although they are not yet labeled
on this crop. Benlate also provides some control and is legal
for use on Spathiphyllum. Disease is worst during periods of
the year when air temperatures are between 60 and 900F. Little,
if any, disease occurs at other times.
4) Pythium root rot (Pythium sp.)
Symptoms Roots are blackened and mushy and the outer cortex is
easily removed from the inner core. This stage looks identical
to the root rot symptom caused by Cylindrocladium spathiphylli
and diagnosis by a plant pathology laboratory is mandatory to
distinguish between the diseases. Foliage of plants with
Pythium root rot is frequently chlorotic and wilted.
Control Use the cultural controls listed under Cylindrocladium
root rot. In addition,the chemicals listed for aerial blight
caused by Phytophthora will also control Pythium root rot when
applied to the potting medium.
1) Dasheen Mosaic Virus (DMV)
Symptoms A mosaic pattern of light green to yellow is found on
the new leaves of infected plants at various times during the
year. No leaf distortion normally occurs. This disease does
not appear to cause economically significant losses in
Spathiphyllum production for the majority of growers.
Control Other araceous plants which are susceptible to DMV can
be sources of infection for the Spathiphyllum. Always discard
and destroy plants with these symptoms and control aphids
since they serve as vectors of the virus. Sometimes genetic
disorders appear similar to DMV.
PHYTOTOXICITY OF FUNGICIDES ON SPATHIPHYLLUM
Banrot 40 WP Maneb compounds
Benlate 50 WP Ornalin 50 WP
Captan 50 WP Subdue 2 E
Chipco 26019 Truban 5 G and 30 WP
Fungo 50 WP Zyban 75 WP
tested at recommended rates
MAJOR INSECT AND MITE PESTS
The arthropod pests of Spathiphyllum are of relatively minor
importance, but include caterpillars, mealybugs, scales, and thrips.
Mealybug and scale infestations often begin by bringing infested
plant material into the greenhouse. Moths and thrips invade the
greenhouse by flying in from weeds and other infested plants outside.
In the control section for each pest a few of the many registered
and effective pesticides are listed. For a complete listing,
please consult the references at the end of this report.
1) Caterpillars (worms)
Symptoms Infestations are easy to detect because worms, their
excrement and the damage they cause, are usually quite
visible to the unaided eye. Damage appears as holes in the
center or along the edges of leaves. Old damage can be
distinguished from new by the calloused appearance of the
damaged areas (worms are usually gone by this time).
Control Lannate, Orthene, Dursban, Sevin, Dycarb or Ficam,
Mavrik, and Bacillus thuringiensis are effective in the
control of various worm species.
Symptoms Mealybugs appear
on the lower surfaces of
and sooty mold are often
stunted and, with severe
as white cottony masses in leaf axiles,
leaves and on the roots. Honeydew
present, and infested plants become
infestations, plant parts begin to die.
Control Systemic materials are preferred. Examples of chemicals
which have systemic activity are: Cygon, Disyston, Metasystox-R,
and Orthene. Dycarb or Ficam appear to be as effective as some
of the systemic materials. Control of root mealybugs may be
accomplished with soil drenches of Diazinon or Vydate. Both
are registered for this purpose, but can cause phytotoxicity.
When pesticides are applied to the soil, care must be taken to
assure that pots have good drainage and that saucers are not
used or phytotoxicity may result.
Symptoms Infested plants become weakened or stunted and begin to
die. Scales can be found feeding on leaves, petioles, or stems.
Their shape, size, and color are variable and many are hard to
distinguish from the plant material on which they are feeding.
Control See Mealybugs
Symptoms Infested leaves become curled or distorted, with silver-
gray scars or calloused areas where feeding has occurred.
Control Many materials are registered and effective at controlling
Phytotoxicity data for this plant are limited. However, Spathiphyllum
is listed on the label of both Lannate L and Dycarb. Recent information
indicates that Spathiphyllum can be damaged by Orthene when temperatures
exceed 90F or they have received excessive amounts of fertilizer.
1. Chase, A. R. 1983. Phytotoxicity of some fungicides used on
tropical foliage plants. ARC-Apopka Research Report, RH-83-2.
2. Short, D. E. 1978. Phytotoxicity of insecticides and miticides to
foliage and woody ornamental plants. Extension Entomology Report #57.
3. Short, D. E., L. S. Osborne, and R. W. Henley. 1982. 1982-83 Insect
and related arthropod management guide for commercial foliage and
woody plants in Florida. Extension Entomology Report #52.
4. Simone, G. W. 1983. Fungicides for use on ornamentals 1983-84.
Extension Plant Pathology Circular 484-A.
Mention of a commercial or proprietary product or of a pesticide in this
paper does not constitute a recommendation by the authors, nor does it
imply registration under FIFRA as amended. Pesticides should be applied
according to label directions. Those pesticides listed in the control
sections for each disorder but not listed in the phytotoxicity charts
HAVE NOT been tested for plant safety at the University of Florida.