Peace Lily: Meaning, Symbolism, and Proper Occasions

Beautiful white flowers and green leaves of tropical peace lily flower spathiphyllum on a light background.
© iStock.com/Galina Tolochko

Written by Sammi Caramela

Updated: August 21, 2023

Share on:

Advertisement


The peace lily (Spathiphyllum) is a hardy, beautiful flowering plant that’s in the Araceae family. Many people keep peace lilies as indoor houseplants because of their gorgeous white flowers, durable nature, and contribution to air quality. In fact, peace lilies are known to eliminate dangerous airborne contaminants. Additionally, peace lilies have many spiritual meanings and religious symbolism.

Tranquility, purity, and healing are a few common themes associated with the plant. Across various cultures, the peace lily has a rich history and conveys sympathy and support to recipients of the beautiful plant. 

Naive to tropical regions in the Americas and throughout Southeastern Asia and originating from Colombia’s and Venezuela’s tropical rainforests, the plant thrives in warm, humid environments. It wasn’t until 1870 that the plant was known across Europe and now other locations. While it includes “lily” in its name, the peace lily is actually not a true lily.

Today, many adore peace lilies for their gentle beauty, greenery, and cleansing properties. The peace lily has many different spiritual meanings, with powerful symbolism across various cultures and religions. Keep reading to learn more about what peace lilies symbolize and some special occasions they’re used for. 

What Is a Peace Lily?

The perennial blooming peace lily is an evergreen plant that flowers during the spring and sometimes again in autumn, depending on its environment and care. Its spathe-like flowers are white and resemble a white flag — often representing peace and surrender.

Many people adore this houseplant’s symbolism and ability to cleanse a space. Spiritually, the peace lily represents hope, healing, and other positive themes. 

A Spathiphyllum Wallisii or peace lily plant being delicately touched by hands

Peace lilies contribute to a healthy indoor environment.

©iStock.com/perfectlab

Appearance

Peace lilies are evergreen plants with glossy, oval, dark green leaves. Each year (usually during spring and sometimes again in autumn), the plant grows large, fragrant, white flowers that look similar to calla lilies. Most peace lily plants will grow between 1 to 4 feet tall and 1 to 4 feet wide.

Native Habitat

Peace lilies are native to tropical rainforests in Colombia and Venezuela and throughout most of the Americas and Southeastern Asia. They thrive in warm, humid climates. 

Growing Tips

Peace lilies do best indoors with indirect yet bright sunlight. However, this plant is extremely hardy, so you could likely still keep it alive and well in a dark room. They also prefer moderately moist soil, and they’ll communicate with you when they’re in need of more water (their leaves droop and immediately perk back up once fed). 

In terms of temperature, peace lilies prefer warm temperatures between 68 degrees Fahrenheit and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, with nighttime temperatures of 10 degrees Fahrenheit lower. Any temperature consistently below 60 degrees Fahrenheit can cause damage, however, so beware. In terms of fertilizer, peace lilies prefer evenly-balanced fertilizers with 10-10-10 NPK.

Can Peace Lilies Be Grown Outside?

Yes, peace lilies can be grown outside if you live in zones 10 to 12. Otherwise, they’re best kept as houseplants. If you reside in an area that falls into the correct hardiness zones for peace lilies, you can plant them outside in a shady area where they’ll get ambient light, as direct sunlight can scorch their leaves. Make sure the soil is consistently moist and well-draining. 

Peace Lily Meaning and Symbolism

Peace lilies carry deep symbolism and spiritual associations. Read on to learn more about the specific meanings of peace lilies.

A peace lily potted plant growing indoors with a self-watering globe device in its soil

Peace lilies often thrive as indoor potted houseplants.

©iStock.com/Helin Loik-Tomson

Peace and Tranquility

As the name suggests, peace lilies often represent peace and tranquility. Their gentle nature and ability to cleanse the air around them offer a sense of serenity many search for. They also add a gorgeous dose of greenery to your space, with elegant white blooms occasionally decorating the plant during spring. 

Surrender and Acceptance

Because their flowers resemble a white flag, peace lilies are often associated with surrender — like waving a white flag to call a truce. The plant symbolizes acceptance, even during the most difficult times. Challenges will arise in life, but the peace lily reminds us that we can surrender our problems to a higher power or collective energy and trust that everything will be okay.

Purity and Innocence

White is the color for purity and innocence in most religions (especially Christianity). In Feng Shui, the peace lily is actually used to bring purity to a room or home. Even when the plant isn’t flowering with its gorgeous white blooms, it’s still (scientifically speaking) a purifying plant, as it cleanses the air of toxic contaminants. 

Healing and Cleansing

As mentioned above, the peace lily cleanses the air around it. This contributes to a healthy environment that encourages healing. In fact, many believe the houseplant helps balance energies and bring harmony to someone’s home. It’s often associated with a speedy recovery and a reduction of symptoms caused by various types of ailments.

Hope and Renewal

The peace lily is meant to spark hope, as it promises new blooms each spring. Many also view the plant as a symbol of renewal, as it continues to flourish through all the seasons, featuring new leaves and flowers as it grows. Many Feng Shui practitioners believe in the peace lily’s ability to bring hopefulness into a space as well. 

Good Fortune and Prosperity

Many people view the peace lily as a positive omen — a symbol of good fortune. The peace lily’s lush, glossy green leaves are associated with prosperity. Gifting this plant to a loved one or showcasing it in your own home can attract abundance and luck.

Spiritual Significance

Spiritually, the peace lily holds various meanings, with most reflecting the common themes mentioned above. It also frequently serves as a symbol of womanhood and feminine energy. The peace lily reminds us of women’s gentle, loving, yet resilient nature. This plant produces gorgeous blooms and demonstrates exceptional durability. However, when it lacks proper care, the peace lily readily displays its withering leaves, mirroring how we can express our vulnerability while maintaining our strength.

Peace Lily Proper Occasions

Boasting elegance and fragrant blooms, the peace lily makes the perfect gift for various special occasions.

A peace lily being watered in a pot

Gifting a loved one with a peace lily is a great way to express your love and care for them.

©iStock.com/Liudmila Chernetska

Get-Well-Soon Gift

Because of their healing properties and ability to cleanse a space of toxicity, the peace lily is perfect for those who are recovering from an illness or surgery. The plant also promises hope during difficult times and can serve as a token of luck and fortune. Because of its durability and natural beauty, it’s the perfect gift for those who might not be able to properly care for a more needy houseplant. 

Peace Offering

Humans aren’t perfect. We all have the ability to disagree and say things we don’t mean and wish we could take back. If you’ve recently been arguing with a loved one and want to wave your white flag, gift them a peace lily as a peace offering. Not only will they likely appreciate the beauty of the houseplant, but they might also see it as a reminder of your love and care for them.

Pregnancy or New Baby Celebration

Symbolizing renewal and purity, the peace lily is a great gift for a pregnant or new mother. Whether your loved one recently announced their pregnancy or just had their baby, purchasing a peace lily for their home will uphold the pure energy of new life. 

Housewarming

Peace lilies make great housewarming gifts, as they’re known to cleanse a space of negativity and cultivate positive energy. New homes can use a dose of good fortune that doubles as beautiful decor.


Share this post on:
About the Author

Sammi is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering cats, nature, symbolism, and spirituality. Sammi is a published author and has been writing professionally for six+ years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Writing Arts and double minors in Journalism and Psychology. A proud New Jersey resident, Sammi loves reading, traveling, and doing yoga with her little black cat, Poe.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.