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I recently bought a flowering house plant. I may have watered it too much, me thinks. Since my apartment gets little natural light, I put it outside on the patio the other day in direct sunlight, only for a couple hours. When I returned, my plant which was once dark green, had black, wilted leaves. Did the sun kill it? Or did the water? Usually, I give it indirect sunlight, so that seems to be the culprit.

Peace Lily Pic 1

Peace Lily Pic 2

Peace Lily Pic 3

  • I live in Los Angeles. The temperature rarely falls below 60 degrees F. I too think it's sun damage, as that was the anomaly. Good to know about the lighting conditions! It also says it's a Spathiphyllum. – DrKumar Feb 14 '15 at 19:42
  • Spathiphyllum is the latin or botanical name for this plant - common name is Peace Lily, though it has other common names too. – Bamboo Feb 15 '15 at 12:26
  • This is sunburn. One never puts a plant that hasn't been in the sun without acclimation. A few hours is all it takes to kill plant material not used to direct sun. And viseversa. Don't take plants that are used to the sun and expect them to live in the shade or indoors without acclimation. If this were cold damage the entire plant would be blackened. The leaves in the sun that were shading the leaves that are still alive are the ones that got fried. Will not kill your plant unless you do this again. And like Bamboo says, this guy doesn't like any direct sun, to include through windows. – stormy Dec 12 '16 at 0:31
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Cold is a possibility, but I don't think that's what's caused this damage; given where you are, unless you've had freak weather conditions in your particular location, it seems the temperatures recently have not fallen below 20 deg C during the day.

What has caused it is direct sunlight. These plants do not like direct sunlight even indoors - outside it would be even more damaging, particularly as the plant has probably never experienced any direct sunlight in the whole of its life. Peace lily is a reliably good low light houseplant, so perfect for your apartment.

Trim off the damaged leaves at their bases, the plant will put out more quite happily. These plants do not like to dry out completely and do seem to require a fair amount of watering. That, though, does not mean you should leave it standing in water in an outer tray or container - empty that 30 minutes after watering. Water when the surface of the compost feels just slightly dry to the touch, and stand the plant away from heat sources such as radiators - the light from any window which does not admit sun, or get any direct sunshine on it other than possibly very early morning or very late in the day, would be the most useful.

  • I would agree except that sunburn causes a different type of cell damage, leaving the leave lighter, almost khaki colored, rather than the black I saw in the op's pic. Also, the damage distribution over the plant looks more like cold damage. – J. Musser Feb 14 '15 at 21:37
  • @J.Musser - well, the asker will know which it is, since presumably he is aware of how cold or not it was - and sun damage presents in a similar fashion, or at least it did when I saw it on mine – Bamboo Feb 15 '15 at 12:15
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    @J.Musser - I've just seen the asker confirms temperatures have not been below 60deg F, as I thought, the plant was outside during the day time in sunlight, ergo, sun damage. – Bamboo Feb 15 '15 at 12:25
  • Good point, @Bamboo, I stand corrected. – J. Musser Feb 15 '15 at 14:40
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That is cold damage. It was too cold outside for your plant, and the cold damaged the cells (by expansion > rupture).

That looks like a peace lily. Here's a good article on cold damage in peace lilies. From that article:

a study by members of the University of Florida's Environmental Horticulture department showed that peace lily can be damaged by temperatures from just above 32 degrees Fahrenheit to 59 degrees Fahrenheit.

The damage began at the leaf tips and spread inwardly, with soft, brown areas turning black and then drying up.

So it looks like (for a small plant like yours anyway), you want it only to be placed in temps above 60 degrees F. This person's peace lily has also had cold damage:

enter image description here

You can avoid this later, by keeping in mind that most houseplants came from warm climates, and don't like it much below room temperature, especially if they haven't adapted, and are used to warm temps.

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