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Peace Lilies – Meaning and Symbolism

Known for its air-purifying abilities, the peace lily is a popular houseplant not only because it can neutralize toxic gases like carbon monoxide and formaldehyde but also because it is relatively easy to grow at home.  

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While they initially flourished on forest grounds, these evergreen plants can survive well indoors if they receive enough sunlight, moisture, and humidity.

Peace lilies are also quite pretty, particularly their snowy white flowers that bloom in the early summer and last through most of the year in the right setting. However, they’re mildly toxic and can cause stomach and respiratory irritation if ingested in large quantities.  

This plant can be confusing and intriguing to those who are not very familiar with the species because while it is called a peace lily, it is not a true lily and does not belong to the lily family. What appears to be its flowers are not because they are just modified leaves which are also known as spathes.  

The spathes in a peace lily are mostly white, but they can also appear green in some species, and each one surrounds a spike covered with the actual flowers, which appear like tiny spots on a pole.   

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What do Peace Lilies Represent? 

With a clean combination of green and white shades, peace lilies are often used to represent innocence, purity, healing, hope, peace, chastity, virtue, sympathy, and prosperity. As indoor plants, many feng shui experts recommend them when there’s a need to achieve balance, reduce tension, or attract positive energy in the office or inside the household.

In some countries, the peace lily is given as a gift to represent sympathy or to extend their wishes for longevity. For Christians, the plant is sometimes used to symbolize the resurrection of Christ, their spiritual leader. Some legends also claim that the peace lily can regrow a leaf within 24 hours after it gets broken off, though this has no scientific basis.  

Peace lily in a ceramic pot
Peace lily plant by From You Flowers. Check the price here.

There are many meanings and symbols that are associated with peace lilies around the world. Here is a list of the more popular ones and the reasons behind each symbolism: 

1. Harmony 

True to its name, the peace lily is often used to represent harmony or peace. This is mainly because the white spathe on the plant is reminiscent of the white flag that is recognized worldwide as a sign of truce. Thus, if you want to settle a personal feud or clear up a misunderstanding, try sending peace lilies to the other party to express your good intentions.  

2. Hope  

As an evergreen plant, the peace lily also stands for hope. Evergreen plants remain fresh throughout the year and are not affected by the changing of seasons. As such, the peace lily is a reminder from nature that there is always something to look forward to in the future, no matter how rough the present may be.  

3. Serenity 

In Feng Shui, the peace lily is believed to have a calming effect on its environment. Feng Shui is a Chinese practice dating back centuries where buildings, objects, and space are arranged deliberately with the objective of achieving harmony and balance in a particular setting.  

Peace lilies are recommended by Feng Shui experts whenever there is a need to dispel disruptive energy in a place because they believe that the plant has strong cleansing and calming effects. 

4. Healing 

Peace lily comfort planter bouquet
Peace lily comfort planter bouquet by FTD. Check the price here.

Aside from serenity, feng shui also associates the peace lily with balance and spiritual healing. As such, the plant is an ideal gift for someone recovering from illness or trying to cope with a problem. Because of its ability to clear the air of harmful elements, it’s believed that the plant can protect people from dark energy that can cause mental, emotional, and spiritual imbalance. It can also help others to expand their consciousness and create a feeling of wholeness or satisfaction.  

5. Purity 

Peace lilies have also been associated with purity because of the plant’s ability to cleanse its surroundings of toxins and other harmful elements in the air. Aside from this, the stark white flower or spathe on the plant reminds people of innocence and virtue because white shades are typically used to represent these two positive traits.  

The plant is especially significant for the Catholics who associate it with the Virgin Mary, who is the embodiment of chastity and virginity in their religion. It’s an ideal gift for women who are about to get married as a symbolic transition from singlehood to marital bliss. 

6. Abundance 

With its lush green leaves and numerous healthy spathes, it’s not surprising to have the peace lily plant be associated with abundance and prosperity. Green is a symbol of wealth and money in many cultures, which is why it’s easy to have this association with the plant’s green foliage.  

It can also survive indoors and outdoors and can stay in good shape consistently despite the changing of seasons, which in the real world represents one’s ability to successfully navigate through the difficulties that he may encounter in life.  

7. Longevity 

Peace lily in a basket
Peace lily plant by Teleflora. Check the price here.

As a perennial plant, peace lilies can last for three to five years on average, which is a typical lifespan for an indoor plant. However, with proper care, indoor peace lilies can last for two decades or longer. This is one of the main reasons why the plant has been considered a symbol of longevity. Aside from this, its ability to survive and thrive amid the different seasons is also remarkable, which is a testament to its strong lifeline.

8. Sympathy  

The hints of white from the spathes of a peace lily can also indicate sympathy and compassion. Therefore, the plant is often handed out as a silent message of condolences to people who have lost their loved ones. It can also be used as a gentle tribute or memorial to the one who has passed away. 

9. Rebirth  

Because of its ability to bloom and regrow season after season, the peace lily has become associated with rebirth. It represents the cycle of rebirth and the soul’s transcendence from life on Earth. The plant is especially significant as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the religious leader of the Christian faith. 

Wrapping Up 

The peace lily is a popular choice as a houseplant because it is low maintenance and remains green regardless of the season. It can also help get rid of air pollutants like carbon monoxide and formaldehyde.  

Because of these reasons, plus the plant’s physical appearance, it’s often used to symbolize healing, cleansing, peace, balance, harmony, purity, chastity, abundance, hope, and prosperity. In some cases, it can also stand for rebirth or be used to express sympathy.   

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As she grew up reading books on mystery, mythology, fantasy, and adventure, Olive developed an urge to explore the world as an adult. After completing a degree in Mass Communications, she built a career in marketing for the past two decades but has spent most of her vacations backpacking through different countries. During her trips, Olive likes to immerse herself in the local culture to further expand her understanding of other people and their lifestyles, which she now uses to aid her writing.