Spathiphyllum species

Flower of Spathiphyllum species

Sometimes called the peace lily, Spathiphyllum belong to the broad plant family known as the Araceae, the members of which are sometimes known as aroids. Many of these plants come from tropical climates and were traditionally used as houseplants. However, in Sydney we can grow many of them outdoors as permanent plantings, or in pots. On the whole, they are best suited to shadier parts of the garden, with sufficient moisture: many can actually grow well in ponds. They can introduce an element of bold contrast with their distinctive leaves and dramatic sculptural flowers, and mix in well with other warm-climate plants that grow well in our climate, creating the ambience of a tropical rain forest.

Ageing spathe of Spathiphyllum species

Growing to a height of 30 cm, Spathiphyllum has lovely white spathes (turning green with age) almost all year round, which are very pretty in a shaded garden bed with silvery-leaved plants - I find it easier to grow than the similar-looking Anthurium, which are probably at the edge of their comfort zone in some Sydney suburbs. One of the commonest cultivars is 'Mauna Loa', although often they are sold without an identifying name. There is a giant form of Spathiphyllum, called 'Sensation' (height to 1.5 m), which is very effective.

Flowers in January, February, March, December.