The single leaf (Spathiphyllum wallisii) of the arum family (Araceae) originates from the tropical regions of South America, mainly Colombia and Venezuela, where it grows in the shade of large trees. To the genus Einblatt, whose representatives are also known as leaf flags, vaginal leaves or peace lilies, there are about 50 other species – but Spathiphyllum wallisii is by far the most frequently cultivated species next to the rich flowering leaf flag (Spathiphyllum floribundum). The single leaf is not only appreciated for its attractive appearance, it also improves the indoor climate because its leaves filter formaldehyde from the air. But beware: Like all arum plants, the single leaf is poisonous.
There are Maxi, Midi and Miniforms of the horstig growing single leaf in the trade: Depending on the variety it becomes between 30 and 80 centimeters high. Spathiphyllum is very persistent overall and beautifies the house as a houseplant over years.
The leaves of the single leaf are glossy and dark green. They grow up to 25 centimeters long and sit on long stems. Its shape is elliptical to elongated, the middle rib is triangular. The foliage has a high ornamental value in itself, but at flowering time it forms a particularly beautiful contrast to the creamy white flowers.
The flowering period lasts from June to September – but it is not uncommon for the single leaf to flower indoors throughout the winter. The yellowish cobs, typical for arum plants, form the actual flowers of the single leaf. The fact that they still look so pretty is due to the eye-catching white or green-white bracts that nestle around the butt: they turn Spathiphyllum into a real feast for the eyes. Depending on the time of day, a sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker vanilla-like scent can be perceived, which the flowers secrete.
The single leaf is one of the few indoor plants that tolerates shade and also thrives in dark corners: its location should be humid and semi-shady to shady and in any case without direct sunlight. If it is too sunny, leaf burns or unattractive discoloured leaf margins can quickly develop. In addition, the formation of flowers often does not take place. As an indoor plant, the single leaf also prefers rooms with a temperature of 18 to 25 degrees Celsius. In winter it must not be cooler than 16 degrees Celsius. However, increased humidity is an advantage all year round. So many people cultivate the single leaf in the bathroom as well, or secure it a place in a north-facing window.
Commercially available potting soil with a high humus content is sufficient as substrate for the single leaf. For better aeration of the root area, some clay granulate, sand or expanded clay can also be mixed in. In this way, the irrigation water also flows off better. Tip: Spathiphyllum thrives excellently in hydroponics.
The substrate of Spathiphyllum should always be slightly moist and the root ball should never dry out completely – not even during the resting period, which lasts from October to January, but is sometimes omitted from the house. Use tap water that is as warm as possible and ideally low in lime. The earth is poured regularly, but sparingly. In case of very dry indoor air or high temperatures in summer it is advisable to spray the plant from time to time.
During the flowering period, supply the single leaf weekly with low-dose liquid fertilizer for flowering plants. In winter, economical fertilizer application every three weeks is sufficient. Attention: Spathiphyllum overfertilization quickly manifests itself in brown leaf tips. The rule is: less is more!
The single leaf should be re-potted every one to two years – then the substrate is leached out and the roots usually do not find enough space. Spathiphyllum reacts to prolonged lack of space with fading leaves or with brown and dry leaf tips. The best time to repot is from spring to early summer. Make sure that the new pot, which may be a few numbers larger, is high enough so that the tips of the overhanging leaves do not rest on the ground (and turn brown again).
The single leaf does not need a cut in the actual sense, but wilted leaves and flowers can and should be removed regularly. Place the scissors completely at the base of the stems.
At suitable locations, the single leaf proves to be a frugal and very easy-care houseplant: it is therefore regarded as a perfect “entry-level plant” and causes hardly any problems even for plant lovers without green thumbs.
The varieties of the single leaf differ from the species both in the height of their growth and in the colour and shape of their leaves. Spathiphyllum wallisii ‘Gemini’, for example, is a variety with variegated leaves. Pearl Cupido’ and ‘Cupido Opal’ have rich, dark green and rather lanceolate leaves. Chopin’ remains more compact and compact during growth – ideal when space is at a premium. Sweet Paco’ exudes a particularly sweet and very sweet vanilla scent. Manua Loa’ is a single leaf variety with extra large flowers and is therefore the right choice for lovers of indoor flowering plants.
If you want to multiply the single leaf, it is best to divide the plant in the course of repotting. Expose the roots of the single leaf and carefully cut with a sharp and clean knife pieces of two to three leaves each. These parts are immediately replanted and develop their own roots within a few weeks at a constant room temperature of 20 degrees Celsius.
Diseases and pests
Occasionally it can come to an infestation with wool and aphids. Especially in winter you should check the single leaf regularly – this is the only way to prevent the pests from causing more damage and/or spreading to other plants in the house. Spathiphyllum usually has no problems with plant diseases.
In an interview with our store editor Dieke van Dieken, plant doctor René Wadas reveals his tips against aphids.Credits: Production: Folkert Siemens; Camera and Editing: Fabian Primsch
Einblatt at the our store-Shop
I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.