If you’ve ever wondered, “Can a Plant Live Forever” you’re not alone. After all, we know that plants grow and thrive, but the idea of losing them can be hard to wrap our heads around.
Luckily, while they may not live forever, plants can still live long under the right conditions. Some varieties can even outlast generations of human life. That’s right; some plants have been known to thrive in the same location for hundreds of years.
So don’t worry if you’re curious about the lifespan potential of your green friends. We’ve got all the answers: how long plants can live, which species are likely contenders for immortality, and why some greens just won’t quit.
Can Plants Live Forever?
No. While plants can live for a long time, they may eventually die due to disease, drought, pest infestations, or old age. Take trees, for example; while most can live for centuries, trees are not immortal. Factors like climate and soil conditions determine their lifespan. Eventually, they die due to old age or external factors (such as storms).
The same goes for all living organisms; biological and environmental factors limit their life cycles.
So while greens can hang around longer than humans, plants die eventually– whether after a few years, decades, or a thousand years. Researchers from New York Botanical Garden confirmed this.
Monstera Deliciosa Lifespan: How Long Does it Live?
Like most Monsteras, deliciosa (Swiss Cheese Plant) is relatively sturdy. With the right potting mix, adequate nutrients, and sufficient light, this tropical beauty can live up to 20 years or longer.
Monstera deliciosa is easy to care for and perfect for novice gardeners– or those who may not have the greenest thumb.
That said, it’s important to remember that no living thing can live forever. So even if you water it with love and give it just enough light – you may still see signs of aging over time.
What Causes Aging and Death in Plants?
You might not know this, but several factors can lead to the aging and death of a plant. Here are the most common triggers:
Plants are constantly exposed to outside elements, e.g., wind, rain, extreme temperatures, and air pollutants, which cause damage over time.
For example, leaves become fragile after long periods of sunlight and water stress and may dry up or break off. Wind may also lead to broken stems, and extreme winter temperatures can lead to cold shock–and potential death.
2. Attacks from other organisms
In addition, to tear and wear, plants are also vulnerable to attacks from other organisms. Weeds can steal nutrients from the soil. It may also spread diseases and harm the plant’s growth or shorten its lifespan.
Insects like aphids and beetles are also known to feed on plants’ leaves and stems – potentially leading them to premature death if left untreated.
3. Drought and unfavorable conditions
Finally, plants may age or die prematurely due to a lack of essential elements like water or nutrients in the soil.
Plants in drought-prone regions suffer from conditions like wilting leaves, stunted growth, and yellowing foliage. All these can lead to death if not addressed in good time.
What are the Oldest Plants in the World?
Believe it or not, some plants have a very long lifespan or “live forever,” as you may say. According to BBC Earth, one of the earth’s oldest plants is a Great Basin bristlecone pine in the White Mountains of California.
The tree was identified in the 1950s, and samples were stored until 2010 when researchers estimated it to be over 5,000 years old.
But the Great Basin bristlecone pine is not the only tree that can withstand time. Plants that live long have different survival mechanisms. Here are some modes of survival in plants:
Clonal plants, like the famous ‘Jurassic Park’ tree reproduce asexually. They can use their genetic material to produce a new clone of themselves– one genetically identical to the parent plant.
As such, clonal plants don’t need to die off to create new offspring. And they don’t suffer from aging, so they can theoretically live forever.
Non-clonal plants may still be able to live for centuries through vegetative reproduction.
This is when parts of the plant— e.g., branch or root—are removed from the parent plant and propagated elsewhere. The offshoot can become a separate individual with its name. This process is called ‘layering’ and has been used for centuries.
Some of the oldest plants are as old as 4,000 years – proof that non-clonal plants have an equally long life expectancy as clonal plants.
Important Tips to Make Your Indoor Plants Live Longer
Surprisingly, it is possible to help your plants live longer. All you need to do is follow a few tips—and you can keep your plants around for years to come.
1. Consistent Watering
Just like humans, plants need the right amount of water – too much or too little can be damaging. Try to stay consistent when watering – preferably once per week (unless it’s extra hot).
2. Quality Soil
Plants have different soil preferences, and it’s crucial to provide yours with the right potting mix. High-quality soil will help your plants get the essential nutrients – like organic matter and minerals. It also holds onto the right amount of moisture—neither too much nor too little.
For certain plants, a well-draining potting mix is crucial in preventing sogging, which can cause root rot and pest infestations. Be sure to research your plant’s soil needs before bringing it indoors.
3. Plant Choice
Plants thrive best in their natural habitats. To achieve the best result, homeowners must research the plant’s habitat and growth requirements. That way, you can create the right indoor environment and give your plants a longer lifespan.
4. Optimal Light Conditions
Light is key to plant growth and development. Ensure you know how much sun or shade your particular plant species needs. Providing the wrong type of light can lead to burnt leaves or stunted growth.
5. Appropriate Temperature Range
Most plants prefer temperatures around 22°C during the day, but double-check what’s appropriate for your specific species. Some may require cooler temperatures during dormancy periods, while others may flourish in higher temps.
6. Regular Pruning & Maintenance
Watch out for any dead leaves or stems and prune accordingly. Pruning encourages new growth while keeping an attractive form as well.
How Do Immortal Plants Survive Death: Understanding Biological Immortality
Did you know some plants can survive death? It’s possible. These immortals have an almost-unbelievable feature: biological immortality. To understand their incredible ability to outlast death, let’s dive into the science behind it.
Immortal seed plants can go dormant for long periods, and this helps them survive the harshest environments. When conditions are more favorable, they can resume their growth cycle and even reproduce—extending their lifespan dramatically.
Immortal plants’ cells have chemical alterations on their DNA strands. These changes help them avoid aging and mutations that cause cancerous or dying cells– known to shorten the life expectancy for other species.
This unique DNA also enables them to heal and regenerate quickly if outside influences like drought or a fungus infection damage them.
Some immortal species can clone themselves without a mate. This increases the chance of survival and allows them to rapidly spread to new habitats with better food and water sources.
For self-cloning plants, the population distribution is closely monitored to ensure balanced growth in each area. Simply put: these plants are super survivors.
All in all, understanding how immortal plants work could be critical in helping us find solutions for longer lifespans down the line.
What Determines a Plant’s Life?
You may not know this, but plants aren’t equal. A few factors determine how long a plant will live. But it helps to understand the difference before choosing greens for your home.
Annuals (one growing season)
These plants complete their life cycle within one growing season. This means they seed, produce flowers, and die in one year or planting season.
Not all annuals have the same lifespan. For example, Annuals like lettuce and pansies will survive for about six months, while species like petunias live up to 12 months.
Biennials (two planting seasons)
These are plants that can survive up to two planting seasons. It takes them one year to grow, after which they produce flowers, set seeds, and die in the next year. Carrots, parsley, and foxglove are some common biennials you’ll see out there.
Perennial Cycle (live more than 2 seasons)
These are plants that live for more than two seasons and reproduce via seeds or vegetative parts such as tubers or bulbs.
How Long Do Houseplants Live?
Most houseplants can survive between 3-4 years with good care – but they can also live much longer, like 10 -20 years. If you provide your plant with proper light exposure, humidity levels, fertilizer, and water, your houseplant could become a long-term companion in your home.
How Do I Tell If My Plant is Dead?
You might be wondering if there are any tell-tale signs of a plant’s death—the answer is yes. Here are a few common ones:
- The leaves will turn brown or yellow.
- The stem will show signs of decay or wilt.
- You may begin to find pests and insects in the soil or on the plant itself.
- The soil may dry out more quickly and become harder to saturate with water.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s essential to act fast and do your best to revive your plant by adjusting things like light, temperature, moisture, and nutrients.
But if all else fails, you may need to accept that unfortunately, your little friend couldn’t live forever.
Longest Living Indoor Plants to Welcome at Home
Most indoor plants have a predictable lifespan, but some can live for a very long time. These hardy species are perfect for bringing life and color to your living space with minimal maintenance. Let’s discuss some of the longest-living houseplants.
1. ZZ Plant Lifespan
The ZZ is a slow-growing plant—it takes its sweet time maturing and requires very little supervision. With just enough care, this super tough houseplant can last up to a decade in your home.
It’s hardy, hence perfect for beginners who may not be as hands-on with gardening, as well as ardent plant lovers. Add to that its air purifying qualities, and you’ve got yourself a great companion. Plus, its unique stature and style presents a conversation piece that will fit with any décor.
2. Snake Plant
Boasting one of the longest lifespans, this elegant green typically survives for over two decades – even up to 30 years. Furthermore, it’s practically indestructible – requiring minimal water, sun exposure, and care.
In addition to its long life span, the snake plant also provides several other benefits, including:
- Lower indoor air pollution levels through photosynthesis
- Improved oxygen levels
- Improved mental health
- Potential relief from seasonal allergies due to its inbuilt air-filtering capabilities
Finally, it has a stunning form and excellent adaptability in different environments.
3. Monstera Plants
You may not realize it, but Monstera plants are some of the longest-living houseplants out there. These brightly-colored, leafy greens can survive for up to 20 years in the right conditions.
Monsteras live longer than most other vines for three reasons.
- First, they are resistant to disease/pests, and will likely survive such attacks and journey on.
- Monsteras also grow slowly yet steadily, which is perfect for those after a longer-lasting houseplant.
- Lastly, most Monstera species are resilient and low-maintenance.
These tropical vines need moderate watering to survive. They prefer indirect sunlight and a little fertilizer now and then– that’s it.
And their long life span isn’t just limited to indoors either. You can easily move these outside and have them around for years.
4. Rubber Plant
The Rubber plant is next on our list living up to an impressive 30 years. These plants are super durable and can thrive in moderate sunlight, hence perfect for those with limited natural light. Plus, Rubber plants are relatively low maintenance. All they need is occasional watering, pruning, and some dusting.
Overall, the rubber fig is hardy and grows slowly. Generally, 30 years is a pretty long time. You don’t have to worry about it outgrowing its pot or dying prematurely.
5. Succulents and Cacti
Succulents, like cacti and aloe vera, are easy additions to any living space—and they can last for decades.
So how long do succulents or cacti live? Well, that depends on the species. Generally, smaller indoor varieties can live up to 10 years, while giant mature cacti (growing outdoors) can survive over 100 years.
And why do succulents and cacti live for a very long time?
- These plants conserve moisture in their thick succulent leaves and survive in the driest conditions.
- Their spines also act as a natural defense against predators.
Due to their adaptations, succulents require minimal care and attention from you. All you need to do is give it enough sunlight and water once a week – and watch them thrive. Succulents like the Christmas cactus have unique shapes and colors that add dimensions to indoor spaces.
6. Wax Plant
Wax plants also last longer than most plants. It can live anywhere from a few years, all the way to 25. Wax plants are also known for their glossy leaves, fragrant white flowers, and air-purifying capabilities
Not only does this plant last for eons but it’s considered minimalist and easy-care. Lightly water it once weekly and provide adequate sunshine to keep it happy. Wax plants love warm conditions, so keep your little buddy between 65°F and 75°F (18°C- 24°C). Anything lower than that and it won’t be as healthy as it could be.
7. Air Plant (Tillandsia)
You may be familiar with air plants (Tillandsia), but did you know they can live up to 6 years? These remarkable plants don’t require soil to cultivate and are perfect for the busy homeowner.
So how do air plants manage to live so long?
- Their thin leaves have reduced surface area for water loss and can survive in the most extreme environments without frequent watering.
- They have a unique way of collecting nutrients—instead of relying on soil, they absorb moisture and dust from the air using specialized scales on their leaves (i.e., trichomes).
- Additionally, air plants can survive long periods without light or water, making them one of the longest-living houseplants.
Cultivating air plants is simple. All they need is occasional misting every 3-4 weeks. Also, be sure to place the plant in an area with plenty of airflow and bright indirect sunlight.
8. Spider Plants
These little narrow-leaved plants can serve as indoor greenery for years. These hardy little plants can live anywhere from 5 to 10 years indoors, turning any space into a lush paradise. Some can last up to 50 years.
So why do spider plants have such long lifespans?
- They can survive in temperatures from 40-95 degrees Fahrenheit
- Easily adjust to varying levels of humidity
- Can tolerate low light conditions fairly well
These plants require minimal attention – just remember to keep their soil moist with occasional watering and provide them with indirect sunlight. This makes them ideal for city dwellers or those who often move from place to place.
Plus, they don’t require repotting every year either – just replace your old pot with a larger container every 3 to 4 years.
9. Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
These trees can live up to 200 years with proper care. They’re native to South America and grow up to 50 feet tall with large leaves that resemble those of a money tree.
So how does this plant manage a long life?
- Well, it’s first secret is dormancy. The weeping fig’s leaves turn red in the fall before dropping off the tree as they prepare for winter dormancy.
- Furthermore, weeping figs grow slowly– but they produce large clusters of fragrant yellow flowers in spring.
Weeping figs are easy to grow indoors because they don’t require much light or water. Just keep them away from direct sunlight so they don’t burn easily.
Cycads are a group of plants that are related to palms and ferns. They can be found in South America, Southern Africa and Australia. They have long lives, with some species reaching 200 to 1, 000 years old. Here are some of their survival mechanisms:
- Cycads have an unusual structure because they have an outer layer that is made up of large plates that fold up against each other like an accordion. These plates support the inner growth of the plant, which is where all its food comes from.
- Cycads also have very little water loss through their leaves because they don’t need them to photosynthesize or grow food for themselves.
- Plus, they have sturdy woody stems that protect them from wind and rain, which helps them survive in deserts or other arid environments.
The oldest known cycad is a species called Ginkgo biloba, which dates back to the Triassic Period. Cycads are also known as cycadeoids and gymnosperms.
11. English Ivy
The English ivy is yet another live-forever plant that can survive up to 100 years. It’s also known as English hawthorn, English laurel or Ivy-leafed holly.
The English Ivy has adapted to survive in many different environments.
- It can live outdoors in areas between 65 F and 80 F (18 C – 27 C).
- Ivies can tolerate even lower temperatures if you protect it from frost.
- The English Ivy is tolerant of most soil types, but it prefers rich, organic soils rich in organic matter such as compost or manure.
- It also grows best when kept moist but not wet. Remember to drain out soil during the winter months when they are dormant.
So there you have it. Whether you’re looking for something with bright colors or something more natural-looking – plenty of long-lasting plants will fit your needs. Go ahead and get one today—it may just be around longer than you think.
How do plants die?
In general, most plants die either due to environmental stressors like too much heat or cold or from diseases like root rot or fungus. They can also just die from old age if they don’t get enough care. Always take prompt action if you suspect any issues with your plant to help it survive longer.
Which type of plant lives the longest?
The longest living plant is Cycads. These resilient plant can last up to 1000 years. Meanwhile, succulents are known to survive under adverse conditions – and can last up to 100 years with proper care and attention.
How long does it take plants to grow?
The growth rate of a given species depends heavily on its environment and the amount of time & effort you put into caring for your plant. For example, a philodendron can take anywhere between 1-2 months, depending on these factors, while other types may take up to 2-3 years before they reach full maturity.
How long do philodendrons live?
Philodendrons are a group of plant families that consist of some 300 to 400 species of woody vines and epiphytes native to Southeast Asia, Australia, Africa, and the Americas. With proper care, philodendrons can live anywhere from 10-15 years. Some last even longer, depending on the environment.
While science may not have answered the age-old question—can a plant live forever?—it has shown us that we can keep our plants around much longer.
With the right conditions and care, your home can enjoy bright and lively greenery for years to come. So, don’t hold back— get creative and get started with gardening.