How long do houseplants live? The simple answer to this question is ‘about 2 or 3 years,’ as this is how long many homeowners will keep their houseplant alive. But, as you can imagine, the answer depends on a myriad of factors including the plant's species, care, and environment.
If I went down to my local plant supplier to ask this question, they’d likely tell me 8 weeks, because that’s what they can guarantee. This means they face no liability when the plants die early, and they keep people coming back to buy more.
However, if you were to leave that same plant with me, it could be growing strong 20-30 years later! A big difference. Read on to find out which plants can expect to live into old age, and what to do to increase the longevity of yours.
Buying and Caring for Your Houseplants
When you purchase a houseplant, you’ll often find a handy little piece of paper that comes with it, a brief care guide telling you how much light it needs and how often to water it. Ignore this.
As mentioned before, it is not in the best interest of someone selling plants to have houseplants live a long time.
This is not true of all plant sellers, and if you go down to your local nursery and have a long and involved conversation with a smiling character who has dirt in their nails and fertilizer in their hand, odds are you can trust their information. But the average retailer will just parrot the information given to get the plant to survive the next few weeks.
This is essentially making what could be a vibrant and long-lived organic addition to your home into just a pretty ornament that will sit on a table for a couple of months. It’s bad for the plant, the environment, and your wallet. So don’t let it happen.
Instead, consult expert resources on good care for your plant. The internet is full of websites with plant advice (like this one you’re on right now), and a wealth of information is easily accessible on almost any houseplant you care to mention.
This is a great place to start, and you will quickly learn more as you begin to keep more plants. With care and practice, you can easily start to have some plants grace your home for decades rather than weeks.
What is the Biggest Houseplant Killer?
So, let’s learn about what not to do. What’s the biggest houseplant killer? The surprising answer is overwatering. Yes, people often give too much care to their little green friends, leading to their demise.
The opposite problem is the second biggest killer, underwatering. And that’s down to those folks who buy a houseplant and then immediately forget it exists.
Don’t become either of these houseplant owners. Don’t pick up and water your plant every time you think of it. You may think it doesn’t matter as the plant can just pick up what it wants to use, but this is not how it works.
The plant has no way to remove this excess moisture from the soil, and left sitting in this soggy puddle can cause some issues. It attracts pests, encourages root rot, and can prevent the plant from taking up nutrients in the soil.
Research the proper frequency and amount of water your plant needs and follow that guide well. This is the biggest step you can take to ensure your plant lives longer.
Also, check that the pot your plant came in allows for proper draining. Sometimes you will be sold a plant with a poor-quality pot that doesn't contain drainage holes.
If this is the case, repot the plant as soon as you can, so that it doesn’t become waterlogged every time you water it.
Another advantage to repotting is that you can provide the correct soil for the plant too. You can purchase different soils with different textures and nutrients to suit different houseplants.
Find out which one is best for your plant and buy that one to repot it.
After watering, the next most important factor to take care of is proper light conditions. Many plant owners do not allow their houseplants to receive enough sunlight and this can dramatically reduce their lifespan.
In some climates, plants can also be exposed to too much direct light. Read up on how to best position houseplants in your home to get them the best light.
Another good idea is to check plants regularly for signs of pests and disease. Preventing pests and disease, and treating it quickly if it does develop, is another way to keep your plants living longer.
Many other factors can help your plant live a long and happy life, and many are very specific to that species. That’s why it is always a good idea to identify and research your new plant and learn exactly the right care regime.
What Species of Houseplants Naturally Live Longer?
Of course, some species of plants will have a natural lifespan far lower than others. But, as you probably know from seeing flowers, trees, and shrubs outside your home, a lot of them can live a very long time.
Some flowering plants are annuals. This means they flower once and then die naturally afterward as part of their life cycle. No amount of good care will prevent this from happening.
On the other hand, there are many trees that can live hundreds of years, but we don't generally keep those as houseplants for obvious reasons. So, what common houseplants live the longest?
These spiky green favorites are top of the list of long-lived plants. They are easy to care for and make a great starter plant. With the right care, they can live up to 50 years!
This plant is becoming more and more popular by the year and its rounded, Swiss-cheese leaves are a lovely addition to any home. This tropical plant can thrive easily indoors and can grace your home for over 40 years.
These are another popular favorite. They are very tolerant of the conditions often found indoors and this makes them a great plant to care for and can live up to a decade.
In the wild, these can grow over 100 feet tall, but you can shape them into a small bush to display in your home. What’s more, they also live up to 100 years!
Succulents and Cacti
These desert plants are used to rough conditions and can outlive many others with lifespans of hundreds of years. Their low needs make them excellent, easy-care houseplants too.
How Long Do Houseplants Live – Conclusion
So, now you have a choice of a few houseplants you can grow into old age with, and all the knowledge you need to get it there.
Next time you get a houseplant, throw away the instructions, find an expert guide and keep that greenery going for years to come!