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Wed, Jul 14, 2021

The Lifespan of Plants: How Long Plants Live and Whether They Die of Old Age?

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The Lifespan of Plants: How Long Plants Live and Whether They Die of Old Age? Article Preview

Almost every gardener sooner or later wonders how long do houseplants live. Some are convinced that each plant has a certain life span, and often they can die from old age. But this opinion is wrong.

Plants do not have a single general mechanism of aging. Different plants age not only at different rates but also for different reasons. There are also known cases of “ageless plants”. In the course of evolution, transitions from long-lived forms to short-lived ones have repeatedly occurred. Let’s try to figure out, do plants die of old age and what is the lifespan of plants.

Do Plants Have a Lifespan

Oldest Tree

Unfortunately, every plant dies sooner or later. The question is what caused the death. According to researchers at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, plants do not have a specific lifespan. But this does not apply to “annual” plants that live for one growing season, after which they die. This is in their genetics, and no matter how well you look after them, it is impossible to save them from this fate. But with perennials, the situation is much more positive, because their lifespan directly depends not only on their variety but also on the care and growing conditions. In this case, accordingly, it depends only on you how long your plants will live. If you choose the right soil, water it on time, observe the temperature regime, and use fertilizers, then your houseplant will have a much better chance of a long life. Unfortunately, this is not so easy, because different plants require different conditions, and, accordingly, some unpretentious species are initially more likely to survive to old age.

Plants do not have a designated size or age when a plant can be considered “mature” or even “old”. They are usually of indeterminate age. If the plant is in comfortable conditions and receives all the necessary nutrients, then it will be able to grow almost without restrictions. Then why do plants die in that case? The fact is that at some point they grow so large that they are no longer able to support themselves, and water from the roots hardly reaches the branches. For clarity, here’s a human analogy: Imagine that you keep growing as long as you keep eating. Ultimately, you become so big that it is difficult for you to feed yourself.

So, back to the houseplants. To prevent this from happening, it is enough to cut the plants in time. Another feature of plants is their type of tissue called “perpetually embryonic”. These cells are found in the tips and roots of plants. Their peculiarity is that they can turn into cells of a different type at any time. This happens in the process of division, where the number of cells increases many times. Due to this plants can grow indefinitely. For the same reason, you can easily grow a whole plant by planting a leaf or stem in a glass of water.

Do Plants Live Forever

This is not possible, but there are cases where plants have lived for centuries. As an example, the Eastern Cape cycad houseplant, which is over 246 years old! It has been growing from about 1775 to the present day. Its weight at the moment is over a ton and this is truly a unique case. But, unfortunately, this case is the exception rather than the rule.

What Is the Longest Living Plant

Surely now you are wondering what kind of plants can boast of their durability and the ability to outlive their peers. They can not only live quite a long time, but they can also be a wonderful decoration for your garden. For sure, you are familiar with a couple of them, and most likely,  you happened to see them somewhere. But now we will tell you more about them.

Succulents

succulents

Today they can be found almost everywhere. They are common among both outdoor and indoor gardeners. Their main advantage is that they are not difficult to care for. After all, there is nothing wrong with forgetting to water the succulent, since in nature they can do without water for weeks. Although they vary in species, the shortest life span of a succulent is 6 years. Provided that they are in comfortable conditions and well cared for, some can even grow for decades.

Cycads

cycads

These evergreens are similar to a palm tree, only their leaves are tougher. The trunk of cycad is also much thicker than that of a palm tree. You can easily grow such a plant in a room or a garden, the only thing to remember is that it is not worth watering in the cold season, and you should water it about 2-3 times a week on hot days.

An interesting fact, this is one of the longest living plants in history. The average lifespan of trees, when grown naturally, is over 1000 years! Impressive, isn’t it? It may easily become a family heirloom that will be passed down from generation to generation.

Cacti

cactus arizona

It’s no secret that cacti are the most recognizable succulents. There are over 1,750 different species, and most of them are not picky to care for. They can easily tolerate drought for a couple of weeks and need a lot of light.

A cactus, unlike some other plants on this list, will live longer when grown outdoors. In suitable conditions, he can live from 10 to 200 years! But this does not mean at all that you cannot enjoy cacti as indoor plants. For example, you can choose a Christmas cactus, which will be a wonderful decoration for your room and will delight you for the next 20-30 years.

Table Palm

table palm

If you have dreamed of growing a full-fledged palm tree, then this can be a great alternative. You can immerse yourself in this tropical atmosphere at home, in the office, or on the terrace. This evergreen plant grows well in both full and partial shade. Caring for it is quite simple, and even a novice gardener can grow it.

As for the lifespan of Table Palm, it is difficult to answer unequivocally. Since it is part of the Arecaceae family, the palm can live for over 100 years. Compared to most indoor plants, palms have a  predetermined lifespan and can live for 80 years, or all 100 or even more.

ZZ Plant

ZZ Plant

ZZ Plant, or, as it is also called the Zanzibar Gem, referred by some gardeners as “immortal plants”. This is certainly not the case. As we said earlier, absolutely any plant dies sooner or later, and ZZ is no exception. It’s just more durable than others.

Surprisingly, ZZ Plant can live without water for 4 months! The fact is that the petioles of the plant contain 95% water, and the leaves contain 91%. What’s more, it can grow just as well even in low light.

Hoya Plant

Hoya Plant

This plant belongs to the genus Asclepias, which includes over 300 species of tropical plants. In particular, it grows in Thailand, Vietnam, China, and other parts of Asia. Its distinctive feature is the rubber-like leaves.

It’s hard to say exactly how long the Hoya plant can live, but it refers to centenarians. If you want to know if your plant will live long, you can check if it blooms. If you see beautiful pink, white, or purple flowers, then you can rest assured, your Hoya is healthy.

Monstera

Monstera

Monstera is native to southern Mexico but is also found in the Seychelles and parts of Hawaii. It is widely believed that Monstera does not live long and that its lifespan is 5-7 years. This is not entirely true. Of course, if you look after it in the wrong way, then do not expect that it will live long. But if you provide it with comfortable conditions and follow all plant care tips, then it can live for more than 40 years. In any case, we advise you to make sure of this!

How Do Plants Die

There can be many reasons for this. Most often this happens due to improper care, for example, lack of sunlight or carbon dioxide, lack of nutrients, lack or excess of moisture, diseases – this list can go on for quite a long time. It is time to talk about the prerequisites or what happens when plants die? 

Most often, the plant begins to wilt and lose its leaves, its appearance deteriorates significantly. The plant does not bloom and even tends to discolor. As soon as you notice such signs in your favorite indoor plant, do not rush to throw them away, since if you notice this in time, it is not too late to save the plant.

Can Plants Die of Old Age

While a person or an animal survives to old age, their life gradually fades away, and then ends. Is it the same story with plants? As we said in our article, indoor plants die according to different reasons. Their death can come at a very young or even old age. It all depends on how well they were cared for throughout their lives. As a result, the age of the plant does not play a big role in their aging and death.

Even if indoor plants reach mature age or full growth, this does not at all indicate an approaching old age. 

Finally

So, age is not the cause of the death of a plant. As we said earlier, their death can come at a very young or even very old age. The main reason for this is improper care. If you want your plant to live for decades, then initially you should choose any of the above as a houseplant, as they have repeatedly proven their resistance. Second, provide the plant with a comfortable environment. Be sure to water on time and try to avoid prolonged drought or waterlogging. Do not forget about fertilizing with nutrients, this will help the plants stay healthy. And remember, it depends only on you whether your plant will live for several years or several decades.

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