How Long Do Houseplants Live? Everything You Need to Know

Do you ever find yourself looking at your Philodendron or your Peace Lily and thinking: how long do I really have you for? This raises the bigger question: how long do houseplants live?

The average lifespan of a houseplant is 2-5 years. However, there’s no definitive life expectancy. This is because its longevity depends on a variety of factors, including proper watering, correct lighting, appropriate pot size, the right humidity, and pest control. 

In this article, we’ll discuss houseplant life expectancy, maintenance, and more. Let’s get into it!

What Factors Affect a Houseplant’s Lifespan?

There’s no specific life expectancy for plants. There are, however, many factors that contribute to their health and longevity.

Let’s take a close look at the three main factors that can influence a houseplant’s lifespan:

  • Growing conditions: Just because your plant is indoors doesn’t need adjustment in light, temperature, and humidity. Without these three elements, the houseplant will not be able to produce energy or food.
  • Maintenance: When it comes to houseplants, their longevity is mostly determined by the care they get. Correct watering, appropriate pot size, frequent sanitation, and fertilization are all examples of proper maintenance of indoor plants.
  • Species: Let’s not forget that all species differ from each other. For instance, species such as Pothos, Snake Plants, and Air Plants tend to live longer. In contrast, plants like  Arabidopsis have a shorter lifespan, and there isn’t much to do about it.

3 Reasons Why Houseplants Die (and How to Avoid Them)

A houseplant can die for a variety of reasons, many of which are linked to upkeep and care. Here are the three most common causes of indoor plant death:

1.   Overwatering

We get it. You love your plant, and you want it to thrive. Part of that love is worrying whether you’re watering too much or not watering enough. This, unfortunately, results in a dying plant.

Overwatering Houseplants

Overwatering can lead to a number of issues, including:

  • Mushy or yellow leaves
  • Wilted leaves
  • Fungus gnats
  • Root rot
  • Falling leaves
  • Brown leaves
  • No growth
  • Mushrooms

How to Avoid Overwatering

Every houseplant environment is different, which means that the rate at which the potting soil dries out varies from one plant to the other. This is due to the fact that the soil is affected by lighting, humidity, and temperature.

So, just because your fellow plant-loving friend can get away with watering their houseplant once a week doesn’t necessarily mean this method will work for you. Plus, each species is distinct and will need a different quantity of watering.

However, the following tips are applicable to the majority of indoor plant varieties.

1.     Perform the Soil Finger Test

The soil finger test is the simplest method for determining whether your plant is thirsty. This technique has been around for quite some time, and you have probably heard about it before. All you have to do is simply insert your finger into the soil approximately an inch deep.

If the soil is damp or moist, your plant doesn’t need water. If the soil is dry, try to stick your finger further into it to confirm that it’s time to water your plant with a can of suitable size.

It’s worth noting, however, that relying solely on the finger soil test may not be successful with certain plant species. Some species, such as Hoya plants, require a different approach.

Read more: 7 Houseplants That Start With S

2.     Use a Pot with Drainage Holes

Another easy method to avoid overwatering is to use a pot with drainage holes. We can’t stress how important this is. Using a pot with drainage holes ensures there’s no excess water in the root area.

If you water your plant in a pot with no drainage holes and accidentally pour too much water, the extra fluid will have nowhere to go. Instead, it will linger in the plant’s root system, causing root rot.

2.   Improper Lighting

The amount of light a houseplant receives is a crucial element in maintaining its health, but it’s not always easy to tell that there’s an issue until it’s too late.

So, here are some signs of light stress in indoor plants to watch out for.

  • Leggy stems
  • Yellow-ish leaves
  • Falling leaves
  • Slow or no growth
  • Dry soil

How to Pick the Right Lighting

Lighting for house plants

Determining what kind of light your houseplant requires mainly depends on its species. Some indoor plants, such as Crotons, enjoy direct sunlight. Other species, such as Calatheas, flourish in indirect and low-light environments.

If you’re unsure which area in your home is best for your plant, take a look at this guide below.

  • North-facing window: Receives small amounts of natural light. Ideal for low-light plants.
  • South-facing window: Receives a lot of indirect natural light. Ideal for bright-light plants.
  • East-facing window: Receives little sunlight and occasionally bright, indirect light. Ideal for low to medium-light plants.
  • West-facing window: Receives direct sunlight. Ideal for most indoor plants.

3.   Wrong Pot Size

Another issue that some people are unaware of is that repotting your plant in the improper pot size might kill it.

For example, if you place your houseplant in an overly large container, the soil will dry slowly and remain damp. Excess water, as previously said, can cause root rot. Plus, the plant will be unable to absorb the nutrients from the soil.

On the other hand, if you use a tiny container, the soil will dry up much faster, and your plant will become root-bound. Moreover, if your houseplant grows too large for its container, it may topple over.

How to Pick the Right Pot Size

It’s really simple; buy a pot that’s at least one inch larger than the diameter of your plant’s root mass.

However, if you anticipate rapid growth, choose a container that’s three to four inches wider.

Someone using pots with drainage holes

Can a Plant Live Forever?

A plant that is given everything it needs to survive and has the capacity to grow continuously may live for years, even decades. However, every plant is bound to die one day.

In Japan, for example, Bonsai trees have been estimated to live up to 800 years with adequate care.

There’s even the prickly cycad on display in the Palm House at the Royal Botanical Gardens. This cycad has been recognized as the oldest potted plant in the world by the Guinness Book of Records.

However, you probably want something a bit more compact for your house!

Overall, given the appropriate conditions, it’s possible for a plant to survive for centuries. This, of course, excludes annuals, which are plants that exist for only one season.

Reader Also Checked: 7 Houseplants That Like Moist Soil

Can a Houseplant Die of Old Age?

The simple answer is yes. Even if a plant has everything it requires, it’s still bound to die one day. Yet, it can still be quite hard to label a plant as mature or old.

After all, plants could age as a result of a number of events that occur over the course of their life. Generally, we can classify the life cycle of a plant into six stages:

  1. Germination
  2. Seed production
  3. Development
  4. Blooming and fruiting
  5. Senescence
  6. Death

During the senescence stage of a plant, it gradually loses its capacity to regenerate cells and tissues until it dies.

The Takeaway

Almost everything has a life expectancy; your possessions, your pets, even you!

When it comes to houseplants, this isn’t always the case, which begs the question: how long do houseplants live?

A houseplant has an average lifetime of 2-5 years. However, the life expectancy is determined by the amount of care it receives and how long this species can last.

If you look after your potted plant, it can survive for years, if not decades. If you don’t, it most likely won’t last a month before it withers and dies.