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Many living things that we know of have a fixed lifespan – humans live to about 80 years, dogs about 15 years, and the interesting mayfly lives for 24 hours. However, have you ever wondered how long your houseplant is going to live for?
Before we jump into discussion, first you should know that plants can be classified into 3 categories: annual, biennials, and perennials. Annual plants are those that perform their lifecycle (from seed to flower to seed) within a year, and biennial plants are those that perform their lifecycle in two years. Many food plants, such as grains, corn, lettuce, carrots, are grown as annuals or biennials. Perennials are plants that persist for many growing seasons, and do not have a fixed life cycle. Most houseplants are perennial plants, as it is easy to see why most people prefer their houseplants to not die after one year.
Theoretically, perennial houseplants can live forever, under perfect conditions. This assumes that the plant is perpetually given just enough sunlight and water, with unlimited space to grow and optimum soil nutrition. However, conditions are rarely perfect in real life- even nature has its occasional droughts and floods. Houseplants that are considered ‘hardier’ and can withstand a wider range of environmental conditions, such as Snake Plants or Money Plants, have a higher chance to live to a long age.
It is to note that ‘live forever’ does not mean grow in size endlessly. There will be a point where the plant will grow so large that it can no longer support its own weight, and water from its roots cannot reach all the way to its leaves. This is where the plant will need to be trimmed (i.e. cut off excess branches) or else any new branch that grows will die off naturally.
(Photo credits: Unsplash)
Houseplants can also live forever, in a sense that they can pass on their genetic lineage indefinitely. Houseplants differ from humans and animals by their special ‘meristematic tissue’ found in plant cells. Meristematic cells are located in the roots and tips of plants. These cells can remain forever young and can divide actively throughout the life of the plant. This is what allows plants to propagate – you can cut off a stem of a plant and transfer it to another soil and it will grow into a full-fledged plant again.
In summary, houseplants can live forever – or at least for a very, very long time. The oldest known indoor plant is 245 years old, located in the Kew Gardens of London. Ready to see how long your own houseplant can grow? Shop here for our collection of houseplants at Greenspace.