Having plants die, because of any reason whatever, can be really upsetting and can leave you wondering if you should hang up your gardening gloves altogether! Can plants die of old age, despite how much care and attention you give them? Let’s look into this in more detail.
What You'll Learn Today
Can Plants Die Of Old Age?
As with everything in life, plants do tend to have a limited lifespan – and yes, they can die of old age.
All different plants have different life spans, but the majority will live to their pensioner years, as long as they have the right conditions to keep them happy.
Plants, like people, do have a shelf life, and when this is reached there is very little you can do to save them.
Some plants only live for a few months, others go on for years, and some can even live for thousands of years!
Your houseplants are very unlikely to go on for more than a few years, unless you have an ancient bonsai tree, or a slow growing plant that is long-lived.
How Many Years Do Plants Live?
This is completely based on the individual plant, and would take an age to answer if we were to list the ages of each and every different plant!
Some plants’ natural life cycle is just a few months. Some take two years to germinate, flower, reproduce and die, while others go on for years and years.
- Annual plants will sprout and flower, reproduce and die, in the space of a single year and will need replanting the following year.
- Biennial plants follow this process, but they take two years to do so instead of just one.
- Perennial plants are the longest lived and can go on for many years, repeating their life cycle every year – although they tend to lose leaves in the winter.
There is no getting around nature; you cannot make an annual plant go on for many years as it is just not designed to do so.
Keeping your plants alive for as long as possible means doing everything you can to make sure they have the right conditions.
If you want to have a plant that goes on for years and becomes a family heirloom, you will need to look into some sort of perennial species.
This little article tells you about the different types of plant in a little more detail.
What Happens When A Plant Gets Old?
Assuming you have a perennial plant that is generally expected to live for a long time, you may not know what to look for when it is getting past its best.
As with people, when a plant gets old its cells stop dividing and start to deteriorate. This causes the plant to look sick, and it will eventually die.
Many plants don’t actually live to their fullest potential, because their favorite conditions are not met or they become infested with pests or disease.
However, if you manage to keep yours going enough that it lives to a ripe old age, then good for you!
Just keep an eye out for the signs such as less healthy growth, the plant not flowering or growing new foliage, and growth slowing down or stopping.
Don’t despair, however! Your beloved plant can live on and still be useful – place it lovingly in the compost, and it can help to provide nutrients for the rest of your indoor rainforest.
Do Plants Feel Pain?
This is a very interesting concept. Do you have to feel guilty every time you prune your Prunus? Does your Hosta hate a haircut?
Well, it turns out that plants cannot feel pain, as far as we know. They have no nervous systems, so no pain can be felt.
However, it is well documented that plants do respond positively to, well, positivity. Talking to your plants with love can actually help them to thrive!
Although making the odd snip on your favorite plant will not actually hurt or upset it, there are things you can do to make your plants happier.
It has been proven that talking to your plants in a loving way can help them to grow better (no one knows if this is just because of the extra CO2 they receive from your breath, but we’re going with showing them love helps them to grow!)
Tell them you love them, even when you are snipping off that extra bit of growth, and let them know that a new pot will help them immensely!
This interesting video answers this question, along with some others, that you might be wondering about:
What Is The Oldest Plant?
The oldest plants are generally the biggest – little annuals and perennials don’t live for as long as trees, for example!
Some of the oldest trees have lived for thousands of years – they are perfectly adapted to getting water and nutrients, and tend to outlast smaller plants.
The oldest known trees are Great Basin Bristlecone Pine Trees – these are found in California and Nevada.
The oldest tree currently living is at least 4,800 years old, and is appropriately named Methusela.
There are a lot of other trees that can live for an extraordinarily long time; the trees on the following list can all reach over 2,000 years old:
- Coast Redwood
- Giant Sequoia
- Sacred Fig
- Foxtail Pine
- African Baobab
- Bald Cypress
Although some houseplants can go on for years – and in some cases be passed down as heirlooms – they are generally short lived compared to their wild relatives.
If you want a plant that will outlive you, go for one of these amazingly long lived trees – but you may have to bonsai them to fit them in your house!
It can be heartbreaking, when you have a beautiful old plant that you have cultivated from its propagating, to watch it die.
But, as you now know, this can be a part of the plant’s natural life cycle, and although it is sad – hopefully you have taken a cutting so you can keep the spirit of your original plant going for the rest of time!