How Long Do House Plants Live? What’s Their Average Lifespan?

Before purchasing an indoor houseplant for your garden, it's important to understand how long of a commitment you are making. Not all houseplants have the same lifespans, so it's best to understand how long you'll be caring for your plant if they are well taken care of. In this article, amateur gardener Jason White examines the average lifespan of a houseplant, and how to extend their life.

Thriving Indoor Plants

Indoor plants are one of the best things you can have inside your home. They brighten up the space, clean the air, and make you feel happier. There is a vast range of indoor plant options, from extremely easy to take care of to plant experts only.

There is no simple answer to the question of how long do house plants live. It depends on several different factors. Although many suggest the average lifetime of an indoor plant is between 2-5 years, most die much sooner because of improper care.

In theory, house plants can live forever with proper care and the ability to keep growing. Some plants live decades or centuries depending on how they are cared for. Houseplants do not die because they are old but because of external factors and needs not being adequately met.

In this article, you will be walked through everything you need to know on how to keep your house plants living long lives and how to make them happy and healthy for years to come!

How Long Do Indoor Plants Live?

Pothos Plant Near Window
Depending on the type of houseplant, indoor plants can live 2-5 years or more.

On average, indoor plants should live a minimum of two to five years. But this is very dependent on the type of houseplant you own, as well as how committed you are to their care. It’s not uncommon for some indoor plant types to live upwards of 20 years!

Indoor plants that die early usually die due to a few common problems. Let’s look at why a plant might die young and how you can extend your plant’s lifespan by avoiding these common mistakes.

Underwatering: When an indoor plant doesn’t get enough water, it wilts up and can die quickly if not addressed. This is typically the number one cause of death for newer plant owners.

Overwatering: Overwatering can also be a problem, especially for plants that may not require as much moisture. To prevent overwatering, stick to a regular schedule, and follow some of the tips we discuss in a little more detail below.

Too Much Sun: When an indoor plant is placed in a windowsill that has high amounts of indirect sunlight, it can spell disaster for plants that only need a few hours a day to thrive. Make sure you understand the type of plant you own, and what their sunlight needs are.

Not Enough Sun: Similar to getting too much sun, some plants aren’t getting enough light. This is especially true for plants that are kept in dark rooms for longer periods. Make sure you are giving your plant enough sunlight to achieve photosynthesis and stay healthy.

Wrong Soil: The wrong type of soil can also cause a plant to die prematurely. Some plants prefer well-draining soil, and others prefer soil that stays moist. This will be completely dependent on plant type.

Over-fertilizing: If your indoor plant gets too much fertilizer, it’s possible that it will get burned. This means you’ll notice the leaves getting crisp and brittle. Make sure you know exactly how much fertilizer to use if you plant to fertilize your plant.

Why Should You Have Indoor Plants?

Several Plants in Pots Indoors
Indoor plants can have a variety of different benefits.

There are hundreds of reasons why you should keep indoor plants. They look fantastic, brighten up a space, and add some color and life to any area.

Easy to Take Care of

Indoor plants are typically easy to take care of and require very little maintenance. Many plants require nothing except refilling their water. Some indoor plants, however, require a lot of care and are not easy to keep alive. This is why it is imperative to spend time researching the needs of each of your houseplants before you buy them, and you will learn more about this in this article.

Boost Your Mood

Having plants around your home and office has been proven to increase productivity, improve your mood, reduce stress, and increase concentration by up to 15%. They have also been shown to suppress your autonomic nervous system.

This is responsible for your heart rate, body temperature, emotional responses, blood pressure levels, digestion, metabolism rates, and so much more. Having plants around can help you regulate all of these and remain in good health.

Provide You With Food

Having the opportunity to create herb and vegetable gardens inside your home allows you to grow your foods all year round. This gives you access to delicious, organic foods that you grew yourself, even if you do not have a yard or it is not a typical growing season outside.

Clean Your Air

House plants can do an impressive number on the air quality in your home. They can remove up to 87% of toxins in the air and water within only 24 hours of entering your home. This is a vast improvement and can help you breathe cleaner, healthier air all year round.

One thing to keep in mind when choosing where to place your plants is when they release their oxygen and carbon dioxide. Most plants release oxygen during the day when they go through photosynthesis, then switch and release carbon dioxide at night.

Some plants, however, work the opposite. Plants like orchids, snake plants, bromeliads, succulents, and more release oxygen at night time, cleaning your air throughout the night and allowing you to get better rest.

What Do Your Indoor Plants Require?

Gardener Potting Plants on Bench
With a little love and care, your indoor plants can live long, healthy lives.

Each plant you purchase will have a different set of needs based on its hardiness and the climate from which it originated. Some will require a lot of things, while others need barely any attention at all. Here are the main things you need to know to ensure your indoor plants live long, healthy lives.

Potting

You will first need to pick a plant and pot it accordingly. Choosing the right soil and a big enough pot is the first thing you need to do when getting a plant. Choose cactus soil for cacti and succulents, and choose typical potting soil for regular houseplants. Make sure you pot your plant in a pot that has holes at the bottom so it can drain completely and not rot.

Light

Next, you will need to figure out how much light your plant requires and find the best place in your house for it. If it needs constant, direct sunlight, then put it by an east-facing window. If it is a low-light plant, put it in a darker corner or an area that only experiences indirect light.

As the seasons change, you may need to move your plants around to keep them happy or invest in an indoor plant light. It is crucial to let your plants get some dark, resting hours, though, for proper growth and health. Again, each plant is different, so Google what you have and decide if it is suitable for your light levels.

Watering

Plants like cacti and succulents require minimal watering to thrive, while some plants, like bamboo, can live entirely in water. If you tend to forget about your plants, go for something that needs very little water to survive. If you have been known to overwater your plants, then get hardy ones that can survive wet soils.

Repotting

If your plant starts to outgrow its pot, you will need to re-pot it. You can tell that it is time to re-pot a plant when its roots are coming out of the bottom of the pot and poking through the drainage holes. To re-pot your plant, you simply place it in a larger pot and fill the rest with soil. This gives it more room to grow!

You may want to consider trimming the roots down when you repot your plant. This stimulates growth and allows the roots to move into the new space you have provided. This is not always necessary, though, depending on the plant.

Fertilizing

Fertilizing your plants help feed them nutrients and replenish their soil. There are many different fertilizers on the market, but the best ones to use in your home (or outside) are organic natural fertilizers.

One example is fish emulsion, which is safe to use on almost any indoor plant and does not contain any chemicals or toxins. Be aware, though; your plants may stink like fish for a day or two, so open up your windows!

Google your specific houseplant and what it requires as far as fertilization and frequency. All plants are different, and you may have to purchase multiple different fertilizers to satisfy the needs of each plant.

How to Tell If Your Plant is Healthy

Green Marbled Plant in Pot
Take a closer look at your plants every so often to see how they are doing.

There are a few important things that you can look out for to make sure your plant is healthy, happy, and thriving. Plants are not something that you sit down and leave it there for years. Plants are dynamic, ever-changing things that require constant attention and love.  For your plant to live a long life, you have to make sure that it shows signs of growth and happiness.

New Growth

If you see new, tiny leaves sprouting up on your plant or new branches beginning to form, this is new growth. New growth is usually a lighter green than the rest of the plant and appears overnight. If you see new growth on your plant, you know it is being properly cared for and thriving in its environment.

Healthy Foliage

If the leaves are thick, the stems are strong, and the stems are erect, then you have a happy plant. Look out for signs of dropping leaves and turning yellow or brown. These can be signs of unhealthy foliage and can mean that your plant needs some adjusting.

Strong Root System

If you check the bottom of your plant pots every few months, you may notice that the roots are beginning to poke out of the base. This means that even though the plant on top might not be growing, the roots are. This is an excellent sign of a healthy plant and means that you need to upgrade your plant to a bigger pot.

No Signs of Disease

If a houseplant becomes diseased, you will be able to tell. Signs of the disease include yellowing leaves, white blotches, brown spots, drooping, mush stems, and other discoloration of the plant. Keep a lookout for these signs because they are signals of an unhealthy plant. Keep reading for more on how to treat a diseased house plant.

Watering Indoor Plants

Houseplants Being Watered
Sometimes it is helpful to keep a watering schedule for your plants.

How long do house plants live? Not long if you don’t water them. Knowing when to water your plants is always tricky. It is vital to get to know your house plants to tell when they are getting thirsty. This takes time and experience, though, so here are a few methods that you can use to help you know when your plant needs water:

Pencil Method: Stick a pencil into the soil a few inches deep and pull it out. If there is wet soil stuck to it, then you do not need to water. If it comes out dry, then it is time to water.

Moisture Meter: You can purchase meters that tell you how much moisture is present in the soil at any given time.

Heaviness: Lift your pot and see how heavy it feels. If there is a lot of water left in the soil, it will weigh a lot more than if the soil is dry.

Foliage Wilting: With many household plants, such as pathos, the leaves will begin to wilt and droop when the plant requires more water.

Leaf Tips Dying: If the tips of the leaves begin to dry out and turn crispy and brown, then you might need to give your plant some more water. This can also be a sign of other things, such as too much sunlight.

Leaves Turn Yellow: If the leaves are turning yellow, this might also be a sign that your plant needs more water. This, however, can also be a sign that you are overwatering your plant, so be careful.

When Indoor Plants Get Sick

Sick and Dying Plant
A plants leaves will indicate if a plant is well cared for and what it may need.

Having a house plant become diseased is common and can often be resolved quickly if it is detected early on. Here are some of the most common diseases that may threaten the life of your plants:

Leaf Spot: This is when yellow, brown, or black spots appear on your plant. If it gets severe, it can kill the leaves. This is caused by too high of temperatures and humidity. It also is a result of inadequately circulated air. If you notice this, you will want to move your plant to a different room with less direct sun, humidity, heat, or better air circulation.

Root Rot : This occurs when you over-water your plant and the roots underneath the soil rot away. This is caused by overwatering and improper drainage. This is characterized early on by wilting leaves, even when the plant has plenty of water, and yellowing leaves.

Gray Mold: This is a fungal disease that looks like fuzzy mold all over your plant. To prevent your plants from developing this, remove dead leaves and flowers from the plants and the soil and provide your plant with adequate air circulation.

Powdery Mildew: This is a white powdery disease that appears on leaves and weakens plants without totally killing them. To prevent this, you need to provide adequate air circulation.

If you suspect that your plant might be diseased, immediately isolate it from the other plants in your home to keep it from spreading. Try altering your watering routines and adjusting their light levels.

Now that you know all you need to properly keep an indoor plant healthy, happy, and alive, let’s go through some of the most common house plants and what they prefer. This will help you determine which indoor plants are best for you.

Pothos

Green Marbled Pothos Plant
The Pothos plant makes a great hanging plant.

An easy house plant recommendation is the Pothos. They come in tons of different varieties and work great as a hanging plant because of their long vines. They are hard to kill and can survive in bright rooms or low-light areas. It is easy to tell when they are thirsty and easy to track their new growth. They also have a long lifespan if properly cared for.

Orchids

Orchid on Table
The right type of orchid can brighten any room.

If you are looking for a flowering plant that lasts a long time, consider getting an orchid. They are beautiful and easy to grow. Their flowers last for months and then can grow back if taken care of properly. They come in almost any color and do best in medium or bright light with adequate humidity. There are many different orchid types to choose from, so pick one that’s best suited for your indoor space for some beautiful color to add to your home.

Lucky Bamboo

Lucky Bamboo Near Couch
Lucky Bamboo is great for those who need something low maintenance.

Another cult classic that is almost impossible to kill is the lucky bamboo plant. They live a long time and can live on very little light. All they require is occasional water changes. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes, including twists and heart shapes!

Snake Plant

Snake Plant in Pot on Table
Highly popular Snake Plants can thrive in nearly any environment.

Snake plants are a great addition to any home. They are effortless to grow and love low light and bright light. Snake plants can go weeks without water, or they can enjoy regular drinks. They are gorgeous and can live a long time when taken care of.

Peace Lily

Peace Lily on Ledge
Peace Lillies can thrive in any lighting and loves to stay hydrated.

Another beautiful flowering plant is the peace lily. Not only does it have beautiful flowers, but its glossy leaves are beautiful foliage on their own. They like low, medium, or bright light and do good with lots of watering. They are also one of the best houseplants for filtering your hair.

Majesty Palm

Plant Next to Entryway of Home
This plant looks great in entryways and living rooms.

If you are looking for something bigger (and more tropical), then perhaps a majesty palm would work best in your home. They like bright light and moist soil, but they can adapt easily to many conditions. They have long fronds and take up a lot of space, which is great if you need to fill a corner of your room with some life!

Chinese Money Plant

Two Plants Sitting on Windowsill
These popular plants are very easy to care for and make great houseplants.

Chinese money plants have become very popular over the course of the last decade. They are smaller plants, and if well taken care of will live up to 10 years. They make great desk plants, and can keep even the most minimalistic office space looking fresh and green. The Chinese Money plant is also relatively hardy, requiring minimal care.

Air Plants

Plant in Custom Frame on Ledge
With their unique looks, Air plants can be a great indoor plant option that require minimal care.

Air plants are unique because they can grow in glass jars, in water, once separated from their host. These particular plants are epiphytic, which means they can grow on different objects or exist simply in the air without a pot. They don’t require much maintenance due to the fact they absorb most of their air through their leaves. If properly cared for, air plants can live for 3-5 years.

Coleus Plants

Coleus Plant on Windowsill
These unique-looking plants have a shorter lifespan than some of the others on our list.

Coleus plants are big, beautiful, and bright. Depending on the variety you’ve chosen, their lifespan can have a little bit of a range. Most indoor coleus plants live about 3-4 years with proper care. These plants can be kept both indoors and outdoors. Just make sure you provide it with plenty of indirect sunlight.

Spider Plants

Spider Plant on Table
If you are looking for a low-maintenance companion, spider plants are a great option.

Spider plants are another extremely popular houseplant, especially with beginners. Their hardiness is well renowned, and they are very popular in a variety of indoor spaces due to their smaller footprint. Some spider plants can live upwards of 20 years if well taken care of, so make sure to plan ahead if you decide this is the right plant for your indoor garden!

Final Thoughts

So, how long do house plants live? Indoor plants can live anywhere from a few weeks to a few decades, depending on how well you care for them.

When you purchase a plant, make sure that you are in it for the long haul and adequately care for it. Save this article and refer back to it regularly to make sure that you are maintaining proper care of your houseplants so they can live long lives.

Always research what your particular plants require and make sure you have the right light and climate available for them. Once you start filling your home with plants, you will begin to feel better, breathe better, and reap the benefits!

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