Theoretically, Can Plants Live Forever? [Explained!]

can plants live forever

If you’ve ever had a close look at a tree stump, you can see the years of its life mapped out in its rings. It’s pretty mind-boggling to look at that and realize how long some plants can actually live. That causes us to wonder, if we don’t get in their way, can plants live forever?

Some plants can live for thousands of years, while others only last a season. The length that plants can live varies from species to species.

To truly discover this answer, you need to dive into the details of specific plants and determine their lifespans on an individual basis. You will be astounded at what you may find.

In this article, we are going to look at different types of plants and their lifespans and figure out whether it is really possible for plants to live forever.

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The plant with the longest lifespan on dry land is a cypress tree in Chile that is 3600 years old, and a fig tree that was planted in Sri Lanka in the third century BC.

What Affects a Plant’s Lifespan?

The lifespan of a plant depends on what species they are and the conditions they are growing in, but all plants have an average age.

Plants can be divided into three main groups:

●     Annual

These plants complete their whole lifecycle from seed to flower and back to seed again in one growing season. The leaves, stems, flowers, and roots will all die back and leave dormant seeds behind to germinate the next generation of plants.

Nasturtiums are annual flowers.

●     Perennial

In contrast, perennials are plants that come back every season. The top portion of the plant will die back in winter and bloom during the warmer months. They may retain their leaves all year round.

Purple cone flowers are an example of a perennial plant.

●     Biennial

As the name suggests, these plants take two years to complete their lifecycle.

They behave similarly to perennials, just over a more extended period. The first season of growth will see blooming happening closer to the soil’s surface, while the second growth will be at its full height.

Foxgloves are an example of a biennial plant.

Occasionally, you will come across a plant that is an annual/perennial. These have the capacity to behave as either depending on what climate and geographical challenges it faces.

So, as we can see, some plants are destined to live for years while others just last a season. So what is to stop plants from living forever?

The main threat to a plant’s livelihood is humans. Yes, animals may feed on specific plants, but at the end of the day, human activities like climate change, agriculture, and housing at mostly to blame for the lives of most plants getting cut short.

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The plant that has been around for the longest, according to the fossil record, is a species of red algae whose fossils are 1.6 billion years old.

Can Plants Live Forever?

Theoretically, some plants can live so long that it may be impossible for us to discover how old they can get.

Some plants have much longer lifespans compared to ours, so we may never know how long certain plants can live. They might simply outlive us for so long that we never get an accurate answer.

When it comes to trees, they are more likely to be killed than die naturally. This is almost always due to human intervention, but it can also be due to animal and disease damage. Trees can live on for thousands of years unchecked if left to their own devices.

Overall, the way to increase the lifespan of the plants in your garden is to perfectly meet all their growth needs. This is a challenge, especially when you have a large garden, but if you get it right, some of your plants might even outlive you.

The four main elements to get right for a long-living plant are

  • Watering
  • Light
  • Soil
  • Temperature

If you get these right within your garden for each plant you care for, then they should live to the full extent of their natural lifespan quite happily.

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There is one bristlecone pine in California that is so old it has a name. Methuselah has been growing for nearly five millennia.

How Long Do Plants Live?

So, now that we know that the lives of plants depend greatly on the species, let’s look at the lifespans of some popular plants.

Plant Lifespan
Hydrangeas 50 years
Coast Redwood Tree 2000 years
Grape Vines 125 years
Ginko Tree Over 1000 years
Daisy 2- 3 years
Aloe Vera 12 years
Monstera 40 years
Fiddle Leaf Fig 25-50 years

It is quite mind-boggling to look at these plants side by side and see the vast difference between their lifespans. It truly shows how diverse the plant world is, and that is just the species that we know about. Who knows what could be hidden deep in an unexplored rainforest?

Frequently Asked Questions:

What plant has the shortest lifespan?

Daylilies are flowers that only live for one day, hence their name. The stem, however, will continue to produce flowers for up to three weeks.

What is the oldest living plant?

To find the oldest recorded living plant, we need to leave the land and explore the sea!

The oldest plant on Earth is called Posidonia australis, and it is a seagrass that grows in Shark Bay, Western Australia. It is estimated to be over 4500 years old and spans 180km of the ocean floor.


Plants are incredible beings.

They can vary from the smallest, most delicate flower to the towering, feet-thick trees that have been around for hundreds of years.

At the end of the day, because of our lifespans and how many plants are in the world, we may never discover truly how old certain plants can get. It’s facts like this that really make us step back and look at the world of flora in wonder.

We hope this has given you something to think about the next time you wander through a forest or into your garden and really think about how old your plants truly are.

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