We sometimes get asked how long should you expect a houseplant to live and we usually say at least several years but it really depends on the care and environment.
With the right care a plant in the right place can live for years and years. The oldest houseplant in the world is over 240 years old and can be seen today at Kew. The amazing Eastern Cape giant cycad first arrived at Kew in 1775 after the botanist Francis Masson, brought it back from South Africa.
Most large retailers expect a plant to last 4 to 6 weeks on the shop floor, even less if it's flowering and then they expect to throw the plant away as it becomes less than perfect. That's not a very sustainable approach and it's a shame as most plants with even the the smallest amount of care will recover and flower again and again.
To give your plant the best chance of survival, purchase from a reputable source and ensure you match your plant with your home. Be wary of plants sold as ideal for bathroom, living room and bedrooms. No two rooms are the same and you will know better than anyone the light, heating, and humidity in your home and what plants will work best with just a little bit of research.
When you've considered the plants that work best for your home, think about your lifestyle and how much time you have to spend caring for your plants. If you are busy, rare and delicate orchids are probably not your best choice and look instead at cactus or succulent that will enjoy being left along and neglected for weeks at a time.
With the right care and match for your lifestyle, you can expect your houseplant to live almost forever.
If you’d like to see a video we have made about general houseplant care, have a look here.