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The general consensus is that Monstera can live for about forty years, but there’s not really much evidence bar anecdotal.
The length of time plants can live is reported in a bit of a skewed way because of the way we use them. What I mean is that we often say that a plant will live x number of years, when in fact it can live much longer – it’ll just look awful.
Also, sometimes humans can dramatically increase (and decrease) how long something can live – think about how much longer animals live in captivity than they do in the wild. I have two house rabbits that are young for house rabbits (they’re four) – I’d expect them to reach 12. But they’ve already exceeded their life expectancy in the wild by 100%. Well done guys.
Sure, your house may not have perfect light. You may forget to water occasionally. But you can protect it from the wind, lightening, being dug up by botanists and stood on by elephants.
How long can a Monstera live?
Currently, we’re looking at about 40 years BUT it’s important to note that we only really have anecdotal evidence. House plant care on the current scale is only in its infancy! I like to think that in a few generation we’ll have 100 year old Monsteras.
As it stands, we don’t have much evidence to suggest Monstera live longer than 40 years BUT there’s no clear reason why they wouldn’t live much longer. It could go either way at this point.
How do I tell how old my Monstera is?
There are plenty of sites that will give diagrams of how to tell how old your plant is, but it’s really hard to tell.
Monstera that have spent years in darker conditions may still be producing juvenile leaves. A Monstera grown in optimal conditions may develop large, fenestrated leaves in a year or two.
I have a pretty mature Monstera – I can tell because it has splits on the leaves and two rows of fenestrations.
It also has a really thick stem:
How old is it?
Impossible to tell without having it tested, because it may have been growing in lab conditions for four years, or doing its own thing in someone’s front room for the best part of a decade.
For all I know, someone just lopped a bit of a wild plant. I have no idea.
It actually bothers me a bit. Is she five? Twenty five? What if I buy a MASSIVE fifty-year-old plant for a grand and then it drops down dead???
How to tell if a Monstera is dead or dormant
If a Monstera is dead it’ll go all brown and the roots will shrivel up to nothing. Monstera are actually pretty hard to kill, don’t assume it’s dead until you have an empty pot. If you have a node, you can regrow roots. If you have roots, you can regrow the plant.
Monstera do go dormant…kind of. It’s situational dormancy though, which means it’s stopped growing in response to external stimuli, rather than it being part of its natural life cycle.
A dormant Monstera shouldn’t look any different to a growing one, other than that it won’t be growing. If your Monstera is starting to decline – go droopy or get brown spots on the leaves then there’s a problem besides dormancy. Check that it hasn’t gotten too cold, or picked up pests from somewhere.
How to kill a Monstera
At first I wondered why someone might want to know that, and then I remembered that they’re invasive in many places. If you need to kill plants I’m the person to come to!
You could pour boiling water on the roots, or go the opposite direction and put it somewhere really cold.
The roots are thick and tend to be well attached to the plant so you could pull the whole thing up and put it in the bin if you so wish.
How to make a Monstera live longer
Monstera are supremely easy to care for and hard to kill (unless you wanna boil them).
Make sure they have plenty of light (they can handle a lot of light – the more the better, but acclimate them if you’re putting them in direct sun and make sure they won’t get too hot).
Humidity will help Monstera to grow faster and with smaller internodal spaces, resulting in a more compact, bushy plant. If given the correct conditions over time you’ll end up with a freaking monster.
Can Monstera live forever?
I don’t know if you could tell from my tone, but I kind of think that they can. I vaguely think that about all plants.
They’re constantly regrowing their roots and leaves, so why not? If you root a cutting is that not technically the same plant, with the same DNA? It’s not like the plant’s child, because that would be if you grew a new plant from that plant’s seed.
And now the existential question I have whizzing around my head is ‘if you chopped off my arm and it grew into another me, would that still be me?’
Hmm, maybe not.
Until I’m presented with evidence that plants age like we do, I’m convinced that it’s possible for plants to live until, er, someone kills them. Like Elves.
I think on that weird note, I’ll end this article.