Oldest plants

Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)December 5, 2012

Probably done before, sorry if I just didn't find it reasonably recently...

Just for fun, fee free to answer any or all... I feel kind of anal about numbering them, like a book report for English class, but it was visually easier to digest and gives ppl a quick way to say which one they're addressing.

1) What plant have you had for the longest amount of time that's currently still alive and how old?

On this I believe it's an Aglaonema that I can remember being in my room as a young teen, and the plain green spider plant that's been kicking around for decades may have come from the same planter.

2) If you previously had another plant that lived longer than any plants you have alive now, what was that and how old? OR what's the oldest plant you've killed?

Poor rubber tree, got to be so big and pretty, 8-9 years old, but unable to survive being stuck in a cold shed a few years ago.

3) What about a plant that you know is just really old but maybe you haven't had it for its' whole life?

Around 20 yrs ago my Gramma gave me a Drac. marginata 'tricolor' tree and some potted Sans trifasciata. Nobody remembers when the tree came into her life, but at least 35-40 years ago. My Mom's pretty sure the Sans is somewhere around 80.

4) The oldest captive plant you've seen?

When I lived in Columbus OH I liked to visit the Franklin Park Conservatory to see, among other things, their bonsai collection, some of which were tiny trees labeled as being 300, 350 years old. Although not unusual for a similar facility in any city to have such a collection, kind of hard to wrap your mind around standing there looking, reading the signs. Hard to imagine both the fact that such is possible AND that obviously a really long time ago, somebody had the idea to DO that and figured out how. How nervous do you think "the new guy" is at that job when a replacement is necessary?

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I have a Schefflera that I've had at least 20-25 years.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 6:15PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

I have a tree philodendron that I've had for at least 34 years.

Last year I lost a schefflera that I had 28 years, not sure how old it was.


    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 7:54PM
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I have palm - don't have ID - that is 43 yrs old...It's just a skinny 'stick' with leaves only on top...it always been like that. It got too tall & would not fit in the house, so few yrs ago I air-layered it & shortened it back to just abt. 3feet. It grows new leaves & flowers too; I am going to repot it in spring, will see how it will grow after that.

I bought Crown of thorns at the same time; from a small seedling (maybe 1.5") it grew into a very bushy, over 4feet tall plant. Left it with my ex...it lived for about 20(+?)yrs, but eventually it ended up in CT heaven...These were my first house plants in Canada.

I also have a ficus Benjamina rescued from a trash container approx. 16-17yrs ago, it was a mature plant already but pretty neglected. I moved in Jan. couple of yrs later, and it almost froze. Lost all the leaves, and looked really dead. I was about to dispose of it, but that summer few new leaves appeared. So it is still alive.


    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 11:27PM
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Can't really answer this...my oldest plant that's still alive is a pothos that's a year and half old..no fun...my parents didn't have any houseplants when I was growing up except for once I remember my mom bought a venus fly trap and I would sit there and poke it...it died pretty fast...

I just hope that someday I can tell people that my plants are 20-30 years old....that would be neat..

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 4:05AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

My personal oldest are 3 cattleya orchids that were giv en to me in 1979. Still growing and flowering.
A dracaena that I brought with me from Kansas in 1978 though it's growing in the yard here in florida. My SIL still has a piece still growing in a pot in Kans lol
She also has a peperomomia that I started in 1970. I brought a piece with me but a hurricane wiped it out though again I planted it in the yard

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 4:36AM
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well, I never had houseplants growing up. My mom didn't believe in them. And, a green thumb doesn't come naturally to me - so, while I started getting plants back in the early 90s I don't have any of those alive. That said, about 4 summers ago, I decided to decorate the front porch for the summer, and I'd bought a whole bunch of plants and potted them all, there were dahlias, begonias, african daisies and supertunias, a few Euphorbia, an avacado tree (that I'd started from a pit) and about 30 or 40 pots spread out around the porch with a great variety of colors and annual plants. It was the delight of the neighborhood. Neighbors would walk by and come up and sit down on the porch and be surrounded by flowers and greenery and this led to some great chats.

When the first floor neighbor who I was close to, died - my access to water became limited without having to do a 3 flight climb. So, the summer porch decorating idea ended after 2 years - but it was good while it lasted.

Of all of those plants, I have a few of the euphorbia left, and a Rosemary bush.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 9:50AM
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At the moment, I don't think I have an oldest plant. I recently had a terrible infestation of narcissus bulb fly that came through and wiped out my oldest bulb, which would have been close to 14 or 15 years old, or thereabouts. I bought it on a whim, for a whole $3, only because it had the same name as my dog, Minerva. Sadly, she passed away a few years ago. That's why the bulb was so special to me.

A very dear friend honored me with a generous replacement bulb, so I'm hoping to rekindle the tradition, and keep this Minerva alive and re-blooming annually for many years to come!

With any luck, some of my salvaged bulbs will make it, and that would make my oldest plant about... 5 or 6 years old, I do believe. Not very old, at all.

Previously, I'd had plants with lots of age on them... but lost them in a house fire. We've just had all the luck, I guess. Oh, well... what can you do? Life happens!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 11:02AM
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i do not have any plants more than a few years old, but my great grandmother had an aloe plant over 30 yeara old. We divided it a few years ago but before that it had grown over 3 feet tall and around with long twisting stalks that wove around and around the plant. Stretched out some of the aloe was at least 6 feet. It was growing in 1 inch of soil in a small drainage saucer.

She divided it into 10 pots, but as she got older they were neglected and now only two small pots of it remain, but they're doing well.

She also has several thanksgiving cactus, draceana, a boston fern, and two snake plants at least 20.

A Norfolk pine and a chinese evergeen that are 15.

At a local public library, they have had 5 weeping fig trees growing in gigantic planters in the lobby for more than 40 years. They were at least 20 feet tall and and around and needed very frequent pruning to stay that small. Last year they renovated and removed them. I'm not sure if they brought them back after finishing or not because I've not been back lately.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 1:11PM
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Purple, great thread.

My oldest plant is a green Spider, bought 1972.

Spider was doing great until last July during our heat wave. So many leaves burned. I ended up unpotting, trimming roots and foliage..it sure doesnt' look like it did before July.

Second oldest plant is Clivia, sowed from seed, 1982.
Can't find a new pic of the plant, but here are 2012's bloms.

This pic was taken 2009..and no, I didn't pay the price on the pot..lol. I save growing pots..thankfully kept container to repot Clivia.

Last is Crown of Thorns, Milii, started by a cutting, 1982/3.

The last pic was taken 2009...again, no recent pic. Well, there are, but alongside other plants, so hard to see.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 1:42PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Oldest houseplant is a Ficus bonsai grown from a seedling, about 23 years old.

Oldest houseplant in my care is another Ficus I've had for 20 years +, and was probably about 15 years old when I got it.

The oldest houseplant material I have, is a piece of a Boston Fern I got from a soon to be 99 year old friend I've mentioned often. Fred was a true plantsman and had a knack for plants like I've never seen. The story behind the fern is circuitous. More than 100 years ago, Fred's father, a greenhouseman, sold a Boston fern to a lady. Per Fred, she tended it for 83 years, then gave Fred a piece of it back. He grew it for years & years, and gave away dozens of starts, one of which he made me take, so that's how that story came about.

The oldest outdoor plant that's been in my care since it was in a small nursery can is a J procumbens 'nana' (dwarf Japanese garden juniper), also about 23 or 24 years old. The oldest trees I own are a Pinus ponderosa (ponderosa pine) and a Picea glauca var. densata (Black Hills spruce). Both were collected from the wild in North Dakota. The pine is probably between 200-300 years old, and the spruce is 300-400 years old, according to the friend who does timber surveys for the US Forest Service and collected them. I once saw a piece of trunk from one of these stressed spruces grown on rock in extreme conditions that was less than an inch in diameter. With a magnifying glass, you could see where Andy had counted and demarcated the growth rings in 50 year segments, of which there were about 4-1/2. THAT, is what I call slow-growing!


    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 1:44PM
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Being fairly new to this plant thing, the oldest one I have is my Bonny Spider Plant. I got her in July of 2011. Hoping to have her and her babies last for a few more years.. :)


    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 3:16PM
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Wow! This is a great thread, I love all these stories! It made me think about the plants I've grown up with. I've only been growing my own plants for a couple of years now. Since my interests have moved to plants, my parents let me take care of all the plants that were already around the house. Talking with my parents, and grandparents, I have found out some cool history about the plants and our family.
On my mom's side there is a Hoya that was my great-grandmother's and once lined a room. It is still just a single stem and is wrapped around, through, and on a trellis to the Nth time. It's 40+.
On my dad's side there are Aloe vera and real Christmas Cactus cuttings that are generational and the genes on the now monsters have got to be pretty old. There are also two F. benjamina that are a little over 20 and a Monstera approaching a decade.
Also, one of my friend's mom asked me to help with some of her plants and as a kind of payment I got a offset off a Aechmea fasciata that she started in the 70's.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 10:43PM
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It IS a neat thread... lots of family history!

Unfortunately, growing and gardening seems to skip a generation in my family. My Grandma grew beautiful plants, indoors and out... my Mother could kill any plant in record time! I love plants and gardening, but my daughter shows no interest, at all. Hopefully, my Granddaughter will pick up the tradition, and I'll be able to teach her a little something about growing... time will tell!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 1:37PM
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I've had my Philo Bipinnatifidum and Ficus for over 25 yrs.

Most of my Dracaena Warneckii are from one plant I got about 24 or 25 yrs ago.

When we bought our house in 1985, I rec'd a small jade plant as a gift and since then I've made MANY plants from it to give away.

Also, I have pothos and spider plants that are 25 or more yrs old.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 1:38PM
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Purple, what have you to be sorry about!?

I love these kinds of threads. I have one, but I am not home to post it.

One has to be careful when stating their oldest plant, since for sure one may give away their true age..lol
Decades? Not you;;;;;;;;;_)

Beautiful plants here everyone! I have none that survived my old mixes before coming here, except my Jade tree.

I'll post soon:-)


    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 3:36PM
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My oldest plant that I am sure of its age is a cactus, some kind of Mamillaria. I received it on my son's first birthday. He is about to turn twenty four. It is in a sixteen inch pot, and soon it will be history since it is getting too big for me to move in and out. I have a couple of Hoyas that I think are older, but I can't remember for sure.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 6:07PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

To all: Wow & Cool!

Gonna let this flow on... like graffiti...

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 6:32PM
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No doubt! Wow and Cool, for sure! I love that cacti with the tiny pink blooms!

Cacti, I kill with kindness... I bow my head to your skill! And what do I see behind it, off to the right? Are those bulbs? I adore bulbs! What are they? Is it, by chance, Pregnant Onion?

Not very old, but part of my collection, anyway...



And those are the bulk of my collection, sans two windowsills I store plants in for winter, that are too dark to get decent shots in.

Have a great day, everyone!

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 11:04AM
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The oldest plant in my collection is a rather gnarly, woody old Plectranthus Verticillatus that I got from my best friend's Mom. She'd had the plant since the early 1970's and gave it to me as a house warming gift in 2009. I have since been playing around with shaping it into a bonsai, and as it turns out, old p. verticillatus specimens actually make some pretty interesting bonsai!

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 4:06PM
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Do you have a photo? I'd love to see it!

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 4:19PM
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The plant to the right of the cactus is Ornithogalum, Pregnant onion, nothing special, just my scale indicator plant. I have plenty of hippis, but none that are old and venerable like your Minerva was, Jodik. I just remembered that I have a clone (Do clones count?) of my first Thanksgiving cactus, a cutting given to me by a coworker back in 1977. I have cloned it many times, so maybe it doesn't count.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 4:41PM
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Laura Robichaud

LOVE the red blooms on that TC!

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 4:52PM
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We have what I believe is called a Spider Fern, that is 80 years old. It was given to my partner's Grandmother as a wedding present in around 1932. It is still alive and thriving, and was passed along to my partner when my grandmother entered the nursing home in 2009.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 11:07PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hi Ward. Welcome to GW! That's pretty cool to hear. If you feel like adding a pic of this old plant to this discussion, I'm sure everyone would enjoy seeing it very much.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 8:53AM
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I myself don't have many old plants. I do have a violet that has been in the family for over 30years? My great aunt had it when my dad was growing up and when she passed away it got devided up between among the family. Everyone got a start. Its one of my most treasured plants and I now have numerous violets that I have started from the original piece I got years ago.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 1:07PM
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Great thread Tiffany, I got my pothos more than 25 years ago from a co-worker, she gave a 2 pieces that was maybe 6" long, she has been through many moves and I almost lost her a few times but she's always come back, since then I have given away many cuttings. I love reading all the stories :Christine

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 11:11AM
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paul_(z5 MI)

You could always remove a piece or two of that cacti to restart before you send it off to a new home.

I'm the only plant person in my family so, alas, no heirlooms.

My oldest plants are both orchids. One is a NoID Dendrobium and the other is a Catt. hybrid (Potinara Hoku Gem 'Super Spots'). Each is at least 20yrs old.

Oldest plant I have seen is a Sequoia Redwood at the National Forest. heh Have seen some very old bonsai though I can't remember their ages.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 4:04PM
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My grandma kept a snake plant going for about 55 years. That's the most senior plant in the family. It departed about four years ago.

My oldest is a Ti Plant I got during my freshman year of college (August 2007). It was separated from my late grandfather's plant. It has survived being peed on by rude college guys (covered in another thread), fungus gnats, and the eternal struggle to keep it humid. I created optimal conditions for it during my senior year of college (it put out brilliant pink leaves), but of course had to move out...

The next closest is a snake plant I picked off the Lowe's "distressed plant" rank for 50 cents (March 2008). It's had a fairly drama-free life, as snake plants often do. In the winter of '09 its leaves started folding up, but moving it away from the window helped. It also once jumped out of its pot in the middle of the night!

Everything else is five or younger. Of course, it's hard to say exactly how old my store-bought friends are.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 8:47PM
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