How long does it take for a tree to start dying after being planted in a pot? If you’re thinking of planting a tree in your backyard, it’s important to know how long a tree can live in a pot. Contrary to popular belief, a tree can actually grow and thrive in a pot as long as the soil is well-drained and the pot is large enough. A pot that is too small will cause the tree to root too deep and eventually die. A pot that is too large will cause the tree to grow too tall and also die.