Norfolk Pine Plant Care

Do you want your Christmas tree to shine all year round? Of course, you do, but we are not talking about your artificial one.

No, we are talking about the Norfolk Island pine you see dressed up with lights and garlands outside.

It is a perfect indoor plant, and you can enjoy the smell of pine in your living space all year. Today we are looking at caring for Norfolk Island pines.

More About the Norfolk Island Pine

norfolk pine trees

Okay, first things first, the Norfolk pines are not pine trees. No, the tree is a relative to the monkey puzzle tree cultivated in subtropical climates throughout North America. The tree has a straight trunk with symmetrical branches covered with inward-curving needles.

Many people grew it as a living Christmas tree and discarded it after the holiday cheer. Still, you can keep the plant indoors or even outdoors when spring arrives. Yet, a small reminder is that the Norfolk pine is toxic to animals.

When you grow the Araucaria heterophylla indoors, it can reach up to eight feet tall, and yes, it is native to Norfolk Island in New Zealand. It is also a tropical plant that thrives in humidity.

Norfolk Island Pines Tips

norfolk pine tree

The Norfolk Island pine is a forgiving tree that grows in different settings. It needs porous, moist yet sandier soil with the full sun when grown as an outdoor plant. Yet, once the roots establish, they can tolerate some drought.

When you grow Norfolk Island, pine trees inside it need the same soil but be kept moist but not soggy with a lot of light. The tree also has male and female productive organs and is mainly grown from seeds.

Sadly propagating the tree is of no use as taking a cutting from your tropical plant will make it die.

The Type of Soil That Norfolk Pine Plant Needs

When it comes to Norfolk Island pine care provides it with well-drained and slightly acidic soil. Hence, choosing a peat-based potting mixture is ideal for your potted plant. You can grow your pine tree in sandy soil amended with peat moss for outdoor settings.

Light Requirement for Norfolk Pine Plant

norfolk pine in full sun

These trees make for great houseplants, even if they prefer full sun. Still, these trees can tolerate long periods of indirect light. Hence, you can keep your plants indoors during the winter months and move them to direct sunlight in the summer months.

While growing indoors and seeing your plant stretching, the lack of light in a shady corner with heavy fertilizers can result in leggy growth. It helps to cut back on feeding until you can provide your tree with more light.

It also helps to turn your tree frequently to allow optimal, light coverage of each side. The best place for your tree is a south-facing window where it can get more bright indirect light.

How To Water Norfolk Pine

Your Norfolk Island, as you know by now, is not a true pine tree and can tolerate drought to salt. Hence, the plant grows well in coastal areas as it is salt tolerant.

These tropical plants with a pine-like tree structure need a drainage hole in the container. So, it helps to water when the soil feels dry.

Also, water well until the excess water drains from the drainage holes.

Fertilizer Needs

liquid fertilizer

When you want to feed your Araucaria heterophylla, it helps to use a weak liquid fertilizer during the growing season. Still, during low-light periods the best is to suspend feeding. Young plants have a weak root system, and providing regular feeds will strengthen the roots. Also, it helps to support your pine tree using a stake.

Temperature and Humidity Levels

The Norfolk Island pine is native to the South Pacific Ocean and prefers a warmer yet wetter climate. The Norfolk pine grows well in enough light and can tolerate temperatures between 55°F to 65°F.

While they can survive in cooler and warmer climates of the USDA zones, they cannot thrive in temperatures below 35°F. Hence, they are not cold, hardy trees like the true pines. For humidity, these plants need an occasional misting using a spray bottle, or you can place a pebble tray with water underneath it without the roots touching the water.

Still, it is forging for drier indoor temperatures. The important thing is to provide good drainage holes and bright light and keep your tree away from cooling vents, with enough humidity with a quarter turn for even light exposure.

Repotting, Pruning, and Propagation

norfolk pine tree potting

The good news is that your Norfolk Island pine trees only need repotting when they become root-bound. If you notice the roots poking out underneath, we recommend giving your tree a new home.

The tree is not a fast grower; once it matures, it grows faster. Therefore, the best time to repot is in spring. For mature trees, when repotting helps provide a lot of sand to the mix for added weight to keep your tree upright.

As mentioned, Norfolk Island pines love warm weather, and when it faces frost, the needles turn yellow. Hence, bringing your tree indoors is best, providing enough humidity using a humidifier nearby.

Also, provide a sunny spot where it can get a few hours of bright light. It also helps to prune the dead lower branches and is not recommended to trim the top. Still, you can remove the central leader as an indoor plant when your tree grows high.

Lastly, it is impossible to propagate your Norfolk pines as they are mostly grown from seed.

Norfolk Pine Varieties

Unfortunately, there is only one Norfolk Island pine variety available: the Araucaria heterophylla. There are no other cultivars, and you may find some other species showing up mislabeled as this plant. These are the

  • Araucaria bidwillii
  • Araucaria araucana
  • Araucaria columnaris

The care requirements are the same if you find any of these available.

Common Problems With Norfolk Island Pine

The Norfolk pine tree is susceptible to pests like most other plants. These include aphids, spider mites, scale, mealybugs, and whiteflies. Your Norfolk pines can also get fungal diseases from overwatering, turning the tree yellow, or noticing brown branches.

A telltale sign that your trees are suffering is by looking at the needle coloring. When the needles turn brown, temperature fluctuations can result from this happening. It is also a sign that your tree is over or underwater.

When you notice the needles turning yellow, it needs more direct sun. On the other hand, it can also be from getting too much sunlight or going through extemperature changestreme. Lastly, if you notice needles dropping, they can be from overwatering or need several hours of sunlight.

Where to Buy a Norfolk Pine Plant?

You can find Norfolk Island pine trees at any local garden center. Or you can get this gorgeous tree here at Plantly.

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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