How To Grow Norfolk Island Pine With 10 Important Care Tips

    Norfolk Island Pine- Complete Profile With Care Tips

    Norfolk Island Pine is an evergreen native to the regions of subtropical in the south pacific. With the name norfolk island pine, you might be considering it a pine tree, but it’s not. It is the relative of a monkey puzzle tree. It originally belongs to New Zealand, and when grown nearby it can grow nearly 200 feet tall.

    Norfolk island pine is often cultivated as a landscape tree in North American subtropical climates, in zones 10 to 11. This tree has a straight trunk with pleasing symmetrical kinds of branches all covered with inward curving and short needles.

    In other regions, this tree is often grown as a Christmas tree, now you might know which plant we are talking about and how it looks like. Most often we just discard this tree after Christmas gets over, but we can always keep it with us given that it is kept only 5 feet or below in height.

    Here are some profile details of Norfolk island pine that you can read for reference and understanding the plant even better.

    • The botanical name for this plant is Araucaria heterophylla.
    • Common names include Norfolk island pine or simply Norfolk pine.
    • The plant type is needled evergreen conifer
    • It may reach even 200 feet tall when it is grown in its native place in the wild and 3 to 8 feet tall when it is grown indoors.
    • It requires full sun exposure and can tolerate shade as well.
    • It mainly requires sandy or peaty soil, you can also use peat-based potting mix.
    • soil pH should be between 4.5 to 5.5 which is acidic in nature.
    • Hardiness zones are 10 to 11.

    If you are fascinated by how this plant looks like, you need to include it in your garden. It looks really eye-catching and can improve the appearance of your yard or garden once grown. You can also grow it inside your house making it an extraordinary option for your house decor if you are into plant decors.

    How To Grow Norfolk Island Pine

    Norfolk Island Pine
    Photo by adamkontor on Pixabay

    These plants can be grown indoors as well as outdoors. They do have certain preferred growing conditions like all other plants do, but these plants are pretty forgiving in nature and have the ability to thrive in many different sets of conditions. These features make it a great option for your house.

    If you wish to grow it outdoors, the best you can do is plant this tree in a moderately moist, porous, or sandy location where full exposure to the sun is available on most days. Once it has established itself by growing the roots, it is likely to tolerate dry conditions as well.

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    When deciding to grow indoors, you must use a potting mix that is slightly acidic, sandy, and porous at the same time. Try to add extra sand and peat moss while planting it to make sure it maintains its porosity and acidity for a long time. Try to keep the soil damp and avoid making it soggy. You have to make sure the plant is getting as much light as possible when you grow it inside your house. Let’s see different aspects of growth including light, sun exposure, soil. etc.

    It requires different conditions for great growth, however, it tolerates all the climates so you need not worry about the specifics too much. Let’s see what are optimal conditions for its growth and some tips you need to follow along with them:

    1. Light

    Although Norfolk pine prefers full sun exposure whenever possible, they are capable of handling long periods in dimmer conditions. By long periods you can expect months at a time. This clearly means you can keep your plant indoors during the wintertime and then whenever it is sunny, move them outdoors. While growing indoors, if your plant starts getting stretched, this might be due to the combination of light given and fertilizers used. These things can often make your plant’s growth leggy.

    If you are facing the same, there are solutions to tackle every problem. Just cut back on the fertilizer till the time the plant has enough access to sunlight. You can also turn it frequently to both sides alternatively so that each side receives equal sunlight making the growth better.

    2. Soil

    tree, pine, norfolk
    Photo by PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay

    The Norfolk island pine is an acid-loving plant which means it thrives best when the soil is acidic in nature. If you have an indoor plant of this type, you have to use the peat-based potting mixture for it. This mix is the best for your plant as it helps acidify the soil gradually as the peat inside of it breaks down.

    If you have planted this outdoors in your yard or garden, you can go for sandy and rich soil that has peat moss inside of it most probably. As you already know this plant has the ability to thrive in all conditions, you can avoid mixing too much peat moss.

    3. Water

    Norfolk island pine is somewhat tolerant to drought conditions. These plants are quite forgiving when it comes to watering them regularly or where water is concerned. It s highly recommended that you let the water inside them evaporate or let the roots absorb all the water so that solid ries out. Once the soil is dry, you can water them again. One more trick to pay attention to is to look for needles, if you notice the needles turning yellow, it is time to water them.

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    4. Temperature And Humidity

    Because these plants are native to the south pacific, they do prefer warm and wetter climates than usual. The temperature they require ranges between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

    They have the ability to survive in warmer and cooler temperatures as well but they may show some bad signs if the temperature drops down to 35 degrees Fahrenheit or less than that. You can always use some ways to maitnating the humidity inside if you have an indoor norfolk island pine. All you need to do is mist the plant using a spray regularly or place it on a saucer of water but make sure you are not allowing the roots to sit inside the water for few minutes also.

    Keeping all these things aside, this plant is very forgiving in nature when you compare it with other subtropical plants.

    5. Fertilizer And Pesticides Required

    Although it will be best if you suspend using fertilizer for your plant in low light conditions, you can always use a weak liquid fertilizer throughout the seasons it is growing.

    The younger Norfolk Island pines have a weak root system as compared to the older ones, this is one reason why they are also named “suicide trees”. They have gained this name over a period of time now due to their weak roots. If you wish to keep an eye on and strengthen their roots, just make sure you are using a fertilizer regularly and do not hesitate to stake the tree if it requires you to do so.

    6. Potting And Repotting

    araucaria heterophylla, tree, conifer
    Photo by sarangib on Pixabay

    A potted Norfolk island pine will pests when potted in peaty and sandy mix soil that is slightly acidic in nature. You must know that these plants when young do not grow very fast, so it might be possible to report them every other year instead of repotting them every year or in few months,

    When the plant matures, it tends to grow faster. The best time to repot your plant is in springtime. If your plant attains a larger size than 5 to 6 feet, make sure you prepare a heavy potting mix such as potting sand should be in larger amount so that the plant has enough weight underneath it which helps to keep it upright. An upright plant receives sunlight in a better way, so this is an important aspect to know if you are planning to grow Norfolk Island Pine.

    Now comes pruning Norfolk pine, let’s see what to do.

    7. Pruning Norfolk Island Pine

    When it comes to pruning your plant, you must remove the lower branches that have died. This issue is pretty common in indoor plants and specimens. Usually, it is not recommended for this tree to trim on the top but if your tree acquires a huge size or the brackets are growing too high, you can always trim the central leader.

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    This is important as it will cause the tree to breach out from the cut point itself. When you do so, you must know that the plant will lose its evergreen look which we adore for some time but the health of the plant will not be affected. Also, you must get rid of dead and diseased branches if you notice them. Other than these few reasons, pruning is not necessary for Norfolk island pine.

    8. How To Propagate Norfolk Island Pine

    This plant belongs to the class of gymnosperms. Gymnosperms are those plants that have female and male organs both for reproduction in the same tree. Virtually, all the plants belonging to this category are grown from seeds that are generally brought or imported from the pacific oceans. However, the home growers do not bother about propagation or using the seeds.

    9. Varieties Of Norfolk Island Pine

    In the market, only one variety of Norfolk island pine is available which is Araucaria Heterophylla. This plant generally does not have any named varieties or cultivars till now. But some other species belong to this family do show up in the tree that is mislabeled as Norfolk island pine, these include S. Araucana, A. Bidwilli, etc. Most likely you might not see these in the market, but you happen to like the varieties more or you get them by chance, the requirements for their growth be it water, light, the soil, are usually the same.

    10. Toxicity Of Norfolk Island Pine

    This plant is usually toxic but mildly to the pets. If you have a dog or a cat and they ingest these needles, they are most likely to face moth or stomach irritation along with vomiting at times. This plant is not at all toxic to human beings so you can easily get it home if you have children or if you do not own any pets.

    Common Diseases And Pests

    Plant Care Today

    These plants are really vulnerable to diseases and pests including mealybugs, aphids, whitefly, scale, etc. If possible, make sure you witness your plant carefully for pests every week so that the infestation can be stopped and they can be removed as soon as possible thus not compromising with the help of the plant. Also, when it comes to treating your plant, try to use options that are least toxic so that their health is not affected.

    Some Common Problems And Their Causes

    Norfolk island pine does have certain problems that need to be corrected. Here are some symptoms you can always look inside them and know the causes so that you can treat them as soon as possible.

    • In case the plant has crisping and curling needles, the main cause behind this is that the plant needs water or the humidity is low.
    • The needles of plants are falling too much or too soon, the reason could be overwatering the plant or not enough light to sustain healthy growth.
    • The stems turn yellow and start rotting if you overwater the plant or do not let the potting medium dry out between watering.

    This was everything you needed to know about Norfolk Island Pine and the different care tips you must follow when it comes to light, temperature, and soil type for amazing growth.


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