Many people start to get interested in Norfolk Island pine care since this plant makes a wonderful addition to the festive holiday.
This cute tiny houseplant is more familiar during Christmas. However, does not mean you should abandon the plant when the holiday is over.
Norfolk Island pine can make a stunning houseplant. Hence, you will love how this plant complements your garden all year round.
An Introduction to Norfolk Island Pine
Even though this plant’s name and appearance share some similarities with a pine tree, it is not a kind of pines at all.
The member of an ancient plant family acquires needle-like foliage and cone-like seeds, making it often mistaken for the usual pine trees.
Scientifically known as Araucaria Heterophylla, this dazzling tropical plant is originally from Norfolk Island.
Many stores sell tiny Norfolk Pines throughout Christmas, making them very seasonal.
While most of them end up in the trash when the festive holiday is over, some people want to enjoy the beauty of this tropical plant even longer.
Before learning further about Norfolk Island Pine care, you must be aware that this plant is slightly toxic to pets.
The ingestion of its needles and branches can make your pets get mouth irritation and stomachache. Vomiting is another common effect of pine’s toxicity to animals.
Growing a Araucaria Heterophylla as a Houseplant
Norfolk Island pines can grow up to 200 feet in height when cultivating in their natural environment. These tall growers are very long-lived as they often reach 200 years old too.
This tree enjoys full sun in its indigenous environment. Otherwise, Norfolk Island pines can withstand the low light of most homes.
Growing Norfolk Island pines in low light only slows their growth, making it a perfect houseplant accordingly.
Instead of buying Norfolk Island pines as plants and nurturing them afterward, you can also consider growing the tree from a cutting.
You will need a 6 to 8 inch cutting from the pine’s growing tip. For the best result, cut one from the top of the tree instead of the side branches.
It will take around 2 to 3 months for your cutting to develop roots. After that, you can treat the Norfolk Island pine tree as a mature one.
Proper Norfolk Island Pine Care Indoors
This plant is not as hardy as the standard pine tree and the Norfolk Island Pine care is more similar to an orchid or gardenia.
Find a cool area that is far from heating vents and drafts. Thus, it is to situate your Norfolk Island pine inside the house.
Since the needles are fragile, you must keep the tiny pine away from touching walls and windows. You can also put your tree outside during summer in a shaded or sheltered location.
A pot without drainage holes cannot discharge excess water properly. So, you should not use such containers to plant your Norfolk Island pine indoors.
Norfolk Island Pine Fertilizer and Water Needs
In the spring and summer, you can feed your Norfolk Island pine tree with a liquid fertilizer every time you water it.
Meanwhile, it is not necessary to fertilize your pine tree with a water-soluble balanced fertilizer during fall or winter.
You should not overwater your Norfolk Island pine or provide the tree with too little water. Furthermore, this condition can lead to death.
Overwatering can make the needle-like leaves of the pine turn yellow and brown eventually. If you do not water it sufficiently, the tree will go brown entirely.
As a consequence, you should be able to find the right balance in watering your Norfolk Island pine. Try using your finger to test the soil and find out whether it requires extra water or not.
Once it is time to water the tree, you must perform this comprehensively. Then, make sure there is no excess water left in the pot as well as the saucer beneath it.
Humidity Requirement for Norfolk Island Pine Care
When growing an indoor Norfolk pine tree, you should not overlook the humidity level of its surrounding.
As a tropical plant, the Norfolk Island pine requires high humidity. By maintaining the moisture, your tree will be able to thrive more properly.
You can keep the humidity high by utilizing a humidifier in your room, especially during cold winter conditions.
Applying a pebble tray with water under the pot can help to maintain the humidity level as well. You can also perform a weekly misting to keep the Norfolk pine tree happy.
If the plant does not receive sufficient humidity, you may notice it having browning branches all over the tree.
This also hints that your pine may get overwatered or under-watered.
However, it is normal for your Norfolk pine tree to acquire some browning on the undersides of its branches.
Norfolk Island Pine Light Requirements
Another important part of Norfolk Island pine care is to make sure that the tree receives sufficient light to grow properly.
Your Norfolk pine tree requires a few hours of direct bright sunlight. Therefore, you should place it in a south-facing window.
Luckily, this plant can withstand full indirect light as well. So, you do not need to worry if you cannot provide the above light requirement.
Repotting Araucaria Heterophylla
You must repot your Norfolk Island pine tree every two or three years. When its roots start to grow out of the undersides of the container, you should immediately relocate the plant.
Moreover, when repotting, you should make sure that the soil mix is proper. Your Norfolk Island pine tree will appreciate it if you can mimic the dirt of its native environment.
Prepare a pot of rocky, well-drained soil to relocate your tree.
You may utilize potting mix designed for succulents since it is similar to what your Norfolk Island pine needs.
Instead, you can mix equivalent amounts of peat moss and hygienic potting soil. Then, introduce some perlite or sand for drainage purposes too.
Norfolk Island Pine Care Outdoor
While Norfolk Island pines are more popular as an indoor houseplant, it does not mean you cannot grow this tree outdoors.
This tree can grow well in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11. You can even expect the Norfolk pines to require low-maintenance when growing in such regions.
However, since Norfolk pine is not a cold-hardy variety, growing it outdoors all year round is not a wise decision in many parts of the country.
Tips to Grow Norfolk Pine Tree Outdoors
If you still want to grow your Norfolk pine tree outdoors, the following tips will help you get the most out of this outstanding plant.
- You must keep the pine away from cold breezes and never expose it to temperatures below 1 degree Celsius (35 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Consider using a moisture meter to monitor the dampness level of the soil, especially during drought conditions.
- When watering, let the soil dry slightly before you water the Norfolk Island pine tree thoroughly and deeply.
- Norfolk Island pine care does not include frequent pruning. You just need to remove dead or damaged branches if any since they will not grow back.
- If you live near the limits of the tree’s hardiness zone, consider giving the young Norfolk Island pine additional protection from the unseasonable cold.
Landscape-grown Norfolk Island pine trees do not require additional fertilizer and can do perfectly fine in poor soils.
However, if you grow an outdoor container-grown tree, it is necessary to provide the plant with fertilizer since it loses nutrients through watering.
You can take advantage of all-purpose fertilizer like 24-8-16 plant food and follow the label directions for applying the solution to your Norfolk Island pine trees.
If you are relocating an indoor-grown Norfolk pine tree to an outdoor area, do not move it at once. You must care for its leaves from the direct afternoon sun until the plant acclimates.
Norfolk Island Pine Diseases and Problems
Luckily, outdoor-grown Norfolk Island pine trees are rarely vulnerable to diseases and insects. You just need to provide the tree with the proper culture to prevent most plant issues.
Anthracnose and similar diseases may affect your Norfolk Island pine. So, make sure to avoid overhead watering to prevent this issue.
Norfolk leaves that remain too damp are susceptible to fungal diseases too.
You can improve the tree’s ability to fight the problem by enhancing air circulation around it and performing watering in the morning.
To prevent any disease, you should never leave your Norfolk Island Pine in soggy or water-logged soil too.
If you grow the tree in a container either outdoors or indoors, make sure to get one with sufficient drainage.
You should not use too much pesticide to maintain the population of beneficial insect predators. When the problem is getting severe, you better contact a professional to treat your Norfolk Island pines.
Since healthy Norfolk Island pine trees are more likely to survive minor infestations of pests and diseases, proper preventive care is very essential.
Finally, you should always perform the necessary Norfolk Island pine care to make sure your outstanding tree thrives happily and becomes free of diseases.