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Norfolk Island Pine Basic Plant Care

Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) is a common plant in warm, tropical climates. Norfolk Island Pine is a popular houseplant because it thrives in light, cool rooms. Named for the small South Pacific island on which it was first discovered in the 1700s, Norfolk Island Pine is commonly seen during the winter months as small tabletop Christmas trees. Another unique use for this popular plant is for bonsai, the Asian art of sculpting miniature trees.

Norfolk Island Pine Light Requirements:

Norfolk Island Pine requires ample light but never direct sunlight. As a houseplant, Norfolk Island Pine does very well in covered patios, sunrooms and other areas with a steadily cool temperature, full light to partial shade and good ventilation. Keep Norfolk Island Pine relatively cool in the summer (around 65oF) and warm in the winter (40-55oF). Limp branches are a common sign of over heating.

Norfolk Island Pine Water Requirements:

Norfolk Island Pine enjoys an evenly moist environment. Soil should be kept moist but well drained. Water the soil freely during the growing season but keep only slightly moist in the winter during the plant’s natural resting period. Spraying occasionally can also be helpful during growth. Take care not to over water plants as damage may occur. Limp branches are also a common sign of excessive watering.

Water Norfolk Island Pine regularly with soft lukewarm water as cool or cold water may shock young roots. Fill the watering vessel with tepid water or allow the water to stand openly until room temperature. This also allows any much of the chlorine in tap water to evaporate.

Norfolk Island Pine Fertilizer Requirements:

Apply a balanced (20-20-20) liquid fertilizer to Norfolk Island Pine every two (2) weeks during the growing period. In the summer, especially if grown outdoors, feed plants with an acid fertilizer such as rhododendron food as the high nitrogen concentration stimulates better foliage growth. Suspend fertilizing during the winter or reduce to less than the frequency of watering.

Norfolk Island Pine Pests & Diseases:

Norfolk Island Pine is susceptible to common houseplant pests such as mealybugs and scale insects. Pathogen affecting these plants may include bleeding cankers and needle necrosis. Needle necrosis is a deadening of the plant tissue caused by trauma, viral, or bacterial infection. These infections may occur after long periods of humidity or other factors and are typically easiest to recognize after the onset of needle necrosis causes leaves to change from healthy green colors to browns and yellows signifying death. Needle necrosis can only be resolved through pruning.

Norfolk Island Pine Propagation & Potting:

Allow potted plants to grow outdoors during the summer in an open but protected location in moderately fertile soil. Areas that are cool and ventilated with light shade are excellent for Norfolk Island Pine. For outdoor plants consider growing on a shady side of the house that receives bright light during the day. Do not grow in constant full or direct sunlight as overheating can dry the soil and cause foliage to wilt.

For indoor plants, use a soil-based potting mix. Repot Norfolk Island Pine every two to three (2-3) years to allow proper root growth. Plants will grow crooked if planted or kept in a corner.

Propagation is difficult even if high humidity is maintained. Prior to planting tip cuttings, treat the cuttings with rooting compound. Plant treated cuttings in warm soil (near 77oF, 25oC) .

Buy Norfolk Island Pine houseplants from your local florist