Visit most stores over the holidays and you’ll notice diminutive evergreen Norfolk Island pines (Araucaria heterophylla) for sale in abundance. Many people purchase the trees as holiday decorations or to replace the standard cut or fake Christmas tree.
After the holidays wind to a close, you can keep the tree indoors as a valued houseplant or if you live in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11 then you can plant the tree outdoors where it will flourish and often attain a height of 200 feet.
Often called the star pine, the Norfolk heralds from the South Pacific where it grows wild on the small island of New Caledonia. When grown outdoors, they are forgiving and can even tolerate bouts of drought when fully established.
Planting the Norfolk Pine Outdoors
You’ll want to pick a planting location outdoors that is in full sun. The tree prefers moderately moist and porous sandy soil. When planting add peat moss to the soil to help improve its porosity and increase acidity, if needed. Keep the soil moist but not overly waterlogged until the plant establishes itself.
As mentioned, the Norfolk pine prefers full sun, but it can withstand dimmer conditions. If you live in a location that suffers from cold winters, then you can keep the Norfolk indoors in a sunny location and then move the potted plant outdoors during the summer months.
One way to tell if your Norfolk pine might not be receiving sufficient light is if it grows long and lanky - stretching upwards to reach the light. A leggy Norfolk can also mean that you are using too much fertilizer which is encouraging weak growth.
Soil and Water
An acid loving plant, the Norfolk grows well in a peat based potting mixture. To increase acidity, you can add peat moss around the plant when the old starts to break down.
The Norfolk can tolerate salt which makes it a popular plant in coastal areas. Water the plant once every week or two when kept indoors as a houseplant. Allow the water to drain out of the pot. Do not let the plant sit in the water or it could lead to root rot.
Temperature and Humidity
As a native of the South Pacific, the Norfolk Pine likes warmer, wet climates with a temperature that hovers from 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The plant can easily survive temperatures that dip down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit or slightly lower. To maintain the humidity around the plant, mist it regularly.
Propagation of the Norfolk Pine
The Norfolk Island pine is classified as a gymnosperm. It contains both female and male reproductive organs. The plant grows well from seeds but does not grow from a cutting.
Use a liquid nutrient solution during the growing season to meet the needs of the Norfolk pine. During periods of low light, abstain from fertilizing the plant.
When the Norfolk pine is young it has a weak root system. To stabilize and strengthen its roots, you’ll need to start a nutrient regime to encourage healthy growth.
Contact Humboldts Secret Supplies to learn more about the nutrients needed to keep your Norfolk pine healthy and thriving year-round.