Norfolk Island Pine Plant Care Guide

Difficulty Level: Modest

What is the Norfolk Island Pine?

The Norfolk Island Pine is the common name for Araucaria heterophylla and is surprisingly not a true pine at all but actually an evergreen conifer. This triangular tree with its sparsely spaced branches and tall straight trunk originated on Norfolk Island, as its name implies. Norfolk Island is located in the South Pacific Ocean near New Zealand. This stoic and steadfast tree was first discovered by Captain James Cook during an expedition in the 1700s.

The Norfolk Pine was soon cultivated and grown outdoors as an ornamental in subtropical climates such as Hawaii and South Florida. Its saplings have now become very popular and are known as the other living Christmas tree. These hearty trees bring a convenient touch of cheer to holiday decor around the world. They can be decorated with lightweight ornaments for the Christmas season, but the best part is that the joy has just begun. That being said, you probably won’t find a Norfolk Island Pine for sale at a Christmas tree lot.

These trees are relatively adaptable to a variety of climates and will grow for years to come if given just a little tender loving care. This plant grows best with medium-light exposure and it prefers bright indirect light.  It can also tolerate a couple of hours of direct sunlight per day. If you’d like to give your plant a little extra boost during the summer months, some people move their Norfolk Pines outdoors to a shaded or partially spot. This can result in a luscious burst of new growth.  If this lovely plant does not receive enough sunlight it may lose fullness and become weak or frail. In addition, if this plant is lacking light (artificial or natural) it may start to thin out and lean towards the sun, straying from its characteristically straight truck feature.

Light CareLight Care

Norfolk Pine is an easy plant to take care of. One of the things that people love about this plant is that it is highly adaptive and can survive in a variety of light settings. That being said, your Norfolk Pine will thrive if you keep it in bright, indirect sunlight. Instead of placing this plant on the window sill, we recommend keeping it in a part of the room that is near a window and has plenty of light but is not in direct sunlight. Light care for this plant is easy, but it is important that you make the effort to find a place in your home or office that has an appropriate amount of light.

Water CareWater Care

This lovely plant should be watered when the top layer of soil becomes dry to the touch. This normally means watering your tree about once a week, but this can vary spending on the climate where you live. Use enough water to moisten, but not so much as to completely wet the soil. It is important to note that the roots of this plant will rot if saturated with water for too long. Be sure to keep your plant in a pot that drains water. If the tips of the branches are crunchy and begin to turn from green to brown, this is most likely due to underwatering. If green needles fall off the plant this is often caused by overwatering. Norfolk Island pine care is fairly straightforward, but it is certainly something you should stay on top of!

Food GuideFood Guide

Fertilizer can be used to give your Norfolk Island pine a burst of energy and help boost its growth rate during the spring and summer months. Feed your Norfolk Island Pine once or twice monthly with either a water-soluble or liquid plant food. It is best to prepare the fertilizer at half of the recommended concentration. During the winter months, the growth rate of the Norfolk island pine is naturally stunted anyways, so it is not necessary to provide any plant food at this time. You don’t want your plant to remain a Norfolk Island Pine Bonsai, so make sure to keep it well fed!

Staff Holy Grail Tip:

The Norfolk Island Pine is a slow-growing tree that actually prefers to be slightly root-bound. With that being said it is not actually necessary to repot this plant every year as you would need to do with so many other houseplants. You can get away with repotting your Norfolk Island Pine approximately once every four years. When repotting, be sure to choose a pot that is only slightly bigger (by about one inch) than the previous pot. Also, remember to be gentle because the roots of the Norfolk pine can be delicate.