The Norfolk Island Pine is an evergreen ornamental plant that is native to tropical Norfolk Island located in the South Pacific, between Australia and New Zealand. Scientifically known as Araucaria heterophylla, it is a coniferous houseplant that will stick with you through many years if you make sure to nurture it well.
Though termed as a pine plant, Norfolk Island pine isn’t a pine at all. It’s a narrow-leaf plant with a plethora of needle-like, dark green leaves arrayed along the stems. The tiered side branches scatter throughout the central stem at a wide-angle, giving it a layering look.
Small potted Norfolk Island pine is ideal for decorating mantles and tabletops. Once grown to a good height, they can be displayed as floor plants. This houseplant requires minimal care for sufficient growth and quality foliage. Let’s have a look at its basic care techniques:
A Norfolk Island Pine can conform to low, medium, or bright light but works best in bright light. As a houseplant, it should be placed in a spot within four feet of a large south, east, or west-facing window and must receive as much light as possible.
As an outdoor plant, it should be placed in a spot where direct bright light is available. Pine can also adapt to artificial light conditions- fluorescent lights can help it thrive just fine.
Araucaria heterophylla is somewhat drought-tolerant but despises standing in water. However, extreme parchedness can cause the tips of its branches to turn brown or yellow.
Water it only when the top inch or so of the soil appears dry. This can be tested by pushing your finger into the soil till your first knuckle. If the grounds seem dry, water your pine. Make sure the soil isn’t wet all the time; otherwise, this can encourage root rot.
Temperature and Humidity
Norfolk pines can thrive in average household temperatures of 65°F-85°F (18°C-30°C). Avoid placing them in extreme hot or cold temperatures. Also, keep them away from heating or cooling vents and from drafty doors or windows.
Your Norfolk Island pine prefers high humidity. Therefore, make sure to daily mist the plant or put it in a pebble tray to keep the ambient moisture levels high, especially in the winter seasons.
Feed your Norfolk Pines once a month in the growing summer and spring seasons with a general-purpose fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength. As houseplants, it’s not fussy about being fertilized- once or twice a year would do the trick or more if you want it to grow faster.
Norfolk Island pine is a mildly toxic plant. This toxicity comes in action when cats and dogs ingest their needles in large amounts, leading to mouth and stomach irritation together with vomiting. Thus, keep it away from the reach of pets and children.
According to the NASA Air-Clean study, Araucaria heterophylla is included amongst the best indoor air purifiers to exist. It filters out harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from the air, hence purifying it.
Norfolk Island pine is a late bloomer that takes quite some time to grow. Thus, repot your plant every other year instead of every year. Transfer it to a pot and add peaty, sandy potting mix that is slightly acidic. Make sure the new soil is heavy enough to provide abundant weight to keep the plant upright.
If you want your plant to grow faster, place it outside in a shaded or partially shaded spot during the summer while ensuring the winter frost has completely left. Bring it back inside before the first frost in fall.
Norfolk Island pine keepers suffer from several issues if they cannot meet their temperature and water requirements. Overwatering it can cause the stems to rot and become yellow. Low humidity and inadequate light can make its needles wilt or drop.
Norfolk Island pine is vulnerable to aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, and scales, which can be treated by frequently spraying water mixed with Neem oil on the plant and regularly rinsing it till the infestation is removed.
An easy to nurture plant that can be placed indoors and outdoors, Norfolk Island pine, is also pleasing to look at its unique sharp needles and evergreen beauty. The only way you can keep your pine happy is by following the aforementioned nurturing methods.