How Do I Care for a Small Norfolk Island Pine Tree?

Written by chris passas
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The Norfolk Island pine tree or Araucaria heterophylla is an evergreen conifer tree that looks similar to a Christmas tree. The growing season for the Norfolk Island pine is between spring and autumn while the tree is dormant in the winter. As an indoor houseplant, the Norfolk Island pine can reach a height of up to 6 feet. The most difficult aspect of caring for a Norfolk Island pine tree is maintaining adequate soil humidity.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Norfolk Island pine tree
  • Planting pot with drain pan
  • Loam-based soil
  • Rubber gloves
  • Rain water
  • Misting bottle
  • Complete balanced fertiliser
  • Pruning scissors
  • Natural insecticide (optional)
  • Rubbing alcohol (optional)
  • Horticultural oil (optional)

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  1. 1

    Wear rubber gloves when handling the Norfolk Island pine tree since the needles are sharp and touching them can cause an allergic reaction such as skin irritation in some people.

  2. 2

    Set the Norfolk Island pine in bright area of the house such as a countertop or table. Keep the Norfolk Island pine no closer than 5 feet from direct sunlight. The Norfolk Island pine tree bends toward light and overexposing part of it to direct sunlight will cause asymmetrical growth. Rotate the Norfolk Island pine tree once a week to ensure that one side of it does not receive more sunlight than the rest and to keep its shape symmetrical.

  3. 3

    Place the tree in an area of the house where the temperature is between 15.5 and 18.3 degrees C in the daytime during its growing season. At night, set the tree in an area where the temperature is near 10 degrees C. In the winter, keep the Norfolk Island pine in an area of the house that is between 4.44 and 10.0 degrees C during the day and evening.

  4. 4

    Use cool rain water to water the Norfolk Island pine tree as often as necessary to keep the soil moist. Allow the rain water to sit for at least 24 hours before use so it is free of gas. Empty the drain pan no more than 30 minutes after watering to avoid waterlogging the roots. Water the Norfolk Island pine tree at the same time every day, but do not allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Water less in the winter, but still enough to keep the soil moist.

  5. 5

    Mist the Norfolk Island pine daily using cool rain water since hard tap water can damage the tree's soft needles.

  6. 6

    Feed the Norfolk Island pine tree every month during the growing season with a complete balanced fertiliser. Do not fertilise the tree during its dormant season.

  7. 7

    Prune the needles of the Norfolk Island pine tree only to remove dead needles and branches. The Norfolk Island pine tree sheds some of its lower needles and branches as its grows, but they do not grow back or grow further after pruning.

  8. 8

    Repot the Norfolk Island pine tree at the beginning of the growing season every three to four years. Use a loam-based soil and a pot that allows adequate drainage.

Tips and warnings

  • Spray the Norfolk Island pine tree with a natural insecticide to eliminate infestations of mealy bugs. Apply rubbing alcohol or horticultural oil directly onto scale infestations at the branch nodes and leaf stems.

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