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


The Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla) is native to the Norfolk Island in the Pacific Ocean. In its native habitat, the Norfolk Island pine grows more than 60 feet tall with large branches from the ground up. As an indoor plant, the Norfolk Island pine will grow as tall as space and conditions permit; in fact, most Norfolk Island pines die when they eventually outgrow their space and are placed outdoors, where they succumb quickly to freezing temperatures. Norfolk Island pines are part of the Araucariaceae family and not really a pine, but like a pine, the limbs and foliage do not regenerate after pruning.

Step 1

Plant the Norfolk Island pine in a container that does not leave more than 2 inches of unused soil around the root base of the plant. Unused potting soil tends to stay moist and rot. This can affect the plant's health; the Norfolk Island Pine prefers well-drained soil. When repotting, use new fresh potting soil and disturb the roots of the plant as little as possible.

Step 2

Water the Norfolk Island pine when the top inch of the soil is dry. Place your finger into the soil to test for the moisture level. Do not overwater, which can cause limbs and leaves to turn yellow and fall off or die; they will never regrow, leaving the plant lopsided or uneven. Mist the plant once a week to keep the humidity level high. While Norfolk Island pines like their roots on the dry side, they don't mind high humidity levels.

Step 3

Locate the plant in as bright an area inside the home as possible, but not in an area where there is more than two hours of direct sun a day. Direct sun can dry out the leaves and cause them to turn brown. In the summer, you can place the plant outside in the shade if the right amount of moisture and humidity is present. The Norfolk Island pine cannot be left outside to fend for itself in hot, dry summer temperatures.

Step 4

Fertilize every eight to 10 weeks with a half-strength solution of water-soluble fertilizer appropriate for house plants. Do not overfertilize or you can damage the plant's tender roots. Only fertilize after soaking the root base with fresh water.

Things You'll Need

  • Norfolk Island pine
  • Well-draining planting container
  • Water soluble houseplant fertilizer
  • New potting soil


  • Purdue Extension: Norfolk Island Pine Needs TLC
  • Plant Care: Norfolk Island Pine
Keywords: Norfolk pine, Norfolk Island pine, house plants, Norfolk pine care

About this Author

Based in Rockdale Texas, Jim Gober has been writing garden-related articles for 25 years. His articles appear in several Texas newspapers including The Rockdale Reporter, The Lexington Leader, The Cameron Herald and The Hearne Democrat. He is a Master Gardener and Certified Texas Nursery and Landscape Professional. He holds bachelor degrees in English Writing from St. Edward's University and Finance from Lamar University.