The Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) is a warm-climate, evergreen tree native to eastern Australia. They can grow up to 200 feet tall in the wild, according to an article by Sandy Feather, a horticulturist with Penn State University. In the United States, however, Norfolk pines are sold and marketed as indoor potted plants, especially during the holidays. Norfolk pines are slow-growing and can thrive indoors if careful attention is given to the plant.
Light and Temperature
Norfolk pine plants need at least a few hours of bright sunlight each day. Morning sun is best, as the intense rays of the afternoon sun can sometimes scorch the foliage. Set the tree in an east-facing window, and turn the pot every week so that each side of the tree will face the sun. Maintain daytime temperatures in the low 70s Fahrenheit, with a drop of about 10 degrees at night.
Keep the soil of your pine tree moist, but not soggy. The top inch or two of soil should be allowed to dry out before you water it again. Water until the liquid drains freely out of the bottom of the pot. Remove the water from the water catch-tray once the plant has stopped draining. If the roots sit in water, they can begin to rot. Or better yet, remove the water catch-tray place the pine tree in a bathtub and let the water drain into the tub. Use water that has been brought to room temperature, not cold water.
Norfolk island pines thrive in humid air. Unfortunately, most homes do not have air that comes close to the 50 percent humidity required for these plants. Add moisture to the air near your plant by running a humidifier next to it. Or, for a less noisy option, place the pot on top of a tray filled with pebbles and water. Make sure the pot is touching the pebbles and not the water. The water will evaporate and provide some humidity to the air around the pine. If you have other houseplants, grouping them together will also help increase the percentage of humidity in the air.
Fertilize your Norfolk pine starting each spring with a balanced, (10-10-10) water-soluble fertilizer formulated for indoor, evergreen plants. Fertilize according to the size of your plant as per the instructions on the fertilizer. Make sure the soil is wet before you feed the plant, and stop fertilizing in September so that the tree can go through a dormant period during the winter.
Norfolk pine plants are slow-growing, but eventually they will need transplanting. Watch for the roots to start growing out of the bottom of the container. When this happens, choose a container the next size up (or at least 2 inches larger in area). The pot should be deeper than wide. Use a soil that is well-draining. A good potting soil mixed with equal amounts of peat moss and sand works well. Carefully remove the tree from the old container. Shake the excess soil off the roots and plant it in the new container, packing the new soil around the roots. Water well after planting.