The Norfolk Pine is a popular tree for people to buy during the holiday season and use as a live Xmas tree. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this because this tree is quite sensitive. The lights bring extra warmth that would stress the tree. Additionally, the weight of ornaments may be too heavy for the branches.
In the wild these trees can get up to 80′ tall! You’ll notice them in many botanical gardens. I’ve seen them in Hawaii where they get very tall. I wish I had taller ceilings to allow this tree to grow even more. They are not what you would consider a pine tree and instead, are tropical trees that enjoy humidity and warmth.
I always keep a humidifier underneath it as this is a tropical plant and prefers humidity. Ensure you keep it always moist. Use a mister to spray once a day or as often as you can remember. I keep some water in the saucer because my house is very dry but, if you start getting yellow needles then ensure that after you water the plant you empty the water from the tray. Try adding moss on top of the soil to hold more moisture. Keep a watch for mold build up or fungus and discard infected moss. See picture below for the humidifier and moss I use to keep it moist. I also spray at least weekly with a water mister. Ensure you feed soluble fertilizer
I found my tree off craigslist from a person moving and couldn’t take the tree with him. I got it for $40 and this tree is taller than me. It stood at over 5 feet tall with the pot. It leaned heavily to one side. Turn the pot 1/4 turn every 2 weeks to keep it straight and prevent it from leaning.
This is a bit of a finicky plant and not the easiest to care for. Be careful of drafts – I moved it for a few months to see if it would prefer a little more sun but, placed it under where the heater blew directly on. I ended up losing an entire branch and several other stems. The norfolk pine suffered from the heated, dry air directly blown on it. I moved it back to it’s original spot where it’s receives some direct light though mostly indirect and little to no breeze from the a/c or heat. It prefers no air on it directly and needs humidity as well as bright light. If you want to move the tree, then gradually move it to the new location because it does not like much change.
Once a branch or stem falls off, it will not grow back and you’re left with a gap where it once had the stem. You can see from this picture below where my cats decided to play break-the-tree and broke off several pieces. Also, beware of pruning because once you cut it, it isn’t growing back.
To repot this tree, you must be very careful as this is a very sensitive tree to it’s environment and is easily stressed. Be warned though, this tree is very sensitive so, if you decide to repot, only do so every 3 years or so and only in the spring. Water thoroughly before repotting and if your tree is as big as this one, you may need assistance in getting it repotted due to the size and weight. Use soil with some sand and rock mixed that allows it to drain well but also hold some moisture. Cactus or succulent soil mix is a good alternative.
Hopefully, before you decide to buy this cute tree for xmas, you read a bit about how to care for a Norfolk Island Pine and decide whether you want such a touchy plant. I often get comments from guests asking if this tree is fake or real. Maybe because of how unique looking it is to have in a house and how bright green it is. It’s a very pretty, flowing tree but, beware of it’s sensitivity!!