Indoor Living Pine Tree
By Doug Hackbarth
Broadview Florist & Greenhouses
Norfolk Island Pines, Araucaria heterophylla, are one of the “easiest to grow” house plants and makes a perfect Christmas gift, especially if decorated with little red bows and perhaps, lights. If planted in the ground in its tropical native land of Norfolk Island, somewhere between New Caledonia and Australia, the N.I.P. (Norfolk Island Pine) could reach a height of 80 feet. But contained in a 4”, 6” or 10” pot, the N.I.P. will remain at a reasonable size for many years.
Temperatures maintained in most homes will be perfect for the N.I.P. however slightly cooler temperatures of around 65 degrees during the day and 58 degrees at night would be even better. Place in a location with very bright light about 4 feet from the window. Turn the plant occasionally to keep it from pointing in one direction. Allow your N.I.P. to dry out completely between waterings, especially during the winter months. Fertilize only in the spring and summer.
Brown tips form when there is a lack of humidity. Misting with cool water is helpful as is a humidifier in the same room. Pruning off the brown tips is the only pruning that should ever be done to a N.I.P. as where ever you prune…growth will stop. N.I.P. do not like to be repotted so do not repot yours unless it is totally root bound.
Decorating a N.I.P. can be fun and your tree will take up very little space. Simply start with little bows, usually red and maybe some small Christmas tree ornaments. Do not use large or heavy ornaments, as the branches are not that strong. Later, before Christmas, you could add a few lights. Remove the lights after the first of the year as they could dry out the plants growing tips. A small tree could be placed on a table near the window for people driving by to see.