Norfolk Island Pines


Araucaria heterophylla



Contents

  1. Top Tips
  2. Location, Water, Humidity & Fertilisation
  3. Common Issues
  4. Origins, Temperature, Propagation, Repotting & Toxicity




Top Tips & Info

  • Care Difficulty - Easy
  • Allow the soil's top third to dry out in between waters, reducing this slightly further in the autumn and winter months.
  • Provide a bright setting with two hours of morning/evening sunlight. 
  • Norfolk Pines accept average room humidity, so artificial humidifiers aren't wholly necessary.
  • Supplement the soil at monthly intervals using a 'houseplant' labelled fertiliser.
  • Mould development on the soil's top layer is a clear sign of over-watering and too-low light.
  • Transplant biannually into the next-sized pot with a 'houseplant' potting-mix, along with extra grit to the pot's lower half and compost to strengthen the root ball.




Location & Light - πŸ”ΈπŸ”ΈπŸ”Έ

A location with around two hours of morning or evening sun is the ideal setting for this species. Although direct sunlight is quite beneficial for this pine, over-exposure will result in sun-scorch that'll considerably weaken the plant over time. Avoid situating one in an overly shady location that's several metres from a window. If you're worried about its location being too dark, if a newspaper can be read while having your back towards the light source, you're good to go.

A room that offers a few hours of either morning or evening sun is vital for good, quality growth; examples of this are near to a south-facing window, or in a conservatory. Avoid locating the pine more than four metres away from a north-facing window to downplay the risk of over-watering.


Water - πŸ”ΈπŸ”Έ

Allowing the soil's top third to dry out in between waters is vital to avoid falling in the trap of under-watering. Once the pot feels light when lifted, compared to when you last watered it, this is the best time to irrigate. Under-watering symptoms include curling or crispy spines, wilted foliage, yellow or brown lower spines and stunted growth. Only allow the majority of the soil to become dry when the plant is serving its dormancy period, and never in full growth. Over-watering symptoms include yellowing or browning spines, stunted growth and wilting. If this has happened to your specimen, increase the intensity light somewhat with fewer irrigations; if stem's base has fully softened over, this will spell the end of its life. Over-watering is commonly caused by too little light or heat, or a lack of dry soil in between irrigations.


Humidity - πŸ”ΈπŸ”Έ

An average level of humidity is more than enough to occupy a Norfolk Pine, as over-humidification and poor air circulation may result in soil mould. If it's located within three metres of an operating radiator, mist the foliage weekly or introduce a pebble tray to keep life manageable.


Fertilisation - πŸ”Έ

Supplement every two to four weeks during the spring and summer, and monthly for the rest of the year. The best feeds are those that favour nitrogen & phosphorus over potassium - BabyBio or Miracle-Gro is ideal, but a seaweed-based fertiliser is also good. Try not to over-supplement the soil due to the species' sensitive nature to the sharp chemicals.




Common Issues with Norfolk Pines

Over-watering is the biggest issue with pines. Although moist soil is vital to maintain good health, overly saturated soil will increase the chance of root rot. Allow the top third of the soil to become dry in between irrigations and try to use lukewarm water to avert shocking the tender root systems. Typical signs of over-watering include yellow or brown lower spines, stunted growth and a softened stem. During the colder months, reduce the frequency of waters considerably until the following spring to replicate its dormancy.

Too little light should be avoided as Norfolk Pines are exposed to sunlight in their natural environment. The ideal location in the home would be within a few metres of a window or in a semi-shaded conservatory. Never situate it in more than a few hours of direct sunlight as it'll lead to sun-scorch. If you're scared that the location is too dark, if a newspaper can be read when facing away from the light, you're good to go!

Lower needle loss or browning is typically caused by too little moisture but can be the result of other factors. Although Norfolk pines can withstand brief periods of dryness, they cannot tolerate persistent droughts under any circumstances. As soon as the branches begin to wilt, the soil must be saturated immediately to avoid the browning of its foliage. Apart from this, over-watering may be the cause. Only allow the top third of the soil to become dry before giving it another water -never saturate the soil unnecessarily as this could lead to root rot. The final reason is because of too low humidity. Norfolk Pines need to have a moist surrounding to thrive. Placing it within three metres of an operating radiator can quickly lead to the browning of the foliage, especially when the soil is too dry. For those displaying signs of this, remove the affected areas and relocate it to a more pine-friendly setting that consists of a splash of sun, moist air and good soil moisture. 

Mould developing on the soil means two things - too little light and over-watering. Despite the harmlessness of the mould, it'll prove unsightly to most gardeners and is therefore removed once known. To remove, replace the top two inches of the soil for a fresh batch of houseplant compost. Either increase the amount of light received (no direct sunlight for the first few weeks to prevent environmental shock) or decrease the frequency of waters slightly. If the mould is accompanied by yellowing lower leaves, you may also have a case of root rot.




Origins

The Norfolk Island Pine was first described back in the 1780s by Richard Salisbury, during Captain Cook's second voyage to the pacific. It was placed initially in the Eutassa genus but was subsequently changed by João Manuel Antonio Franco in the 1950s. The eighteenth-century expedition proved successful in the world of indoor horticulture, as Kentia Palms were also first noted during this trip, signalling the start of a demand for Pacific plants. At first, there were hopes of a potential Araucaria timber industry in the islands; however, British convicts soon realised it wasn't resilient enough for the proposed idea.


Distribution of Araucaria heterophylla in the Norfolk Islands.



Temperature

8° - 25°C   (46° - 78°F).
H1c  (Hardiness Zone 11)  - can be grown outdoors between late spring and summer throughout most of the UK while nighttime temperatures are above 8℃ (46℉). If you decide to bring the plant outdoors, don't allow it to endure more than an hour of direct sunlight a day as it may result in sun-scorch. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, especially when re-introducing back indoors. 


Spread

Up to 1.6m in height and 1.2m in width. The ultimate height will take around 10 years to achieve, with 15cm of growth developed per season.


Pruning

Hard pruning should be avoided at all costs due to the species' poor ability to bounce back. It also isn't advised to cut the stem back to reduce the overall height because of this issue. If the needles start to yellow or brown, cut the affected areas off with a clean pair of scissors and always perform a clean incision.


Propagation

Norfolk Pines can be propagated via 12cm stem cuttings in early spring. Take lateral growths that have a slightly wooded base, but still juvenile to bend. Be sure to use a clean pair of scissors or secateurs, empathising a clean cut to avoid damaging the wound. Remove the bottom half of the needles and dip the wound in rooting hormone and position them vertically half-deep in a sandy, well-draining potting mix. The ideal compost is a houseplant potting mix, but multipurpose soil with some added grit and perlite is also acceptable. Provide a warm location  (20°C, 67°F) that offers high humidity and bright, indirect light. It's important to have a good level of humidity by placing the cuttings and their pots in a plastic bag to reduce the amount of water-loss via respiration in the needles. Open the bag every few days for an hour to avoid the spread of bacteria that can destroy a whole batch. Remove any dead or decaying matter and avoid water-logging or persistent droughts at all costs. Once the cuttings have 2cm roots, safely place them in 7cm pots that have adequate drainage; the rooting process can take around two months with new foliar buds taking even longer.


Repotting

Repot biannually in spring using a houseplant-labelled and the next sized pot with adequate drainage. Hydrate the plant 24hrs before the tinkering with the roots to prevent the risk of transplant shock. For those that are situated in a darker location, add a thin layer of small grit in the pot's base to improve drainage and downplay over-watering. Click here for a detailed step-by-step guide on transplantation, or via this link to learn about repotting with root rot.

If you're still unsure of what to do, never hesitate to send us an email or direct message to get our expert advice on transplantation.


Pests & Diseases

Keep an eye out for thrips, aphids, mealybugs, root mealybugs and scale. Common diseases with Norfolk Pines are root rot, leaf-spot disease, botrytis (grey mould) and powdery mildew. Most diseases are caused by excess moisture in the soil or on the foliage; maintain dry needles and always avoid water-logging for best results. Click here to learn more about these issues.


Toxicity

This plant is classified as mildly toxic. If parts of the plants are eaten, vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite could occur. Consumption of large quantities must be dealt with quickly; acquire medical assistance for further information.


Retail Locations

IKEA,  Dobbies & Online Stores.



If you need further advice with indoor gardening, never hesitate to send us an email or direct message via the Instagram Page. This could be about your own specific plant, transplantation into a bigger pot, pests or diseases, terrarium ideas, & more!


Comments
* The email will not be published on the website.