Houseplant Care Tips

Various Houseplant Care Tips Including Watering and Lighting Requirements.

Houseplant Care Tips

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Norfolk Island Pine Care

Norfolk Island PineCommon Name: Norfolk Island Pine
Scientific Name: Araucaria heterophylla
Lighting: Moderate
Watering: Moderate to Low

The Norfolk Island Pine makes a great addition to any decor because of its dwarf tree appearance. Plus, with tiered branches containing soft needles appearing like small brushes its appearance is appealing to many as a houseplant.

The Norfolk Island Pine prefers medium lighting so keep the plant within 5 - 8 feet of a window. The plant also prefers cooler household temperatures in general. Watering this houseplant is also quite simple. Water thoroughly once a week or when the soil becomes dry to touch and be sure to discard the extra water in the drain pan after a half hour or so. Also, I have found this houseplant prefers to be watered at the same time week after week. The Norfolk Island Pine also requires high humidity levels, so if humidity is low in your home, be sure to mist the plant with cool water at least once a week.

If the needles begin to fall, it may be 1 of many reasons. The first to check is that you are not over or under watering the plant. Secondly, be sure the pine is receiving enough sunlight, so you may want to try and move it closer to a window.

The Norfolk Island Pine is a medium to low maintenance houseplant, plus with its attractive appearance makes a great addition to any plant room. The only down side to this popular houseplant is that it is a slow grower so be sure to purchase the size you prefer.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Branches on mine norfolk pine are getting to long. Can I trimmit?

1:34 PM  
Blogger drayas said...


Typically pruning should be limited to removing dead branches only. If you trim off any branch tips you will cause asymmetrical growth, thus a trimmed branch will not grow anymore.

I don't have a lot of experience with Norfolk Island Pines. Can any readers provide any insight?


2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My norfolk is about 5' tall & only has branches up near the top. Is it possible to encourage growth on the lower half?

5:28 PM  
Blogger dannyboy said...

My Norfolk Island Pine tree is about 15 inches tall. It has stopped growing about 6 months ago. I have it in a 3 lbs. coffee can right now. What size pot should I have it in. The tree looks great but has stopped growing.

10:25 PM  
Blogger marilyn said...

I have a norfolk pine and all of a suddun the branches at the top seem to be drooping and drying out. What can I do? What am I doing wrong?

12:05 PM  
Blogger drayas said...


Usually drying out means you are not providing the plant with enough water. How often do you water your pine?

-- drayas

3:18 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

My 6 foot Norfolk pine has several basal stems and I am wondering whether I can thin them and how?

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My norfolk pine is drying out also and I have been using the aquaglobe in it. Is this a bad thing to do?

1:10 PM  
Blogger drayas said...


I have not heard much good about the Aqua Globes. Water the plant every week or so and see if it improves.


11:22 PM  
Blogger Virginia said...

Dear Sirs:
Is it possible to cut the Norfolk Pine and restart it? Mine is almost 6 feet tall, and will soon reach the ceiling. I have had it for five years and it was given to me when it was only 3 ft. tall.

7:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, I have a Norfolk that has done great outdoors on the porch all summer. I live in Tennessee and since we have had tems below freezing for a few nights in a row already, I decided to move the tree inside. I am noticing that the tips of the brances are all starting to turn yellow. I had noticed this before I moved it in but now it seems worse. I love this tree and don't want to lose. it. It has good soil, I just repotted about 3 weeks ago. Water seems right, light and indoor temps seem okay. Any suggestions? Also, would this tree survive if planted outdoors in the yard where I live in S.E. Tennessee? Thanks, ~Stace~

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard that the N.P. doesn't like being repotted. I wonder if it could be linked to that??


5:48 PM  
Blogger jasmin said...

I just purchased my norfolk pine today! And now that I know that I can keep it inside, I have another question! How will I know when and if it needs to be repotted? How can I tell? Like I said, I just got it today and it is really beautiful, and looks like it is about 3 and half feet tall now! And also, how often will I need to repot it? Any help will be much appreciated! THANKS SO MUCH!

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have found that they really don't like to be repotted to often. They can do well with a "crowded" root system. When you do repot I would say wait until spring or summer. It will put the tree into a mild state of shock. The warmer season will be better for it during the shock period. Remember, these trees are actually a tropical plant. They like it warm and a little humid. Hope this helps. Happy Holidays! ~Stace~

12:54 AM  
Blogger mike said...

I bought my Norfolk Pine two months ago and it is doing fantastic, I keep my house around 72 night and day and i water it once a week and every so often i will even put it in my bath tub or sink and use the shower or spray nozzle and soak it in water. But I always use a gentle spray and not the full pressure of the shower. then when it drains i move it back to a window on the side of my house where it gets at least 2 or 3 hours of direct sun light a day. I am going to move to a bigger pot but from past experience with other plants i have found the best time to do this is to wait till spring or summer. I do not dare attempt it at this time of year with low humidity in the air and the cold weather. I have seen people who have these plans u to 6 and 7 feet high. Can anyone tell me does the size of the pot keep the plant growth and size in check?

12:40 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

Mine has curled up on the end and looks droopy. I think I may have over watered it and it was outside for about a week. I didn't know how to care for it unitl now. Is there a way to save it?

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can try to save it by letting the soil dry out a bit. Place it in a nice sunny spot and wait to see what happens. There is a good chance your plant will make it. Time will tell. I have found my Norfolk Island Pine does best when I water it only when the soil becomes dry. I think it likes this better than a consistently wet soil. Good Luck!

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought a 2 foot Norfolk Pine during Christmas season as a door
"greeter" 9 Years ago. Since then I have kept it outside on our covered lanai (pool patio) and I have repotted it twice in those 9 years. On occassion I will add a few cups of miracle grow potting soil to the pot since the potting soil does break down after time and I feed it miracle grow regular fertilizer (liquid) ONLY 3 times a year. It is now almost 18 feet tall and its longest branches are about 4 feet long. It has been in the same 24 inch diameter plastic resin planter for the last few years so I am sure its root bound. It has almost reached the top of our pool screen enclosure and it has gotten full sun exposure for the last few years, so because of it's height it now has to go into the ground. I am waiting until February when temps are stable around mid 60-70 during the day. I live in Central Florida and many of my neighbors have done the same with their Christmas tree Norfolk's. It is a nice addition to the landscape and
breaks up the typical Oak tree pattern. Since this plant has always been outside I water it until soaking (the planter pot has drainage holes) only about once a week unless the weather gets above 90's then I water it every 5 days.
The tree is beautiful and I've never had a problem with it loosing limbs or needles. I can't wait to see it "grow up".

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Stace M Davis said...

I know what you mean. I am originally from South Florida (Palm Beach County) I live in Tennessee now. I remember seeing those growing so tall in peoples yards. Now for me it can only be a container plant but mine is doing great and talk about low maintenance! I tell people here in Tennessee about the wonderful gardening Florida has to offer (in most places and with work to get a good soil mix and not just sand) As I said I was in Palm Beach County and lived near Lake Okeechobee. We had the best soil there. What we called muck. Perfect soil. Alot of produce and sugar cane are grown there. I remember seeing Crotons that had grown into trees. Nothing like that here in Tennessee. Atleast with the tropicals anyway. Was glad to see your post on the Norfolks. It's been some time since there has been a new post. Thanks. Merry Christmas to you. ~Stace~ Tennessee

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading your blog. I found a lot of useful information and very detailed.

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My NFP is only about 24 inches tall and is kept on a table about 4 ft. from the window. It has a waxy substance on some of the stems!??

11:31 AM  
Blogger antmn said...

any help please, i havent seemed to find what works. i cut three of my norfolks stocks because they were dying, i didnt realize that your not suppose to because they never grow back. hes now about four years old and is very dry and bare on the bottom (wont seem to grow anything) but the top is the only part that does, just grows out like a funny hair dew.
i moved this last year to california, so i dont know if the dryness in the air is making, it so he doesnt seem to get better. i just want to know if theres a chance hell make it, or is this just a steady decline :/ ? any advice please?

5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my norfolk pine is 40 plus years old and now it puts new limbs on top and drops the bottom one?? It has done this for years. Seems healthy otherwise. It been a slow grower so it is now 4 ft. or so.

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of my branches are dried and brittle. I do not see any new growth. Any suggestions?

8:13 PM  
Anonymous lollyrain said...

lolllyrain from new mexico.received a a nfp in a small pot from our local flower shop. It's in a samll pot with very little soil in it,feels sandy, with some potting soil. will this small pot accominate this utterly beautiful 4 foot plant? Happy Holidays to all

12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would advise you to re-pot it. The plants tend to grow slow as far as the roots go but I would give it a good pot and some fresh soil since it's just come to you from the flower shop. Best wishes for a Happy Holiday! ~Stace~

1:29 PM  
Blogger blackdruidwolf said...

I had a NIP years ago and killed it... I stayed away since then because they are so beautiful I didn't want to kill another one. Recently my new landlord gave us one *gasp!* I am so afraid but am glad I found this forum. It was fine until recently when it started showing those same tell tale signs of drying branches... I removed all the dead branches gently that didn't have a chance in returning, left the yellowing ones hoping they return, moved the plant further from the heater, watered it yesterday and gave it a mist today. I was doing regular weekly 1/4 turns and only watering once a week. I'm hoping I can save it! Am going to try these tips I've read here and will post an update in a week or two. Any other advice I would love to hear! I'm also wondering if it needs a more suitable pot... also it has silver sparkles that have been sprayed on it's branches... is that bad? The pot it's in is just a bucket type of pot that doesn't have any drainage holes... should I repot it gently into one that can drain?

6:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have two Norfolk Pine trees and left them out below freezing this pass winter. Can they br saved and how?

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got a NIP on sale after Christmas. It too had the silver sparkles sprayed all over it. I noticed the branches drying out and becoming brittle and thought the sparkle spray may be the culprit. I thoroughly sprayed all the branches hoping to rinse the sparkles off and it seemed to do the trick. There is LOTS of new growth, the plant is brighter green, and the branches aren't drying out anymore. So, my opinion is those sparkles are bad. :)

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Kikkertje said...

Hello, I recently rescued(yes rescued) a NIP it's about 4 feet tall and isn't in very good condition one stalk has nice green needles but it very droopy the others are pretty much naked. Should it be able to stand on it's own without bamboo sticks in a healthy state? and can I get the other stalks to get needles again? any input would be very appreciated as this is my first NIP and I don't want to lose it. Thank you in advance

6:05 PM  
Blogger SKJ said...

Have had my NIP for 7 years or so. Recently moved and left it with my daughter for about 4 months. Just picked it up and it looks like it is dying. I don't think she watered it much aat all. Branches are drooping and turning yellow. Can it be saved and how? This tree was from my grandfathers funeral so would really like to save if possible. Any help?

11:33 PM  
Anonymous Sharon said...

I've been wondering if I should put tiny Christmas lights on my four foot tall tree in December or not? I'm wondering if the small lights might be too hot for it. I put mine outdoors in the summer here in KC, then back in during the winter months. I watered mine once too much last year before leaving for vacation and it didn't seem to like it, but looks healthy otherwise after dropping a couple or limbs.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We did put some small Christmas lights on our NFP last holiday season and it didn't hurt it one bit. It was very beautiful. Ours is now about five feet tall. We have it in a sunroom by an east window and it does very well there. I top dress the soil with worm castings about twice a year. It is a beautiful plant.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can these plants live outside in Arizona. ?
Either planted or on a Coverd porch ?

10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Norfolk is doing well, and has little ones growing in the same pot. Are these separate from the big one? They are about 1 to 3 feet. There is about 4 of them. The original tree is about 5 feet tall. Can the smaller ones be separated safely from the taller one and put in their own pots? Are they all connected by the same root system? They don't seem too crowded. They all have new growth from being out this summer. If they can safely be separated, then should I wait till they reach a certain height? Thank-you

7:23 PM  
Anonymous Wendi said...

I have had a NFP ten years, and it suffered from neglect the first 5 years, as we were having a new house built. I noticed one day the poor plant's pot was tilted, and had been for quite a while. It had a new growth on the side of the root area, which I salvaged, sacrificing the old part. I transplanted the new growth, with more potting soil, standing it upwright in the pot. It has been outside all summer in semi-shade. I don't worry about how often it gets rained on, because it is in a pot on a stand, and drains very well. It is now about 3 feet tall and absolutely beautiful. We are in N.E. Texas.

6:12 PM  
Anonymous Reba said...

I found all this Info online trying to find out anything I could about these wonderful trees. A neighbor when he moved gave me a 15 year old tree, I had a two story great room it grew all the way up. I tied it to my staircase to keep it straight. I asked him what his secret was because I also had to give it away when I moved. But I'm trying to get one too grow fast. He said buy the biggest pot you can and layer rock on the bottom, a layer of potting soil, rock and another layer. It will make your pot very heavy
Just so u don't have to repot . He also seperated it so that
It was one single stalk I decorated it at Christmas. I think I'm going to break down and buy a bigger one this year so I don't have to wait so long for it to grow

8:59 PM  
Blogger Kirsten mc said...

I just bought a Norfolk Island Pine which is about 12 inches tall. It also has about 5 trunks closely planted together forming one tree. My question is whether or not to separate them. Would I kill it if I separated them? How do I separate them? and when is the best time to do so?
From PA

7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought my norfolk as a live xmas tree and its been great. All of a sudden the needles on some branches are turning extremely brittle and I can break the branches off. What might be the trouble. Other tips are light green and look like they are new growth. Please help before the plant dies.

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Kim from NY said...

I have had my NIP since November 2012. It is a bit dry in my house and I didn't realize they liked it humid. The needles are no longer soft, they are very hard and they break off. Can I save it? I fell in love with it and don't want to lose it! It did get pretty dry once but has been kept watered since. PLEASE HELP!! THANKS!

10:42 AM  
Blogger Rolfe Jameria said...

I am finding the the NIPs are rather sensitive indoor houseplants for northern gardeners. Probably very different for people in subtropical Florida. One thing I would say is that all potted plants need hole in the bottom for drainage. Also it looks like the NIPs like more water than what I would think. Mine has gotten some dried branches, which isn't good. It seems to be responding well to more watering (but only once a week).

7:21 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

Hello I just reveived a sad Norfolk that is about 8 or 9 feet tall. Very little branches mostly at top and dry. I do not know the history of watering as I acquired it from my husbands office the boss wanted it gone. SO can I prune the dead branches off which will leave it with none, they are all at the top and will it sprout more? Should I repot it, it seems to be in a smallish pot or is that too much at one time. I want to try to revive this tree.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Noor Shaikh said...

How to take plant care during holidays? Choose the pots; make sure there are holes in the bottom of your container to allow water to flow out freely, etc.

8:26 AM  
Anonymous Ed Jensen said...


Help, I've had a NIP pine for 25+ yrs, its 9-10" tall and am accustomed to it dropping some finger/needles/branches as the tree grows and has new canopy; however those were dried up, fallen off and prickly to the touch. As of late I'm finding many/many needles have fallen off that are still green and soft to the touch...nothing in my environment has changed in 2.5 yrs. Is anyone familiar with any type of infestation (possibly from another plant introduced to the house) that would cause such behavior...thank you

3:10 PM  

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