On a wintry day, when it so cold outside, the Norfolk Island Pine exudes a lot of warmth inside. This seventeen-year-old plant quietly warms up the light and bright family room of my neighbor's home. My neighbors received this as a housewarming gift and it has done it's job well for them. The neighbors have done their part as well and cared for it beautifully, as you can see.
More Norfolk Island Pines are sold around Christmastime than about any other time of year. They should be thought of as a permanent Christmas tree rather than a blooming plant that may only live indoors briefly. They can live for many years as you can see. For Christmas, you can decorate them with ornaments that are small and light in weight. Or you can put small bows on them that have been wired with floral wire. (Your florist would be happy to make some for you.) But please remove them when Christmastime is over!
Botanically, it is called Araucaria heterophylla and horticulturally it is known as Araucaria excelsa. It is a native of the South Pacific and named after Norfolk Island which is near Australia. Unlike other conifers, it prefers warm temperatures all year long. It is quite hardy and a good choice for beginners interested in growing indoor plants. It would do very well on a shady patio in the summer.
- Bright indirect light or some direct sun works best. It is tolerant of lower light for awhile.
- Water plants in a 6" diameter pot when dry about a 1/2" below the soil surface. The larger specimens like the one pictured above, should dry out about 1" or so below the soil surface.
- A plant in a 6" (15cm)diameter pot should take about 1 pint (almost 1/2 liter) of water when necessary. A 10" diameter pot (25cm)will use about 2 quarts and a large specimen in a 14" diameter container will use about 1 gallon of water when needed.
- Fertilize regularly.