All About Norfolk Island Pine

All About Norfolk Pine Care

Araucaria heterophylla

The Norfolk Island Pine is a conifer tree native to Norfolk Island in the South Pacific. It is also called Star Pine, Living Christmas Tree, Polynesian Pine, and Triangle tree. Despite its name, it is not a true pine tree but a member of the Araucariaceae family.

These are popular houseplants, especially around the winter Holidays. They are often decorated with baskets, and bows even sprayed painted with sparkles and sold in big box stores as Living Christmas Trees.

After the holidays, people often throw out these trees but there’s no need to discard them. Norfolk Island Pines make wonderful houseplants and do well in most homes. Read on to learn how to care for these beauties and keep them happy all year.

Norfolk Island pine care

How To Care for Norfolk Island Pine

First and foremost Norfolks are tropical trees and cannot survive in temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. They prefer 65-75 degrees which is the normal range in most homes.

Choose your pot wisely. Almost any pot with drainage holes will do while your plant is small; however, as it grows you’ll need a pot heavy enough to balance the weight of the top of the tree. That way your tree doesn’t fall over. I find that ceramic pots work well for heavy trees.

If possible avoid pruning the top of the tree. After trimming the top of Norfolk Pine, it will no longer grow up and will instead branch out from the top, losing its triangular shape. Of course, this may be the inevitable fate of your tree – we don’t all have 20-foot ceilings and there’s only so much growing space!

If you prune the branches, they will not branch out the way other houseplants will. They will simply stop growing. If a branch needs pruning, it’s best to remove the entire branch.

Read on to learn more about caring for Norfolk Island Pines ……

USDA Zone 10-11

They are more drought tolerant than most houseplants but not like a cactus. Water when the top 2-3 inches of the soil is dry. About once every 1-2 weeks. Too much water can cause root rot.

When grown indoors they normally grow to around 8 feet but will grow to fit their space. They can reach 200 feet in their native environment. Norfolk Island Pines can also be kept as bonsai trees.

They prefer bright light or full sun. If you move them outside during the warm months, move them slowly so they can acclimate. Low light can be tolerated for short periods of time but they won’t survive indefinitely.

Use a sandy, slightly acidic potting mix that drains well. Create your own mix using potting soil, sand, and coconut coir.

They are native to the South Pacific and like 50% or higher humidity levels.

Norfolk Island Pine is listed as non-toxic and pet safe, however; there have been reports of minor gastrointestinal upset following consumption of the needles. This may be due to the texture of the needles vs toxicity. Find more pet-safe plants here.

Fertilize every three months during the growing season with Green Grub Insect Frass. You can either make a compost tea to water with every time or sprinkle a layer of fertilizer on top of the soil. If using synthetic, use an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer with a balanced ratio.

Propagate by seeds. Read on for propagation instructions.

how to propagate Norfolk Island pine

How to propagate Norfolk Island Pine

Propagating Norfolk Pine is easy but a long process. These are best grown from seeds and it takes a while to get from seed to tree.

1. Place seeds flat on a seed-starting soil mix and mist the seeds lightly to encourage germination.

2. Cover with a clear plastic bag or glass dome. Seed starting kits with humidity domes can also be used.

3. Keep the seeds moist, not wet, while the roots grow and the sapling emerges.

4. Once your sapling is growing out of the starting container, pot it into a more traditional planter that is 1-2 inches larger than the root ball.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my Norfolk Island Pine Getting Leggy?

Norfolk Island Pine gets leggy when it’s not getting enough sunlight. It’ll start growing higher and higher trying to reach for the light. Try moving your tree to a brighter spot or supplementing with a grow light.

Why are the leaves on my Norfolk Island Pine Turing Brown?

The leaves of Norfolk Pines turn brown when they aren’t getting enough water or the humidity is too low.

Why are the needles on my Norfolk Island Pine Turing Yellow?

Yellowing leaves generally indicate over watering but may also be sunburn. If you haven’t had any changes in light recently, check the root-ball and soil for sogginess.

Why is my Norfolk Island Pine Dropping Needles?

Norfolk Island Pines will drop needles for all of the above reasons. It could also be normal shedding of lower leaves.


We are here to spread our love of houseplants! There are many different varieties of plants that we keep in our homes. All of them with different needs and preferences. This blog is to share our knowledge about all kinds of houseplants and help people care for their own plants.

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