Norfolk Island Pine
I have a large Norfolk Pine that I have had for many years. During my vacation this summer, it was neglected either by over or under watering or lack of light. It has not recovered and is dropping older needles in mass. Despite the stress, it has new growth at the top. It is looking more and more like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Suggestions for how to get this plant healthy again??
Norfolk Island pines are finicky houseplants. If it has lost the bulk of the old needles, consider air layering the top of the plant. Make a small wound on the trunk on both sides beneath where new growth is beginning. Wrap some moist sterile potting soil or peat moss on the area, and wrap that with plastic, using a twist tie on top and bottom of the plastic. Leave this on all winter into early spring. Hopefully, roots will form in this media and in the spring, you can cut off the top and have a rooted new plant. Then cut the rest of it back within a foot of the pot and let it re-sprout at the base there, giving you two new plants. Inside, they are slow to grow during the winter months since lack of humidity and low light are not conducive to plant growth.
Three years ago at Christmas time, I purchased a Norfolk pine. For three years this has been a beautiful, lush, dark green pleasure to have in the house during the winter and on the deck in the summer. It has grown almost 12 inches in that time. This year, however, I became impatient and moved it out on one of those really warm days to the deck. There hasn't been a frost since then, but some rather chilly nights (40's), so now the top side of the branches are brownish and the beautiful tree I once enjoyed looks so sad. Can this tree be saved? I sure hope so.
It could be the cool nights or sunburn. If you move your plants from inside directly into full sunlight they often get tip-burned. Plants don’t turn red like we do on our first exposure to the sun, but often turn white or brown. I would think the plant can be salvaged, by removing the damaged tips on each branch. Once the weather is officially warm, and the humidity kicks in, the plant should begin to thrive. It is usually best to wait until mid April or early May to move houseplants outdoors for the summer season. Many gardeners think the plants enjoy a day in the sun on a warm, sunny day, even in the winter. They actually need a more gradual exposure to sunlight in the spring, and would be better left indoors until the time is right for them to remain outdoors. And while many plants simply need protection from temperatures below freezing, other houseplants can be damaged by temperatures below 50 degrees. A good thing to remember both spring and fall.
I have about a 15 year old Norfolk Island Pine Tree that has branched into 2 trunks. From review of the information provided on the internet, it appears these plants do not do well in our area, if grown outside. I would like to know exactly which zone we are in, in the Bentonville area. Then I would like to know if it is possible to divide these two "branches" or trunks? If so, how and when? The tree has been transplanted one time to a bigger pot, and it is simply too tall, for my 8' walls. I do put it outside during the summer, on the north side of the deck, which has a lot of light, but not direct sunlight. It grows quite a bit taller during that time. My house faces east and it could be planted on that side, where I have relatively good luck growing plants because of the early sun warming them up. Please let me know what I should do. This plant was originally given to my family when my brother died 15 years ago, and it has great sentimental value and I do not want to lose it.
Benton County is zone 6, but Norfolk Island pines are not winter hardy in any part of Arkansas, so they will have to be moved back inside for the winter. If the plant is growing too large for the house, don't keep moving it outside. If it is surviving fine indoors, it will continue to do well, but it won't grow in leaps and bounds like it does outside with heat and humidity. As to dividing it, it all depends on if there are two separate crowns which could be split, or if there are two main branches growing from one trunk. If it is the latter, it would be tough to re-root whichever part you take off. Division would be best done in the spring when you move it outside as that is when it grows the fastest and best.
When we moved down here (Hot Springs Village) from Minnesota, we moved many of our plants down here with us. One, in particular, is a Norfolk Island Pine. We have always put this outside in the summer and brought it in, in the winter. We continued to do that down here, but now I am wondering if this could be planted in the ground and remain outside permanently. It is getting quite large (about six feet tall). I used to have it sitting by our front door, but have now moved it out into the planting area in the yard.
Norfolk Island Pines are never winter hardy in Arkansas. While they look like a nice small tree, only move them outdoors for the summer growing season, and find room back inside before the first frost. However, one word of caution, if size is already becoming an issue, you may want to leave it indoors permanently. Tropical houseplants thrive outdoors in the heat and humidity of our summers (provided they are watered) and often grow quite large. They are not as fond of the conditions indoors and typically don't grow as rapidly.
All links to external sites open in a new window. You may return to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture web site by closing this window when you are finished. We do not guarantee the accuracy of the information, or the accessibility for people with disabilities listed at any external site.
Links to commercial sites are provided for information and convenience only. Inclusion of sites does not imply University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture's approval of their product or service to the exclusion of others that may be similar, nor does it guarantee or warrant the standard of the products or service offered.
The mention of any commercial product in this web site does not imply its endorsement by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture over other products not named, nor does the omission imply that they are not satisfactory.