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by Carole Schwalm A strand of Norfolk Island Pine trees against the horizon at sunset.

The Norfolk Island Pine is native to the South Pacific between Australia and New Zealand, where it can grow up to 200 feet tall. I couldn’t resist bringing home a Norfolk Island Pine tree from our big box store, especially one that was 4’ tall, lush looking and only $18.99!

A close up photograph of a Norfolk Island Pine tree branch. As a house plant the pine likes bright light and especially southern exposure in the winter. It handles the other directions well during the other seasons. The ideal inside environment should be bright and cool with day temperature between 60-70° F, but cooler at night.

The Norfolk Island Pine needs at least two hours of bright, direct sunlight per day. The pine needs less water than the average house plant. Water when the top 1” of soil feels dry to the touch, allowing the excess to come through the drainage holes. Discard the water that flows out. In other words, avoid making the poor thing live in saturated conditions. Fertilize every few months.

It is natural for the lower branches start to brown and drop from the aging process. However if this occurs throughout the tree you could be watering too much or too little. The plant needs approximately 50 percent humidity and the environment may be too dry. There may also be a hot or cold draft that is harming the plant.

Your pine can go outside during the summer months, but with partial sunlight conditions. Be sure to acclimate it to the changing low-light indoor environment for a few weeks before bringing it inside.

A Note from the SPCA: The Norfolk Pine is toxic to both cats and dogs. It is best to keep out of reach. Clinical signs are depression and vomiting.

Share your Norfolk Island Pine experience or if you'd like more information.