How to Grow and Care for Norfolk Island Pine

Norfolk Island pines are popular houseplants and handsome landscape plants in warm winter areas. For a living Christmas tree, dress Norfolk pine with bows and small ornaments.

A potted Norfolk Island pine

Norfolk Island Pine

If you're caring for a Norfolk Island pine indoors, give it bright indirect to medium light.

Photo by: The Sill

The Sill

If you're caring for a Norfolk Island pine indoors, give it bright indirect to medium light.

What is Norfolk Island Pine?

Norfolk Island pine is a beautiful evergreen that can be kept as a houseplant or grown outdoors year-round in USDA Gardening Zones 10 and 11. Despite its name, the Norfolk Island pine is a conifer in the Araucariaceae family and not a true pine.

Botanical Name: Araucaria heterophylla
Common Name: Norfolk Island Pine, Australian pine
Bloom Time: Bears cones, not blooms, at 10-15 years old
Light Needs: Bright, indirect light indoors; full sun to partial shade outdoors
Hardiness Zones: 10-11
Height and Width: 3 to 20 feet tall indoors
Growth Rate: Slow

In its native South Pacific habitat, Norfolk Island Pine can grow to 200 feet tall. But when kept as a houseplant, Araucaria heterophylla usually tops out at 3 to 8 feet tall — and it can take up to 10 years to reach that height. When it's grown outdoors in subtropical parts of North America, Norfolk Island Pine can reach 60 to 80 feet tall. These attractive conifers can be decorated to look like Christmas trees during the holidays. With the right care, they can live for many years.

A Norfolk Island pine strung with fairy lights

Decorated Norfolk Island Pine

For a tabletop holiday tree, decorate a Norfolk Island pine with ornaments, bows and fairy lights.

Photo by: Costa Farms

Costa Farms

For a tabletop holiday tree, decorate a Norfolk Island pine with ornaments, bows and fairy lights.

Norfolk Island Pine Care

Light Needs

Six hours of bright, indirect sun each day is ideal when you're caring for a Norfolk Island pine indoors, but this houseplant also grows in medium light. Turn a potted Araucaria heterophylla regularly so it doesn't lean in one direction. Outdoor trees need full sun but appreciate some afternoon shade in hot summer climates.

Soil

The New York Botanical Garden plants Norfolk pines, which are acid-loving plants, in a well-draining mix of equal parts potting soil, sand or perlite and peat moss combined with a tablespoon of bone meal. A potting mix made for succulents is fine, too. Outdoors, Norfolk pines do best in rich, sandy soil mixed with peat.

Water

Don't let your Norfolk Island pine dry out completely and don't keep it constantly wet. Let the soil dry to about an inch deep between waterings. Empty the saucer under a potted Araucaria heterophylla plant so the roots don't sit in water.

Temperature and Humidity

Tropical Norfolk Island pines need humid air and warm temperatures, preferably around 50% humidity and 65 to 70 degrees. Increase the humidity around your plant by misting the foliage, running a humidifier or keeping it on top of pebbles in a tray filled with a little water. Don't let the plant's roots touch the water or the roots may rot. Grouping Norfolk pine with other plants can also help. Avoid placing Araucaria heterophylla near drafts and vents.

Fertilizer

While your Norfolk Island pine is actively growing from spring to fall, feed it with a liquid houseplant fertilizer or a fertilizer made for acid-loving plants like azaleas. Use as directed on the label.

Growing Norfolk Island Pine

Propagation Methods for Norfolk Island Pine

Propogate Norfolk Island pine from seeds. Sow them on a moistened mix of sand and peat and keep them in bright, indirect light indoors or half sun and half shade outdoors. Mist them lightly, but don't cover them and they'll germinate in 10 to 15 days. When you see a tap root and new growth, water as needed to keep the seedlings moist.

Potting and Repotting Tips for Norfolk Island Pine

Repot about every two or three years in the spring when roots grow out of the drainage holes or appear on the soil's surface. Go up one pot size at a time, always using a container with drainage holes.

Pruning Techniques for Norfolk Island Pine

Pruning isn't recommended unless you're removing diseased or dead branches or brown tips. If your tree gets too tall for your space, give it to someone with a higher ceiling or add it to your compost bin and start over with a new one.

Some gardeners shorten Araucaria heterophylla by cutting back the main stem just above a whorl of branches. This isn't recommended because, while new growth will sprout from the cut area, the tree will look misshapen. For this reason, propagating Norfolk pine from cuttings isn't recommended, either.

Caring for a Norfolk Island Pine

Common Problems and Solutions for Norfolk Island Pine

Insect pests like aphids, mealybugs, mites, whiteflies and scale can infest Norfolk Island pine. Try knocking them off small trees with a spray of tepid water from your kitchen sink or shower. Outdoors, use a garden hose. For big infestations, apply neem oil or an insecticide as directed on the product.

Avoid overwatering to help prevent or manage anthracnose, a fungal disease that causes dead areas and can eventually kill the entire tree.

Troubleshooting Common Problems with Norfolk Island Pine

Some needle and branch drop is normal with Norfolk pines, but it shouldn't be excessive. Several issues can cause problems, including low light; too much, too little or irregular watering; low humidity; or improper fertilizing. Adjust your growing practices and see what works.

  • Lower branches that turn brown and drop is likely the result of not enough light and/or water
  • Crispy, brown tips and curling needles is caused by low humidity
  • Droopy branches? Water thoroughly when the top inch of soil is dry and don't let the plant stand in water.

FAQs:

Is Norfolk Island pine a good houseplant?

Norfolk Island pine is a great houseplant that can live for many years with the right care.

Can I put my Norfolk Island pine outside?


While these tropicals can't take temperatures below 35 degrees — and it's best not to let them go below 50 degrees — a potted Araucaria heterophylla Norfolk Island pine can go outside after all danger of frost has passed. Unless you're in Zones 10 or 11, move it back indoors before frost.

Do Norfolk Island pines like sun or shade?

Grown outdoors, these trees can take full sun but appreciate partial shade to shade in areas with hot, intense afternoon sun.

Where should I place a Norfolk Island pine in my house?

Place a small Araucaria heterophylla plant on a tabletop or desk near a bright window. Use larger specimens as floor plants.

Are Norfolk Island pines toxic to pets?

Yes. Keep them out of reach of pets and other animals.

Are there other varieties or cultivars of Norfolk Island pine?

There aren't any currently on the market.

Next Up

How to Grow and Care for Peperomia Plant

Grow easy-to-love peperomia, favored for its foliage in a wide range of color and forms. We'll show you how to successfully care for this tropical beauty.

How to Grow and Care for Sago Palm

Our garden experts offer sago palm planting, growing and care tips for this ancient plant.

How to Grow and Care for Polka Dot Plant

Add vibrant color indoors or to your containers with these tips for caring for polka dot plant.

How to Grow and Care for Peace Lily Plants

What’s not to love about peace lily, an easy-to-grow indoor plant that brings life and color to low-light spots while also purifying the air. Follow our advice for growing and maintaining peace lily and it'll soon become your go-to gift plant for friends and family, too.

How to Choose, Plant and Grow Junipers

Learn all about the various types of junipers available for landscaping, plus how to plant, prune and troubleshoot, and what varieties to choose for your home.

How To Grow Schefflera

This easy-to-grow tropical makes a gorgeous houseplant with hand-shaped foliage that ranges from deep green to variegated cream and yellow.

How to Care for a Majesty Palm Indoors

Find out how to keep this tropical plant happy inside your home, plus discover more palms that lend a Tropics vibe with less fuss.

How to Grow Alocasia

Commonly known as elephant's ear, this family of big-leafed tropical plants can be grown outdoors as a dramatic specimen plant or indoors as a houseplant.

How to Care for a Snake Plant

If you tend to kill plants with neglect, then the tough-as-nails snake plant is the right choice for you. Get care tips including how often to water snake plant and how to propagate snake plant.

How to Care for a ZZ Plant

Weren't gifted with a green thumb? Then this houseplant is for you. ZZ plants provide high-impact looks with little maintenance.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

On TV

Home Town

10am | 9c

Home Town

11am | 10c

Home Town

12pm | 11c

Home Town

1pm | 12c

Home Town

2pm | 1c

House Hunters

7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

House Hunters

8pm | 7c

House Hunters

8:30pm | 7:30c

House Hunters

10pm | 9c

House Hunters

10:31pm | 9:31c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

House Hunters

11:30pm | 10:30c

House Hunters

1am | 12c

House Hunters

1:31am | 12:31c

House Hunters

2:30am | 1:30c

House Hunters

3:30am | 2:30c

House Hunters

4:30am | 3:30c

House Hunters

5:30am | 4:30c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.