Norfolk Island Pines are a popular plant that is usually sold around the holidays.  People use them as Christmas Trees. These plants are actually houseplants and if you don’t understand the optimal growing conditions they need, they may not last longer than the holidays.  In most parts of the US and Europe, these plants can’t survive outdoors.   I have to admit I have had this plant before and killed it.  I just bought one this year, so I decided to share with you my research on the plant.  I have been told once you get the plant established, they are almost indestructible.  You need to be consistent in your care.

The plant is not really a pine tree, it is a tropical conifer that comes from Norfolk Island, which is off the coast of Australia and New Zealand. The plant is a houseplant but some people put them outdoors.  Just know the plant can’t survive in temperatures that drop below 50 degrees.  These plants can look great in your home with Poinsettia or Christmas Cactus plants.

Here are our tips for growing and caring for your Norfolk Island Pine:


Light – Norfolk Island Pines need bright, indirect sunlight. A northeast or a northwest window is best.  Keep the plant around 4 feet from the window so it does not get burned. If it gets too close to the window their leaves will turn brown since they are getting sunburned.

Temperature – Give the plant as much sun as you can, but you do not want it near a heater.  A temperature of 62 – 75 degrees is perfect.  Most of us have our homes set to this temperature range, which makes it pretty easy.   You have to be careful when you purchase this plant that you get it wrapped when you are transporting it.  If you buy this plant at a nursery, they will most likely wrap it, but if you are buying it from a big box store, make sure you bring your own wrappings to protect it.  After purchase, bring it right home.  Do not let it sit in the car. When they are exposed to cold temperature conditions they will shrivel up and basically hide.  In other words, they will shrink.  

Watering – It needs to be kept evenly moist.  Check the soil, at least once a week to see if the soil is almost dry and then water it thoroughly.  Make sure the pot the plant is in has draining holes. If you do not water it enough, and it dries out too much you will find the needles on the branch get very sharp and brittle.  The plant often does not recover if it dries out too much.  It should not be soaked when you water it or let it sit in water as this will cause root rot.    

Humidity – The plant needs 50% humidity in the house.  In wintertime especially with the heat on this is normally not the natural indoor conditions.  To help keep the humidity up, try grouping other indoor plants together.  If that is not going to work for you, try putting the plant on top of a tray of pebbles that has water or get a humidifier.  If the plant is exposed to really dry air it will make the plant wither.

Decorations – the branches are delicate, so if you do want to decorate them, make sure you don’t put too many ornaments on the tree.  Also, keep the decorations lightweight so you don’t weigh the branches down.  Try adding some small LED lights.  Other lights will be too hot and dry out the plant.

Precaution - This plant is toxic to cats and dogs if consumed.

If you have a Norfolk Island Pine, share your care tips with us!

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