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The Norfolk Pine Is Perfect in Your Home Year-Round: Here's How to Care for It


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When looking for the perfect large houseplant to add to your collection, there are the obvious choices: the stunning Monstera Deliciosa, the finicky Fiddle Leaf Fig, or perhaps the adorable Rubber Tree. But what about the not-so-obvious choices? Enter the Norfolk pine (Araucaria heterophylla).

Not sure what a Norfolk pine is? If you're familiar with traditional Christmas trees and holiday garlands, then you have likely encountered them. While these are usually decorated as outdoor Christmas trees with garland and lights, they deserve a chance to shine year-round. If you absolutely love the smell of pine garland and want to keep this tree around all year, consider adopting a Norfolk pine as your next houseplant.

When kept indoors, this pine-like tree reaches anywhere between 3 to 8 feet high. This tree is native to Norfolk Island, near New Zealand (hence the name), but it's actually not a pine tree. It's more similar to orchids or gardenias. Though you might associate it with winter decorations, this is a tropical plant that loves humidity. Once you understand a few things about the Norfolk pine, it will be an easy houseplant to add to your collection.

  • Botanical Name: Araucaria heterophylla
  • Common Name: Norfolk pine, Norfolk Island pine
  • Plant Type: Needled evergreen conifer
  • Mature Size: Up to 200 feet tall in its natural habitat, but usually 3 to 8 feet tall indoors 
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to bright indirect light, but can tolerate shade
  • Soil Type: Peat-based potting mix
  • Soil pH: 4.5 to 5.5

Plant Care

When it comes to light, your Norfolk pine loves it. It will thrive in full sun or bright, indirect light. It can tolerate a bit of shade; it just won't be its full, perky self in those conditions.

For its watering needs, your Norfolk pine doesn't need a lot of water. It's drought-tolerant, so be careful not to overwater. Let the soil slightly dry out in between waterings. Its needles will tell you if it's thirsty. If the needles are yellowing, give it a drink.


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Best Growing Conditions for Norfolk Pine

Don't hide your Norfolk pine away in a shady corner. It loves the light and thrives in full sun or bright, indirect light. It can survive in medium light but position it near a south facing window so it can really thrive. Since it's a tropical plant, it loves humidity. You can help recreate this atmosphere by placing a humidifier close to your plant and giving it a daily mist.

Your Norfolk pine can also be moved outdoors in its container during the summer months to get a little growth boost. You can also boost its growth by adding weak liquid fertilizer during the spring and summer months.

For its soil needs, your Norfolk pine likes slightly acidic soil. A peat-based potting mixture will be the best choice for your indoor Norfolk pine. If you permanently plant your Norfolk pine outside, it will do best in sandy, rich, peat-mixed soil. However, note that this tree is not cold hardy, so if you normally get temperatures dropping below freezing in your area, your Norfolk pine won't survive outside.


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Norfolk Pine Varieties

There's only one variety of Norfolk pine: Araucaria heterophylla. The look, feel, and smell of the Norfolk pine all belong to this one variety.

How to Propagate Norfolk Pine

Unlike some more popular indoor houseplants, a Norfolk pine can't be propagated by simply cutting a branch and placing it in a rooting hormone before displaying it in an adorable propagation station. Norfolk pines grow from seeds, so this likely won't be one you'll be propagating on your own.


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Common Growing Problems

While some browning of the needles at the bottom of your tree is common, if the browning starts spreading throughout the whole tree, that's a sign something is wrong with your Norfolk pine. However, the problem might not be so easy to identify. Browning can mean your tree is underwatered, overwatered, or its environment isn't humid enough.

You can troubleshoot this problem by observing its conditions. Is the soil very dry? It could need water. Is it moist? Cut back. Is your watering routine perfect, but you don't have a humidifier nearby? Add one.

Pests can always be a problem for houseplants, and the Norfolk pine is no exception. It can be prone to aphids, mealybugs, scale, and whitefly. If you discover any of these pests on your plants, debug them immediately.

So don't discard the Norfolk pine after the holidays. Enjoy this happy houseplant year-round.

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