One of my favorite things to get during the holiday season here in Colorado is a Norfolk Pine. These are some of the softest pine trees and are very beautiful in the home. However, it’s quite difficult to properly care for them in the Rocky Mountains.
Today, I’ll go over methods you can use to keep them alive when you’re not in the most ideal climate.
What is a Norfolk Pine?
The Norfolk Island Pine is a subtropical evergreen indigenous to the south Pacific Ocean. Norfolk Island, the tree’s homeland, lies just over 900 miles north of New Zealand.
In the best of conditions, the Norfolk Pine can reach up to 200 feet tall. In other warmer climates, such as Florida, they can peak at around 80 feet at their tallest.
But don’t worry, it won’t outgrow your home anytime soon. These pines can take up to 150+ years to reach their maximum limits.
Understand Your Norfolk Pine
When caring for the Norfolk Pine, you need to understand it’s preferred climate of growth. Since these trees do not adapt to cold very well, you cannot plant them outside throughout most of the United States.
Especially not in Colorado.
Keep the Humidity High
The humidity level of Norfolk Island ranges around the 77% area on average. If you live in a dryer location, you’ll need to use a humidifier to get those levels up to give your pine the best chance of survival.
And since Colorado usually hits around the 54% humidity level, it’s much too dry for the Norfolk Pine.
This is one of the reasons why Norfolks grow well in Florida and California, where humidity levels can average 74%.
It’s easy to overwater the Norfolk Pine, especially if you accidentally plant it with a coleus. Although the coleus thrives in moist soil, the Norfolk does not.
It’s a long story, but needless to say, the coleus is thriving in the same pot at a height of four feet. Unfortunately, the pine hasn’t grown much in the past year.
Yes, I do have plans to separate them.
From fall through spring, the tree needs less fertilizer and water. This is essentially the pine’s down-time.
But when you do water, make sure the top inch or so of the soil is dry. This is an indicator that it’s time to water the tree.
Speaking of water, the Norfolk Pine likes loosely, drained soil. It doesn’t need a ton of water, as its root system is slow-moving and less demanding than a lot of other plants.
And if you want the tree to grow evenly, it’s always good to give the pot a quarter of a turn to face the sunlight.
Keep Warmer than 50 Degrees Fahrenheit
Remember, the Norfolk Pine is a subtropical tree. Which means she will not tolerate colder temperatures. This is a bit more difficult to manage during the winter in Colorado.
This means you cannot plant the tree outside in most areas of the United States. It just simply will not survive in the colder regions during the winter months.
Natural sunlight does well in the winter, but you need to make sure the pine is a “comfortable” distance from the window. The coolness of the glass radiates a bit, and being too close could be too cold.
Getting Enough Light
The Norfolk Pine thrives on natural sunlight…and lots of it. If at all possible, try to keep it in a well-lit room.
But if natural sunlight is more difficult in your home, make sure that the tree is in a bright area. The more light, the better.
Remember, the Norfolk Pine is Tropical
Although I love the feel and appearance of the Norfolk Pine, I have no idea why it’s such a popular Christmas tree. Especially in Colorado.
But if you can keep them happy, the tree is a beautiful addition to any home.
Just don’t try to plant it outside if you live anywhere near the mountains or in colder climates.
Michael has been interested in the practicality of living green for quite some time. He works closely with GreenGeeks Web Hosting as the Content Marketing Team Lead and an author of various articles.