Norfolk Island Pine Care

Norfolk Island Pines (Araucaria heterophylla) are often found covered in glitter, bows, and baubles and acquired around the winter holidays. After that they’re often found out by the garbage bin, which is a shame because with the right care your Norfolk Pine can become a striking addition to your home. With the addition of fairy lights that you’re too lazy to remove, it can add a sense of whimsy year round, like mine does!

Mine is currently about six feet tall, and I just trimmed it back. My grandmother gave it it to me when it was still covered in glitter and stuck in a little plastic pot seventeen or eighteen years ago, making this guy my personal oldest plant and one of my favorites.


These beautiful “pines” aren’t really pines at all. Their natural habitat is a tropical one, so in frosty areas (greetings from Michigan!) they should be kept indoors and go outside in the summer. I find them to be relatively easy-going and adaptable plants that can tolerate a wide range of plant-keeping sins.

They appreciate a fast-draining, sandier soil mix. As with any house plant, make sure you’ve got adequate drainage. Water when the top inch or so of soil is dry. I tend to give mine a good soaking and then let it dry out for a while – but I’ll confess that I don’t have mine in an ideal soil mix right now, so it holds moisture a little longer than I want it to.

My oldest Norfolk Pine hidden behind the coffee trees.

My oldest Norfolk Pine hidden behind the coffee trees.

Speaking of moisture, the Norfolk Pine loves humidity. If your house tends to be very dry you’ll want to find a way to boost the humidity for your plant. I run humidifiers for mine during winter, and sometimes I keep one going in summer for the humidity lovers. That extra humidity has made a big difference for my plants.

I don’t actually use fertilizer regularly on mine, but you can fertilize your Norfolk Island Pine during the summer growing season if you think it could use a pick-me-up, but not during winter when they are dormant.

Find the brightest spot you can for your Norfolk Pine – a Southern exposure window is a good choice for them, but any place in your home that gets a lot of bright indirect light will do. It’s very important not to place it anywhere drafty, however. Don’t leave it where the heat or the air conditioning will be blowing on it, or the front door may let in an icy wind. I’ve noticed that if I don’t redirect my air conditioning vent and it blows on my Norfolk Pine, I’ll start seeing browning on its upper branches right where the draft hits. 

Last but not least – head over to the House Plant Hobbyist group on Facebook to show off your Norfolk Island Pines, ask for individualized care advice, and connect with other members!