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Monday, December 12, 2016 HouseplantsWinter

5 Norfolk Island Pine Facts

Norfolk Island pines are delightful living Christmas trees that are sure to add a big dose of holiday cheer to your home or office. They last longer than poinsettias, and in fact, can keep growing beautifully for years. They’re also a lot easier to deal with than traditional living Christmas trees (such as pines, firs, and spruces), especially if you live in a cold-winter climate. These cute holiday plants are pretty inexpensive, too, making them an excellent holiday or hostess gift.

We grow thousands of Norfolk Island pines each year here on our farm in Miami, Florida, and get a bunch of questions each holiday season. Here are answers to five of the most common questions we get during the holiday season.

1. Does Norfolk Island Pine Grow Outdoors?
A: A tropical tree, Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla) doesn’t like frosty weather, and can’t be grown outdoors in USDA Hardiness Zone 9 or colder. They’re best suited to subtropical areas, such as South Florida and Hawaii. If you live in an area that experiences frosts or freezing weather (below 32F/0C), it’s best to grow Norfolk Island pine as a houseplant. That said, they love spending the summer outdoors and will reward you with faster growth!
Fun fact: We harvest seeds (by hand!) from mature Norfolk Island Pine plantations in Hawaii.

2. How Tall Does a Norfolk Island Pine Get?
A: Outdoors in the tropics, Norfolk Island pines can grow more than 200 feet (61 meters) tall in time. Happily, if you grow one indoors as a houseplant, you don’t need to worry about it busting through the ceiling anytime soon. Inside, they’re not particularly fast growers. With good care, over the course of years, they can eventually reach 6 feet (1.2 meters) tall or more.

3. How Do I Care for a Norfolk Island Pine?
A: Indoors, give Norfolk Island pine a spot that has medium to bright light and water when the top inch or so of the potting mix dries out -- just like a traditional houseplant. They’re not particularly fussy or temperamental, but Norfolk Island pines will drop their lower branches if they get dried out too much or are grown in a spot that doesn’t have enough light to support them.

Some folks like to grow Norfolk Island pines outdoors in a shaded or partly shaded spot for the summer. They love this and usually reward you by putting on a big burst of lush, new growth. If you want to move your tree outdoors, wait until after all danger of frost has passed and avoid moving it directly from inside to afternoon sun. Like with people, the needles can suffer from sunburn when first put out.
Get tips for growing Norfolk Island pine indoors. 

4. Does Norfolk Island Pine Purify the Air?
A: Yes! Scientific research by NASA showed that Norfolk Island pines can remove harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from the air, purifying it and making it safer for you and your family to breathe. VOCs are released by common household furnishings and compounds, including cleaning agents, beauty products, paints, clothes that have been dry-cleaned, and crafting products such as glue, adhesives, and permanent markers.

5. Where Can I Buy a Norfolk Island Pine?
A: During the holidays, Norfolk Island pines are commonly available from a wide range of retail stores, including garden centers, home improvement centers, mass merchandisers, grocery stores, and other places. See a list of some of our largest retail partners.

Learn how we grow Norfolk Island pine! 

Get tips for decorating with Norfolk Island pine. 

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