Go Green This Holiday (and After)
Although not a true pine, this tropical tree has a classic Christmas-tree shape. The supple branches and soft needles can be festooned with lightweight garlands, strings of lights, and small ornaments. Best of all, this plant excels indoors so you can remove the holiday bling and enjoy its natural beauty long after the holidays are over.
Selecting a Norfolk Island Pine
Look for plants with bright green needles and no signs of yellowing or browning on the branches. Norfolk Island Pines are slow growing (indoors they may only grow two to three inches per year), so select a tree that fits your décor. Don’t skimp on a small tree, thinking it will grow fast enough to fill your room. Outdoors, in zones 10 to 11, Norfolk Island Pines can also be used in the landscape. These trees grow much faster outdoors and can reach heights of 200 feet so give them plenty of room.
How to Decorate Your Norfolk Island Pine
The well-branched plants are naturals for holiday décor. Use smaller plants as place card holders at your next party or plant a mini forest of Norfolk pines in a low container to create a woodsy centerpiece. A fully decorated tree also makes a welcome and long-lasting hostess gift.
After the winter holidays, you can also deck it out for other holidays: pastel eggs for Easter, flags for Fourth of July, and ghosts and goblins for Halloween. Here are some guidelines for decorating a Norfolk Island Pine:
> Use lightweight ornaments that won’t weigh down branches.
> Choose LED lights that are cooler than standard lights.
> Don’t leave decorative lights on for extended periods of time
> Remove decorations as soon as possible after the holidays.
> Keep the plant well watered, especially if it’s lit frequently.
> Caring for Norfolk Island Pines
Native to the South Pacific island of Norfolk, these beautiful plants require bright light and high humidity. Indoors, this means that a regular misting with cool water will promote good humidity and healthier growth. Or, you can pop your tree into the bathtub once a week for a light, cool shower.
When the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch, water your plant until you see moisture running out of the drainage holes at the base of the pot. Discard any excess water and wait until the soil dries before watering again. If your plant starts to drop needles and/or turn yellow, it’s probably a sign that it needs to be watered or misted more often. With a little care and attention your Norfolk Island Pine will spread holiday cheer for years to come.