Norfolk Island Pine Indoor Care
I just purchased a 4 ft norfolk pine. It is in a 2. 33 gallon pot with foil on the outside. There are no holes under the pot. Should I remove the foil and drill holes in the pot or leave it alone?
The tree is very fresh and just shipped in when I got it at the store. It is in good shape except the very top branch is dark colour, not dry though. Maybe cold damage from shipping? Is this anything to worry about?
I am hope to keep this plant alive for many years. I put it in my bedroom which has an aquarium so hopefully will help with its high humidity requirements. There is only one window in the room and it is a north window. Will placing the tree in front of that window be enough light to keep it alive?
Any other tips on keeping it alive would also be helpful.
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
I would definitely remove the foil and place the tree in a container that provides drainage. Otherwise, you will have issues with root rot from the plant sitting in water or becoming too saturated. Simply move it up another pot size or two and fill in around the plant with additional potting soil. For more information on caring for Norfolk pine, this article will help: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/norfolk-pine/norfolk-island-pine-care.htm
Norfolk Island Pine is not a commonly used interior plant in the professional trade because they are not an easy plant; in 30 years I've only had 2. Also, I suspect, there's a lot of individual variation - in other words, you might try several times to grow one, and fail miserably, then suddenly, in the same conditions under which all the others died, you'll find one that perks along happy as you please. That being said, let me share with you my experience.
The first NIP I ever saw in office was by a window in a NYC office building, dirty and half shaded by venetian blinds. It had grown tall enough to hit the ceiling, and it must have been five feet in diameter. It was absolutely gorgeous. It was never repotted, fertilized maybe once a year, and watered only when it was NEARLY dry all the way to the bottom of the pot. The 2nd NIP was in a much larger spot by a long window wall where it got super light. It was watered when the soil was slightly damp in the bottom of the pot, and was fertilized 3 times a year. It did beautifully.
From this I hope you will take a few bits of info that might help you with your plant. 1st, a plant in lower light will take less water, and will need to have its soil better aerated between waterings. You will need to check the soil moisture all the way to the bottom of the pot, not just on the top couple of inches. You can do this by using a soil probe that will reach this deep - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tf-8InSamYQ is a short video that will explain the use of probes.
2nd thing is light; a north window might be considered bright indirect if it is unobstructed by trees or curtains, but in any case it should be sufficient if you don't let the soil stay too wet.
3rd, humidity. Any humidity you can add from an aquarium, or even a humidifier, will be all to the good, but not necessary. No one ever humidified the NIP's I've told you about, they thrived in the office air right along with the people. BTW, misting once a week would be absolutely useless; also misting every day, or even every hour. The mist droplets disappear into the ambient air without affecting the humidity for more than a few minutes. Good luck.
Norfolk Island Pine plants can withstand as much light as possible. Signs of too little light will include light green new growth that has large space between layers of branchs on the central trunk, and the limbs aren't 'stout'. The first NIP I had was a disaster. I was told that it would live in low light...being a newbie, that's where I put it, and it dies rather quickly. Partly because of not enough light and also, because it was in the draft of central heat/AC. NIP's will be very happy in a full sun window.
Thanks for the help. The foil is gone so any water can now drain. Would bright indirect light be a north window? What signs should I be looking for to tell me the tree is not getting enough light?