The lacy, delicate foliage of this pretty, South Pacific tree makes it an interesting houseplant. The Norfolk Island pine thrives in warmer climates and can grow very tall, but when grown in containers it makes a nice, compact houseplant in any climate. Learn how to transplant your Norfolk so you can keep it happy and healthy.
How to Repot a Norfolk Island Pine
In its natural environment outdoors, the Norfolk Island pine can grow as tall as 200 feet (60 meters). But, when you grow it in a container, you can manage its size and restrict it to three feet (one meter) or smaller. These trees grow slowly, so you should only have to repot every two to four years. Do it in the spring as the tree is beginning to show new growth.
When transplanting a Norfolk Island pine, choose a container that is only a couple inches bigger than the previous one and be sure that it drains. These trees don’t tolerate soggy roots, so use a soil with vermiculite to promote drainage.
Researchers have actually determined the ideal depth for repotting Norfolk Island pines. A study found the best growth and sturdiness when the top of the transplanted pine’s root ball was situated 2 to 2.7 inches (5 to 7 cm.) below the surface of the soil. The researchers saw less growth when the trees were planted deeper or shallower.
Do your Norfolk Island pine repotting very gently, both for your sake and its. The trunk has some nasty spikes that can really hurt. The tree is sensitive to being moved and transplanted, so wear gloves and go slowly and gently.
Caring for Your Norfolk Island Pine Transplant
Once you have your pine in its new pot, give it the best care to help it thrive. Norfolk pines are notorious for developing weak roots. Overwatering makes this worse, so avoid too much water. Regular fertilizer will help strengthen the roots too. You may also need to stake your plant as it grows. The weak roots can make it lean or even tip over all the way.
Find a sunny spot for your Norfolk, as dim light conditions will make it stretch out and grow leggy. You can put it outdoors in warmer weather or keep it in year round. When you see roots start to grow through the bottom of the pot, it’s time to transplant and give your Norfolk roomier conditions.