Can A Norfolk Island Pine Grow Outdoors – Planting Norfolk Pines In The Landscape

Outdoor Norfolk Island Pine Tree Branches
outdoor norfolk 1
(Image credit: ChinKS)

You’re far more likely to see Norfolk Island pine in the living room than a Norfolk Island pine in the garden. Young trees are often sold as miniature indoor Christmas trees or used as indoor houseplants. Can a Norfolk Island pine grow outdoors? It can in the correct climate. Read on to learn about Norfolk Island pine cold tolerance and tips on caring for outdoor Norfolk Island pines.

Can Norfolk Pines Grow Outdoors?

Can Norfolk pines grow outdoors? Captain James Cook spotted Norfolk Island pines in 1774 in the south Pacific. They were not the small potted plants you may purchase by that name today, but 200 foot (61 m.) giants. That is their original habitat and they grow much taller when planted in the ground of warm climes like this. In fact, outdoor Norfolk Island pines easily grow into mighty trees in the warmer regions of the world. However, in some hurricane-prone areas like south Florida, planting Norfolk pines in the landscape can be a problem. That’s because the trees snap in high winds. In those areas, and in colder regions, your best bet is to grow the trees as container plants indoors. Outdoor Norfolk Island pines will die in chilly regions.

Norfolk Island Pine Cold Tolerance

Norfolk Island pine cold tolerance is not great. The trees thrive outside in USDA plant hardiness zones 10 and 11. In these warm zones you can grow Norfolk Island pine in the garden. Before planting the trees outdoors, however, you’ll want to understand the growing conditions the trees need to thrive. If you want Norfolk Pines in the landscape near your home, plant them in an open, bright location. Don’t site them in full sun though. Norfolk pine in the garden accept low light as well, but more light means denser growth. The tree's native soil is sandy, so outdoor Norfolk Island pines are also happy in any well-drained soil. Acidic is best but the tree tolerates slightly alkaline soil too. When the trees grow outside, rainfall meets most of their water needs. During dry spells and droughts, you’ll need to irrigate them, but forget the fertilizer. Landscape grown Norfolk Island pines do just fine without fertilizer, even in poor soils.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.