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How to Grow a Norfolk Island Pine


The other day I was walking through the floral department at my local grocery store and found one of my favorite plants.  What is this plant?  Well, you guessed it.  The Norfolk Island pine is one of my favorites.  It has stepped in during lean times as a fresh holiday tree.  Other times, it has represented my only connection to the outdoors.  But before you think a Norfolk Island pine is just like the live holiday trees you dig up, I will like to tell you now.  It is one of the few evergreens that will survive indoors.  Having said that though, there are a few tricks involved in keeping your indoor evergreen looking its best so let’s learn to together. 

The process begins when you purchase your plant.  This evergreen only grows outdoors in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 11.  In doing so, you will need to make sure your plant is protected from the outdoor environment when you are going from the store to your care. 

After you get home, remove the covering that you placed on your plant to make it from the store to your car.  Next, you will need to either remove the foil sleeve from the pot or poke holes in the bottom of the foil.  Either choice will require you to acquire a saucer for your plant.  What are the advantages and disadvantages of keeping or removing the foil?  Well, keeping the foil on will allow your pot to be decorated, which is very important to some people who want a designer touch.  But keeping it on will require you to either poke holes in it or removing it every time you need to water.  Not doing either one of these will cause water to pool in the foil and cause rooting.

Now that decision has been made, the next step is to choose the proper room to put your new evergreen in.  The best room is one that is kept at 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit during the nighttime hours.

As far as the Norfolk Island pine is concerned, it will need lots of indirect sunlight and a few hours of direct sunlight.  To keep it growing straight, make sure to rotate it a quarter turn once a week.

When it comes to watering, do not just throw water on the soil.  Norfolk Island pines do best in a well-draining soil.  So before you water, make sure to stick your finger 1 inch down into the soil.  Once that is done, pull your finger straight up.  If you find your finger caked with soil, you do not need to water.  On the other hand, if you finger comes out dry then you will need to water.

Now that you know when you need to water, the next step is to learn how to water.  The Norfolk Island pine likes to be watered from the top.  Continue to water until you see moister coming out the drainage holes.  Allow the plant to drain for 15 minutes and then pour out the excess. 

Your Norfolk Island pine will need to be fed a balanced fertilizer once every 4 months but do not feed during the winter months. 

This evergreen loves the humidity high.  While the summer environment is normally not a problem, winter’s indoor environment can be too dry.  To increase the humidity around your Norfolk Island pine can be accomplished in two ways.  One way is to set up a humidifier.  If this is not possible, consider setting up a humidity tray.  Yes, there are ones that you can buy but why would you when you can make a simple one. 

To make a humidity tray takes to items.  One is a tray and the second is pebbles.  The steps involved in creating this tray are simple.  The first step is to fill the tray with pebbles and then move it to the location where the Norfolk Island pine will be placed.  Next, fill the tray with water up to the pebbles.  After that is done, place the evergreen on top.  Once that is complete, you are done.

The Norfolk Island pine is one of those plants that does not need to be repotted very often but you should repot it every 4 years.  When it comes to repotting the process is simple and starts with the selection of a pot.  The container should only be the next size up from the original pot’s size and should have a drainage hole.  Once you have that pot, the next step is to prepare the container.  What does this mean?  Well, it starts with sterilizing the container.

Sterilizing the pot is easy but is very important.  If you skip this step, you are risking exposing your evergreen to plant disease.  To sterilize a container, starts with filling a basin with water and adding a capful of bleach to that water.  Next, place the pot in the water and allow to soak for a few minutes.  Once you have soaked the container, take scrub brush and remove any soil and/or dirt.  Rinse the container in clear water and allow to dry.

After the container has dried, place drainage material in the bottom of the pot.  Add a thin layer of an all-purpose, well-draining potting soil.  Now that the container is ready to plant, the next step is to remove the Norfolk Island pine from its original container.  This can be done by cutting away the pot or you can tip the pot upside down and squeeze the sides of the container.  At this point, the plant should just slide out of the pot.  If this does not happen, gently tap the pot on a hard surface and try again. 

Once the plant has been removed from its original container, the next step is to prepare the root ball.  This is done by just loosening up the soil around the roots.  Doing this allows the roots to grow outward instead of continuing to grow in its former pots shape. 

Next, place the plant in the new pot and fill in with soil.  Do not fill all the way up to the lip of the pot.  Instead, you will need to keep it below the rim.  Once that is done, gently tap the container on a hard surface and water in.  If need be, add additional soil to the pot. 

If you notice that after repotting the needles of your Norfolk Island pine, do not worry.  This is a common occurrence that happens when you transplant this evergreen.  While the yellowed needles will not grow back, your evergreen should recover and continue to grow from the ends of the branches.


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Primula Love Cool Weather

There are many varieties of Primula and they all love cooler temperatures and shade to partial shade areas.

The top three favorites are English Primrose (Primula Polyanthus), Fairy Primrose (P.malacoides), and P.obconica.

They make great woodland plants, bedding or edging plants, and container plants.

They are perennials, and when planted in the correct spot, will last for years.

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