Norfolk Island Pine Pruning: What Is It?
Pine trees are native to many tropical islands, but they have been introduced into some temperate areas such as Hawaii and Florida. These islands were once inhabited by Polynesians. They used the tree bark for clothing, mats and other objects. Today, these same trees are used in traditional Hawaiian homes.
The reason why pine trees are being planted in homes today is because it provides shade and warmth. But, there are times when the trees become overgrown with invasive species like poison ivy or Japanese knotweed.
If these plants get established, they can cause severe damage to your home’s structure if not removed immediately.
Topping out a tree requires very little effort, but it does require time and patience. Topping out a tree involves cutting away all the branches except those which will grow back.
Then, you must wait until the new growth begins to form before you begin removing any remaining branches from the trunk.
In order to maintain a healthy forest, it is necessary to remove invasive species from your yard at regular intervals. There are several methods of pruning trees; however, most homeowners prefer using a saw or hand pruner.
What Is A Norfolk Island Pine?
The Norfolk Island pine is a small tree which is native to the South Pacific. It has been introduced to many other parts of the world. For example, it has recently been planted in California where it has been thriving. The tree is often seen as an ornamental plant and is commonly found in parks and other outdoor locations where people like to go for walks or jogging. It’s also popular among homeowners who want a tropical look.
One of the best things about this tree, apart from its appearance, is that it doesn’t need a lot of attention. There are no major diseases which affect it and it isn’t bothered by insects.
It is drought tolerant so people who live in hot, dry climates often plant them. If you’re a homeowner who wants to save time and money on lawn care, there are few better options than this tree.
What Do You Need To Do If You Have One In Your Yard?
Norfolk Island pines are fairly low maintenance, but they do require some occasional maintenance such as pruning and feeding. You should begin by determining where you want to plant the tree. Dig a hole for it and add some fertiliser or organic material for the first couple of years. This will help it get established quickly. Water it regularly and wait for it to grow.
Most people plant the tree in the spring or summer. Others choose to plant them in the fall as this is when they naturally drop their leaves.
The choice is yours. Once you’ve planted the tree, remember to water it on a regular basis. If you live in a region where there is significant rainfall, you may not need to do this since nature will take care of it naturally.
Norfolk Island pines grow fairly quickly. If you want to control its size, you can trim it back whenever you like to keep it shorter than you want it to be.
This is also necessary if you want to create a bush rather than a tree.
It’s important to note that the flowers and seeds of this plant are very sensitive, so it’s best to handle them as little as possible. If you do, you run the risk of them dropping off before they are pollinated.
The plant attracts birds and insects which help it to reproduce naturally. If you want to increase the growth rate of the tree, you can feed it a high nitrogen fertilizer.
You might also want to learn how to preserve Norfolk Island pines since they do not keep well when they are cut. Place them in a cool location away from direct sun and water.
You can keep them for up to a year in this manner.
Basically, you will want to treat this tree as you would any other small tree or shrub. The more you fuss over it, the better it will grow.
Once it’s gotten used to its new environment, it should require very little attention on your part.
Where Can I Get One?
If you’d like to get one of these trees for yourself, it’s best to buy it from a nursery rather than getting one from the wild. The ones sold in nurseries are typically grown on site and will be much healthier than those collected from the forest. You’ll also be able to ask the staff any questions you have about growing this tree.
A lot of nurseries will offer delivery, so they can bring the tree to your house. Others will ask that you pick it up yourself.
To do this, you’ll need to know exactly when the nursery receives new stock so that you can be there to pick it up at that time.
You can get many types of plants and flowers from most nurseries. Since this is one of the more exotic ones, it might be hidden in the back.
Ask if you have any difficulty locating it.
Pruning A Norfolk Island Pine: When And How
One of the great things about Norfolk Island pines is that they grow fairly quickly. This means that you can shape them as you see fit.
They can be grown into almost any shape and size, from a small dome to a tree with many branches. It’s all up to you and how much time you want to spend working on them every day.
The tree may be grown into a shrub if that’s what you prefer. They can reach up to 30 feet in height, but this will take several years.
They can also be trimmed into a hedge. This is perfect if you want to block out parts of your yard from view. So much can be done with these trees that it would be difficult to list every possibility.
The leaves of this plant are very sharp and should be handled with gloves or tweezers. This is very important since the oils and juices it contains can make your skin very sensitive to sunlight.
Always wear sunblock when working on the tree so that you don’t get a sunburn on exposed skin.
Always make sure to wash your hands after handling these plants! If you have any cuts or scrapes, make sure to cover them up with band-aids.
Otherwise, the oils from the leaves will enter your bloodstream and your body will start to react in adverse ways. These can range from a mild rash to a full-blown allergic reaction that covers your whole body.
If you want to add more fertilizer to the soil, wait until there is a week or so after the tree has shed its leaves for the year. This will ensure that the fertilizer isn’t taken up by the leaves and instead goes to improve the growth of the roots.
You should only use a fertilizer formulated for trees since those for other plants may contain ingredients that are harmful to this species.
A Norfolk Island pine will start to grow more quickly once it is fully-potted. It should grow several inches within the first year, and at least a foot within the first two.
Repotting should be done every two or three years, though this may vary depending on how much you want to grow the tree. After this amount of time, the roots will have filled up the pot and become cramped.
This will keep the tree smaller than it could be, so it’s a good idea to repot early rather than later.
The only tools you need are some gardening clippers and a trowel. You also may want to wear gloves since you’ll be handling the root ball and don’t want it to irritate your skin.
First, use the trowel to gently remove the tree from its pot. Try not to damage or break any roots in the process.
Set the pot aside. Use the clippers to remove any broken or dead roots, as well as any that are growing in a way that would make it difficult to place the tree back in the pot.
Use your hands to gently loosen the roots without tearing them. Try not to break them since you don’t want the tree to lose any of its moisture.
Place it in the new pot and make sure that the base is completely covered by the soil. Add potting soil until it is at the right height.
Tamp the soil down and add more until it is at the same height as the rest of your pots. Water it well with a watering can or hose, then set it in a sunny location and don’t water again for at least a week.
Check to see if it needs water after this period, then resume your normal watering schedule.
The plant should grow more quickly now that it has room to expand. Keep an eye on your tree to make sure it is growing straight and not at an odd angle.
If it is, you may need to stake it so that it grows up straight.
Eventually, the plant may grow and take over parts of your garden or yard if you let it. You can prune it back to keep it smaller.
Any branches that are within reach can be cut off and these will grow back thicker than before.
Most of the time, a Norfolk Island pine will grow to be between six and twelve feet in height, and up to six or more feet wide. The tallest one on record was just under forty feet!
As long as you prune it and don’t allow it to flower, your tree can be kept relatively small. It can make a nice accent in your home for years and years.
Taking care of a Norfolk Island pine isn’t difficult and, with a little effort, you’ll be able to grow healthy and beautiful specimen that will last for decades.
Whether you’re a serious gardener or just like to keep a few around the house, this is a really neat plant that is well worth the effort.
Norfolk Island pine care isn’t difficult and, if you’re like me and love the way they look, it’ll be time and money well spent.
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Sources & references used in this article:
Araucaria heterophylla: Norfolk Island Pine1 by MS Bullians, C Inglis, CF Hill, S Ganev, M Braithwaite… – Surveillance for biosecurity …, 2008
ArborAdvice Ltd by EF Gilman, DG Watson – academia.edu
Post-holiday care of gift plants by A ASSESSMENT – Policy – hamilton.govt.nz
An illustrated guide to pruning by A West, MLSC Arboriculturist
Pruning trees, shrubs & vines by PJ Pugliese – 2011 – athenaeum.libs.uga.edu