Imagine buying a Christmas tree once, then using it every December, year after year! Been there, done that? Probably not with a living tree. This one’s not plastic or aluminum—it’s an honest-to-goodness evergreen!
Norfolk island pine (Araucaria heterophylla) is a subtropical tree that grows tall and proud in climates like South Florida and Hawaii, where it can reach up to 200 feet in height. Elsewhere it makes a fine houseplant or patio plant, slowly growing to about 6 feet.
This attractive evergreen tree has gracefully curved branches that help it stand apart from traditional indoor plants. Because of its beauty, Norfolk island pine is marketed year round but especially at Christmas. In fact, a number of national retailers now sell the potted evergreens already decorated for the holidays! Unlike other evergreens, Norfolk island pine is comparatively easy to grow indoors, which means you can keep it alive for years. Just think, your family Christmas tree could live to serve another generation, starting a nice tradition.
Keeping a Norfolk island pine healthy depends on providing bright light and keeping it away from drafts (including heating vents). Water whenever the top inch of soil is dry. Soil that’s continually wet can cause root rot and browning of branches—at which point some homeowners instinctively reach for the watering can when the tree already has too much moisture.
From Christmas tree to houseplant to patio tree? Yup! Turns out Norfolk island pine likes to spend the summer months outdoors, where it will often take on a greener hue. The key is to wait until the danger of frost has passed, then move it to a partly shaded spot for the summer. Don’t put it in direct sun because the needles will get sunburned.
Why use a Norfolk island pine as a Christmas tree? It’s natural, it’s unique and, believe it or not, it’s an air purifier. NASA research confirms houseplants like Norfolk island pine can help remove harmful vapors that off-gas from common household items, furnishings and cleaning chemicals. No artificial tree can do that!