Araucaria heterophylla, commonly known as Norfolk Island Pine, is a largely symmetrical, evergreen conifer, and member of the Araucariaceae family.
It is thus not a true pine (Pinaceae), which typically have two seeds on the upper surface of their scaled (Araucaria has just one).
It is native to New Zealand and can also be found naturally in the rainforests of Australia as well as on the continent's sea cliffs.
It thrives in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11. It is not considered hardy in the UK and will not survive a frost. If growing in containers bring indoors for the winter.
Araucaria heterophylla(Norfolk Island pine) photograph by Forest and Kim Starr.
A single-trunked conifer, it features horizontal spiraled branches with needle-like, linear foliage tapering to sharp pointed ends.
Yellow male pollen cones, which grow up to two inches in size, grow in clusters.
The larger, spiny-scaled female seed cones are more rounded in shape with diameters of about three to six inches.
A perennial, Norfolk Island Pine grow to great heights of 100 to 200 feet (30 to 60 m) with a 20 to 25 foot (6 to 8 m) spread. They are both wind and salt tolerant.
While Norfolk Island Pine thrives in subtropical conditions, they also make popular house and greenhouse plants in colder regions.
Plant these conifers in containers or tubs in slightly acidic, moist, peat-based potting mixes. Their growth will be constricted by the container size.
The conifers are susceptible to foliage bleach, which can cause yellowing, so take care to place them where they will receive full sun but also some light afternoon shade.
Applying dilute liquid fertilizer on a weekly or bi-weekly basis starting in the spring and through the fall will help Araucaria heterophylla plants to thrive.
Additionally, occasional misting of indoor plants will help to imitate their natural subtropic climate preference.
While Norfolk Island Pine can be propagated by seed, the resulting conifers often result in more widely-spaced and less attractive foliage, and thus most gardeners would do best to use already started plants.
However, ambitious gardeners with their hearts set on propagation, will gain much better results can be accomplished by growing them from terminal cuttings.