Norfolk Island Pines, Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, please remember our service personnel who are away from their families today. 

Get well gift from my co-workers

This time of year one popular plant purchased or given as a gift is the Norfolk Island Pine.  The Norfolk Island Pine scientific name if you are into things like that is ‘Araucaria heterophylla’ and is a native of Norfolk Island near Australia in the South Pacific.  In their native country, they can grow up to a height of 80 feet.    Kept in a temperature that is comfortable for you in your home in bright light, but not full sun, they will maintain a reasonable size when grown in a container. However they really enjoy daytime temps around 65.  If the temperature drops below 50, they will not survive long, so they cannot overwinter outside in most areas of the country.  They don’t like to be re-potted, so limit that to every three or fours years, watering thoroughly before removing from its current container.  Use a light fast draining mix to re-pot.  Fertilize monthly during the summer months with half strength plant food. 

When watering use either rain water, or tap water which as set out at least 24 hours and water thoroughly at least weekly, and more often if it dries out sooner to keep the potting mix slightly moist in the summer.  In the winter, allow the potting mix to dry slightly between watering.  The Norfolk likes high humidity and the plant enjoys being misted daily.  Signs of under watering and/or low humidity are tip browning, needle drop, and eventually, the lower branches dying off.  Once the tips turn brown, the branch stops growing.  Pruning the end of a branch off will also cause it to stop growing.  The only pruning should be trimming off the brown dead tips of branches and dead branches.

lack of water or low humidity problems

 When used as a Christmas tree, one thing to keep in mind is that lights will dry out the Norfolk.  As with any other Christmas tree, keep the decorations on for as brief as possible.  This one pictured was given to me as a gift from my co-workers. It was sprayed with a clear paint to put sprinkles on.  It’s not able to breathe and the limbs that have a heavy coating on them are starting to fall off.   It eventually died due to the coating.  I still have the one I received from my sister as a Christmas gift over ten years ago.  It wasn’t painted.

 With the gardening season winding down, I took the time last week to get my knee repaired that I blew out last April during the tornadoes.  I’ve found out it’s gotten too old to crawl up on a chair to change a light bulb.  I should have gotten my step ladder instead.  I was able to get most of my potted daylilies and iris in the ground before surgery. Some not where I would have liked, but at least they are in the ground. When they bloom next spring, I can decide which theme area they need to go to.  I have a few peonies still potted, but they should be alright during the winter.   During my time on crutches, Mom has been cooking and feeding my three hooligans, and driving me to my PT appointments.  Friends Lisa and Gracie have brought goodies to keep me from starving.

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for my family, wonderful friends, great co-workers who even my Mom considers family. The hooligans are thankful they have a good home on three acres with all the mice, birds, bumblebees and rabbits to chase. They are thankful their lives are now free of the abuse of the past, except when I yell at them to stop digging up a tree after mice

Check out my Grit magazine blog post, memories of our milk route and my attempt to make a Christmas card with the hooligans.

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