How to Care for Indoor Pine Trees

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Indoor pine trees can be kept as houseplants all year.
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An indoor pine tree can be a beautiful addition to your houseplant collection. A common type of indoor pine tree is the Norfolk Island pine (​Araucaria heterophylla​, USDA plant hardiness zones 9 to 10), which isn't truly a member of the ​Pinus​ genus at all. While they're most commonly thought of in the winter months, an indoor pine tree can thrive inside your home year-round under the right conditions. Knowing how to care for indoor pine trees can help you keep yours looking as attractive and healthy as possible.

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Indoor Pine Location

The first factor to consider when caring for an indoor pine tree is where you place it in your home. Norfolk pines need a good amount of sunlight every day, so they should be placed near a window. Light will help your tree to keep its bright-green color. Placing your indoor pine on the window ledge in a well-lit room is the best way to achieve optimal growth too.

Norfolk pines tend to like staying in one place, so it's best to find a permanently well-lit spot for your plant as opposed to moving it into the sunlight for a period of time each day. It's also important to rotate your tree a quarter turn every few days to ensure all sides of the plant get enough light. This will ensure your tree grows upright and symmetrically rather than bending toward your window.

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Indoor Pine Watering

Norfolk pine trees like to be kept in soil that's moist but never soggy. When the top inch of soil feels dry, it's time to water your plant. These trees should be watered thoroughly so the entire soil area gets wet. Consistency is key, so make sure you never let too much time pass between waterings.

However, it's essential that you don't allow your pine to sit in water. The roots in particular are susceptible to damage and rot if kept in a stagnant, wet condition. This means the right sort of pot is important. Select a plant pot with drainage holes and then set it inside a saucer. After watering, the saucer will fill up with any excess water, which can be dumped out.

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Other Indoor Pine Tips

The right soil can really help your tree thrive. Opt for half potting soil and half peat moss for optimum conditions. Adding a layer of sand at the base of your pot can help aid drainage. You may also wish to add some fertilizer to the soil around your tree every two weeks throughout its growth period of March to September. You don't need to fertilize your pine tree during its dormant winter months.

The correct temperature is also important to help your tree thrive. Cold drafts and temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit can be very harmful. A temperature around 50 F at night and up to 70 F during the day is optimal. Try to place your tree away from any vents or open spaces that could cause large fluctuations.

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Humidity is another important factor to take into consideration. Indoor Norfolk pines like moist conditions. This can be achieved by running a humidifier or misting your plant once a week.

These trees rarely need pruning, but if you do notice any dead branches, they can be snipped away using hand shears. If you're noticing a lot of brown needles or branches, it's likely that your tree needs a higher temperature and more humidity.

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Annie Walton Doyle is a freelance writer based in Manchester, UK. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Daily Telegraph, Professional Photography Magazine, Bustle, Ravishly and more. When not writing, she enjoys pubs, knitting, nature and mysteries.

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