The Norfolk Island pine comes from a small island in the South Pacific only 13 square miles in size. It is a tropical island about 900 miles from Australia and is relatively isolated from outside weather conditions, creating its own biosphere. Norfolk Island pines can grow up to 200 feet, but rarely do. They have straight trunks and branches that are light and feathery, rising at right angles from the trunk. The pine grows well in containers, making them suitable as houseplants.
Wait to repot in late winter or early spring when the plant is coming into a new growth period.
Look for signs a Norfolk Island pine needs to be repotted before going to the trouble of doing so. They enjoy being pot bound and only require repotting every two to four years. Signs the pine needs repotting include roots growing on the soil's surface or through the drain hole in the bottom.
Prepare the new pot by covering the drain hole with a small piece of screen or coffee filter. This will allow excess water to drain and keep soil from washing out. Repot the tree in a new container only 2 inches wider than the original pot. For example, plant a pine in a 6-inch pot into a pot no larger than 8 inches. Make sure the pot has a drain hole. Norfolk Island pines do not enjoy wet roots, and prefer to dry out between waterings.
Dampen the soil slightly before filling the new pot half full. The potting soil should have vermiculite mixed in to enhance water drainage.
Carefully tip the plant in the old pot to the side and slip it out. Unwind roots that have grown around the inside of the pot and cut off any dead roots.
Place the root ball in the center of the new pot, making sure the pine is planted at the same depth it was in the previous pot. If not, add or remove soil. Fill in with soil around the roots, then tap the pot on the ground or table to help the soil settle. Firm the soil around the trunk with your hands.
Water the tree well after planting.