Norfolk Island Pine – The Perfect Christmas Tree

By Bonnie Grant | December 22, 2020
by Bonnie Grant
December 22, 2020

Decorating for Christmas is one of my great joys. I have outdoor displays as well as indoor décor. A Christmas tree has rarely featured in my holiday décor because I can’t condone cutting trees and composting them, nor do I like the appearance of plastic and wire fake trees. However, one year that all changed.

Christmas Tree Alternatives

I love Home Depot. This isn’t a plug for them, just a comment. The place has everything a DIY champion needs and is fairly reasonable. Their plants are featured prominently in my home exterior and interior. One of my favorites is a Norfolk Island pine. It was an impulse purchase around the holidays several years ago and was sadly sprayed with some glitter stuff. Over the next couple of years, I babied the plant as it lost stems and needles covered in the toxic junk. It is now in its third pot and healthy as a horse, but it took time and effort to get it to recover from being smothered in the spray. Why do they have to do that anyway?

This little tree is my Christmas tree. It is now about 5 feet (2 m.) tall, in a red, lightweight but convincing plastic container. It has withstood three moves, two kittens, and variances of light. This stoic tree gets decorated with LED lights and festive balls for the holidays. It is topped with a Christmas cat angel. It gets a bit mauled during the season by our various cats, but always comes out just fine after New Year’s when I remove all its adornments.

Norfolk pines are conifers native to the island of Norfolk. It is not a true pine and is not reliably hardy in any zone with a cold winter. They make excellent and statuesque houseplants and their elegant shape lends them beautifully to a stint as the perfect Christmas tree alternative. They are very adaptable to various light situations and can thrive even when pot bound, but prefer a little leg room.

Where I live my little tree can go outside on the patio in a semi-shaded location during the warm months. Then it must go indoors where it enjoys a muted light situation. These are tropical trees and enjoy temperate to warm temperatures. The tree isn’t fussy at all. I just fertilize it once in spring with a time release fertilizer that feeds the tree for three months. I only need to repot it when it outgrows its container, which will soon be time to do again.

Norfolk Pine Christmas Tree

My Norfolk Island pine makes the perfect Christmas tree. It is not too big, just the right size for our small family, and it adapts well to smaller decorations. While most of the year it is just a big plant in the living room, this tree really shines at Christmas time. As an added bonus, I’m not contributing to deforestation or landfill overload. It simply assumes its mantle as the queen of the house in winter and becomes an unassuming member of my indoor plant community the rest of the time.

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