Norfolk Pine growing outside in the Sonoran Desert

TrooperRatJuly 21, 2012

I have read a LOT of different sites with experts claiming that Norfolk pines do not grow well outside in Arizona or the rest of the U.S. for that matter and will only do well as a potted plant inside of your house.

So, I wanted to throw this out there to see what kind of logic may ensue.

I bought 4 Norfolk Pines after Christmas at a Home Depot 4 years ago. I had no clue that these trees were nothing like any pine trees to be found in the States. I planted 3 of them in the direct sunlight, figuring they would love that and then another one in front of my house.

The 3 in direct sunlight eventually died out, as one would expect once you start learning about them. The 4th one, however, did not die. It does not get direct sunlight.

However, it has sustained summers that go above 110 degrees for days and weeks at a time. It is VERY dry here. The experts suggest that to survive, these trees must be in a humid area of at least 50% humidity. During the Monsoon season - which we are currently in - the humidity levels do go up, but still rarely even approach 50%.

This tree has also survived a moderate frost event. The ends of some of the branches died out - or so it appeared, only to find next summer that it started growing again beyond the dead spot and putting out new needles. The temperature the night that happened was somewhere around 25 degrees. I have a lot of plants on my property and some of them sustained heavy damage, but after 2 years they have all made a comeback, thankfully.

During the summer, I water this tree at least every other day, sometimes every day. Again, I have a lot of plants and trees on my property, I have to do a lot of watering to keep everything growing and alive. It is also planted right next to where my drain pipe comes out of the house for removing the condensation from the air conditioning, so in reality, this tree gets a LOT of water during the summer.

The question is, how is this tree surviving in an area where, allegedly, they cannot survive outside? I find it interesting that this thing is defying all odds, so to speak. It doesn't grow very fast, admittedly, but it is a beautiful little tree that adds to the appearance and ambiance of my front yard.

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Who ever told you they are difficult or don't grow in the U.S. has never been to Florida. South of the lake, they are so common as to be overused. They will survive a light frost, and with water, they will thrive. The thing about dry climate is their propensity to die from mites.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 6:51PM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

Did you make any effort to substantiate the labeling as "Norfolk Pines"? Around Christmas time I wouldn't trust the identification on the label of anything unless I were familiar with the plant myself. For example "Many of the "Norfolk Island pines" growing in Hawaii, including their descendants growing as potted ornamentals on the U.S. mainland, are actually Cook pines, the two species having been confused when introduced.".

"[Cook Pine] is cultivated in ... southern California, Mexico, and Hawaii."

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 1:21PM
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Hi. Just found your post. I live in San Rafael, Ca and have a norfolk pine in my garden......... 5 years now and it is beautiful although it has some yellowing I have not noticed before. I have never fertilized it, wonder If I should>

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 12:11AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

It is a member of the Aruaucaria family which pre date pine trees lol There are around 20 species . At one time they were the most common tree but are now limited to western pacific and s. america. They grow very well in s florida in fact to the point of being a weed.
they are freeze .low humidity and drought sensitive so you will have difficulty over the long term but then you probably have no desire to get it to the 200 foot level lol??
An interesting side note to the family is they appear to
have been the main diet of sauropod
Good luck with it suspect that it will decline over time but if you religiously water it and no hard freezes?? gary

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 5:24AM
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