Can Norfolk Island Pines be pruned?

rosebuddy(z5Ont)September 30, 2006

I have been growing a Norfolk Island Pine in my terrarium where it has been very happy. Right now it's about an inch and a half away from the top of the terrarium. I know it is still a way from actually hitting the top, but I'd love to keep it where it's doing so well and am wondering if I will be able to prune off the tops when the time comes that it gets too tall. I've had these plants as just houseplants, and haven't had great luck with them in normal conditions. My guess is a big No, but am hoping my instinct is wrong.

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My guess is that your instinct is absolutely right. Top pruning would permanently deform this plant, wouldn't it? It just never occurred to me that any Araucaria might be a candidate for terrarium culture, so I'm fascinated by the concept. Is your container quite huge?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2006 at 8:39PM
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It's an old 29 gallon fish aquarium (which I turned into a terrarium to justify the cost of moving my fish to a 55 gallon tank). Probably 18 inches high by 2 1/2 feet long. I put the pine in as a fairly young plant, actually just more than a seedling. I keep it in a pot which I bury, just to try to keep it small, but as I say, it's so happy in there that I'll have to take it out unless I can prune it back.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2006 at 2:50PM
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Rose, you really can't prune a Norfolk'll get side branches instead of upright needles. Toni

    Bookmark   October 1, 2006 at 6:13PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

It will form a new leader, which will take the place of the old growing point. It will never look quite right, and you'll not accomplish anything by cutting it back.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 1:19PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Unfortunately, it will look deformed if you "top" it. Truly you are better off to take it out of the terrarium than to prune it.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 2:11PM
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Thanks for the replies! I'm just worried that I'll end up killing it by moving it out of its home to a much drier location even if I put it on a pepple tray. So, not to gnaw an old bone too much, but would I actually do damage to its health by cutting off the tops? I understand now that it would be deformed, but could I shape it into a shrub? Just thinking ahead, it's still fine for awhile.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 4:16PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

No. This is one plant that will not respond well to the constant removal of the main growing point. Remove it from the terrarium and transplant it. It will do fine; they aren't that fragile.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 9:20AM
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karen715(z5 IL)

Agreed. A key feature of plants that do well when pruned into shrub form, is that they will produce multiple growing points when pruned. That is why they look bushy or shrub-like. An NIP will not do that, it will keep producing that single central leader. I'm inclined to think that constantly removing that will have a detrimental effect on the plants health in the long run.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 11:54AM
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I have a 6 foot Norfolk pine with about three inch Trunk diameter, I have been top pruning for the past 3 years so I can still bring it in during the winter months, I will have to start to prune the branches because they are continuing to grow out and are as long as the tree is tall. They have sprouts coming out of the branches forming new branches, the thing looks like a natural umbrella, all the lower branches have fallen off. It is about 20 years old, I'm trying to see if I can get it to produces cones. it tries to produce bubs at the top cutting every few weeks, I just scrape them with my finger nail when I see them.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 10:57AM
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buds not bubs

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 11:00AM
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