Growth of Norfolk Island Pine

I own a 10-year-old or so Norfolk Island Pine (or something like that). It is in a small pot (but is thriving), and lives in our sunroom that gets plenty of direct sunlight, since we’re on the top of a mountain and it faces north, east and west. I mean, this thing is REALLY thriving. Our sunroom is maybe 10-12’ tall, and the tree is brushing the top and has no intentions of stopping. Is it possible to whack off a few inches at the top, tar it, and it’ll stay short and live forever? Will it just sprout…another top to the side of the tar, and can I prevent that by tarring say, half a foot of the top and putting a decoration to cover the tar? I don’t want the plant to die, but I don’t want to have to move it to the living room and have it spend a few years hitting the 25’ ceiling, and then having nowhere to put it but outside. I’m on a mountain near SLC, so I think it’d be too cold to transplant it. And what about its pot? Do people even sell pots that could house such a plant? Do I need to bother, since it’s never minded in the past? I love the tree, I have grown up with it, and don’t want it to come to any harm.

There are a few sites out there on Norfolk Island Pine plant care, Toaster. They do warn against pruning the top, as you could well spoil the symmetry of the plant through damage.

This site suggests pruning the roots instead to maintain the desired height.

>_< That site was right, moving that tree amongst 6 different houses across America was awful.

This tree is in what most would call a tiny pot, it’s 8 fl. gallons (or ~20lb of soil). It has about 3" of trunk at the top after the last…starry…branchy thingy, so lopping off that and tarring it wouldn’t cause any symmetry problems I would imagine. It’s not that symmetrical to begin with, since it fell down and broke half a limb off. We have incredibly little soil here, not even enough to plant flowers in without importing lots and lots of topsoil; the mountain is made out of sand and gravel (heck, the other side is always being blasted for a concrete company), so I dunno if it’d survive well in the extremely high winds we get all the time and the lack of soil. Hence…is tarring really an awful option, or what size smaller pot ought we stick the tree in?

Just a WAG, here – I’d say the pine would still grow, even if you did take the top off. Cutting the roots seems the better option, all aesthetics aside.

There’s not a lot I can find online, pro or con, about applying tar to the tree, Toaster. If there is a good plant nursery near you, or a gardening club of some kind, I’d ask there, just to be sure.

Good on you for having a Norfolk, btw – I love 'em, myself. :slight_smile:

All right, thanks guys. I’ll look into root-cutting (it’s about time to change its soil anyway), see about how much to lop off. Hopefully it’ll get a clue and stop growing. :o The tree hasn’t got much sense, it managed to fall over and break its one limb when it was super-windy 80+ mph winds…except it was inside. :rolleyes:

I wouldn’t top it, it’ll just branch out & keep growing upwards. Trimming the roots might slow it down for a few months, but isn’t going to halt upward growth. You have a healthy, happy tree on your hands. If you want it to stay small you’d have to bonsai it. It’s already too big for that.

Bottom line is, you want it to stay healthy & pretty but not grow. Doesn’t work with kids, doesn’t work with trees.

The only solution I can think of, and it’s drastic, would be to “air layer” it. That is, make some incisions in the trunk a couple few feet about the soil line, pack them with moist peat moss & rooting hormone & wait for roots to develop (there’s way more info about this on-line). Then you chop off the bottom of the plant & replant it in a smaller pot.

Or plant it outside in the spring. NIP’s can take light frosts once they’ve acclimated. You guys don’t get a lot of deep freezes do you?

I have no idea if we get deep freezes; this is our second winter here. I’m pretty sure freezing isn’t a problem; at least on this mountain, to freeze deeper than an inch or three it’d have to start freezing through a gigantic layer of dense gravel and sand, but the few flowers we’ve managed to grow don’t ever freeze and die during winter. It’s always the horrid deer that kill them by eating them all. :mad: I guess we’ll go to some of the numerous local nurseries to see if they recommend planting it or scoring it. The next one I get I’ll bonsai it though, I don’t want to go through this hassle again, oy.