By Doug Jimerson
Ever dream of spending the holidays in a cozy cottage in the North Woods? If so, there’s no need to book a flight to Canada when you can transform any room in your home into a gorgeous pine-filled forest that stays fresh and green all year long. With Norfolk Island pines you can create your own miniature wilderness, especially when you cluster young trees together on a mantle, near a windowsill, or as a table centerpiece.
Although Norfolk Island pines are not true pines, they thrive indoors and mimic the look and feel of outdoor trees. Tall specimens make great substitutes for traditional Christmas trees such as pines and spruces. Plus, after the holidays you can grow them as houseplants and use them the following year.
But, don’t overlook the decorating possibilities with small and medium sized Norfolk Island pines. These little guys are very adaptable and can be clustered together to create a miniature forest. Here are some examples we photographed at a secluded lakeside lodge.
Line a Mantle
Even the smallest Norfolk pines can have a big impact when you line them up on a fireplace mantle. Here, six cheerful little trees give a hand-crafted oak mantel a big dose of holiday spirit. The stone ram’s head could easily be mistaken for one of Santa’s reindeer. Just be sure your plants don’t get too hot if you stoke up the fireplace. And check to make sure your fireplace doesn't let in cold drafts that could make these tropical trees sulk.
Decorate a Bathroom
You can use Norfolk Island pines dramatically in every room of your house. Here, a single pine planted in a birch bark container looks terrific even though this tiny bathroom has no windows. Once the holidays are over, the plant is moved to a brighter spot where it can soak up natural light and grow faster.
One of our favorite things about Norfolk Island pines is that you can grow them in low, medium, or bright spots of your home (though they do best in the bright spots). And they don't need natural light, either -- these tropical trees do just fine under fluorescent lights.
Brighten a Buffet
Give an empty side table or buffet a quick and easy holiday makeover with decorated Norfolk pines. This cheerful trio sits happily atop a table runner made from thin slices of real pine. The colorful wrapping paper also helps prevent runoff after the plants are watered.
Trim a Hearth
Give Santa a colorful treat when he comes down the chimney by placing a few decorated Norfolk Island pines on the hearth. Not only do these trees make a gorgeous addition to your home, they also make fabulous excellent last-minute gifts for any unexpected guests that show up over the holidays.
Learn more about Norfolk Island pines.
Norfolk Pine Care
Norfolk pines are super easy to grow. Just place them in a bright location and water whenever the soil feels dry to the touch. Over time, if some of the lower branches begin to yellow it’s a sign your plant isn’t getting enough light. For even growth, turn the plant every few weeks so it doesn’t lean towards the light. Most Norfolk pines benefit from a summer vacation outdoors. After frost danger has passed move your pines to a partially shady location protected from high winds. Never set a Norfolk Pine into an exposed, dry, or sunny spot. Feed your plants once a month with a balanced houseplant fertilizer.