The Q&A Archives: Pruning Norfolk Pine

Question: My Norfolk pine hasn't produced a central branch. Is it recommended to prune the side branches to encourage growth of a central branch?

Answer: The natural form of a Norfolk Island pine is pyramidal, with a central leader and symmetrical branching. If your plant doesn't have a distinct top, the bud may have been damaged sometime during its life. You can train one of the side branches to take the place of the missing central leader, or you can allow the plant to do this itself.

To train, gently prop one of the side branches up so the tip of the branch becomes the top of the tree. Use soft material to hold it in place (a strip of old nylon stocking will work). Don't force the branch completely upright all at once, but train it a bit at a time. Eventually the tree will get the message and begin to give the branch you've trained upright the growth hormones necessary for it to become the central leader.

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