The Q&A Archives: auraucaria heterophylla

Question: I am trying to find a norfolk island pine with a very stiff formal and symmetrical look, with single trunk with branches widely spaced. I was told that they look this way when when grown outdoors. But I have seen some young examples that are more relaxed looking. I live in Oakland Ca - it's nearly frost free here and there are tall old araucarias here and there in older neighborhoods.

Are there multiple named cultivars, or does one just take a chance on what the tree might look like as it matures?

Answer: What you've learned is true. Norfolk Island pines are stiff and upright when grown outdoors but tend to be more relaxed when grown indoors. A plant started in a greenhouse will adapt to growing outdoors in your gardening region. I'd start with a young plant (5-gallon or less) and plant it outdoors in early spring. It will have all summer and fall to harden up. When it begins growing the following spring, the trunk and branches will put on girth, which will make them more rigid. As it matures it will take on the same appearance as those you've seen in the neighborhood.

Best wishes with your landscape!

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