Answer: Your Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) is native to Norfolk Island in the southern Pacific Ocean, east of Australia. It is not hardy outdoors in the Pacific Northwest so you'll need to grow it indoors. Fortunately, it is rather slow growing so it shouldn't outgrow its space indoors for quite a few years.
The ideal indoor climate for this species is cool and bright; it responds well to daytime temperatures ranging from 60-70 F and slightly cooler at night. Although the Norfolk Island pine will adapt to bright indirect light, the plant will look its best with a couple of hours of direct sunlight daily. If the light source is coming from just one direction, you'll want to rotate the plant a quarter turn weekly to keep it from tilting toward one side.
When the plant is actively growing, feed it with a fertilizer formulated for indoor foliage plants. It is not unusual for the plant to be in a period of rest during the winter months, at which time there is no need to fertilize.
Water the plant when the top inch or so of the soil in the pot feels dry. Use enough water to allow a little excess to escape through the bottom drainage holes. Discard remaining drained water after about 15 minutes.
What is most challenging for the typical home gardener is giving this plant the high relative humidity it needs. Norfolk Island pine thrives at 50 percent relative humidity, yet it is not unusual for the average house to drop to 15 percent during the winter heating season, unless steps are taken to increase moisture in the air. Running a humidifier will increase both people and plant comfort and is the most effective way to adequately raise the humidity.
It is not unusual for a few needles on the lowest branches to turn brown and drop. If this happens slowly over time, it's likely just normal aging of the branches or possibly from lower light availability. However, if many needles are browning, or if the problem appears more widely distributed among the branches, look to problems of either too much or too little water or too little relative humidity.
I hope this information is helpful!
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