Caring for Indoor Plants - Knowledgebase Question

Bear Creek Township, PA (Zone 5B)
Avatar for ndas8
Question by ndas8
April 8, 2005
I bought two 3.5 feet tall Norfolk Island pine indoor plant. I have been watering both once a week. Both plants are facing the east window right now, though one of the plants was previously facing the west window. The plant that was facing west appears to be withering away. The foilage is getting dry and dull. I tried to prune the dead foilage, but it did not help much. Can you advice as to what I need to do to revive the plant?

Answer from NGA
April 8, 2005
These plants (Araucaria heterophylla) can be very hard to keep indoors over the winter. In our heated indoor air that is naturally dry, they really suffer. Ideally you would have a bright location that is partly heated to only about 50 degrees at night and slightly warmer in the day and also quite humid, as much as 50% humidity. (You would probably need a humidifier to get it this high.) They also need good air circulation. An east window should be fine, west is usually ok also as long as the room does not heat up too much from solar gain during the day. The cooler the room the less dry it will be. You need to water to keep the soil moist but not saturated or sopping wet. There is no set schedule for watring, you have to dig into the soil with your finger and feel it. If it is still moist, don't water yet. Do not overfertilize, feed only about every three months during the growing season with a water soluble fertilizer such as 10-10-10 plus minors, water the soil but do not apply it to the foliage. Based on your description I am not sure if the plant had too much sun, dried out soil, too much water or too little humidity. I would try to optimize the conditions as best you can and wait and see. In the meantime, I would also check it carefully for signs of spider mites. This pest is very small but leaves fine webbing along the foliage or stem. If you find this, treat them both with commercially formulated insecticidal soap per the label instructions. Raising the humidity will also help fight them. I hope this helps!

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