The Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) is related to the Chilean Monkey Puzzle and, in its natural habitat, it can reach a height in excess of 50m. Yet, surprisingly perhaps, it makes a good and attractive indoor plant.
As a houseplant it will rarely exceed 1-2m in height and, so long as the conditions remain stable – no draughts; temperature around 18°C; bright light but not full sun; regular water and feed – it can be a rewarding indoor specimen. For more advice on growing the Norfolk Island Pine see this useful YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekgBZWvilNI
Walter Wright, the author of our Vintage Words of Wisdom title Room and Window Gardening, recommends the Norfolk Pine for its distinctive features:
‘It is one of the most desirable of room plants. It is distinct in habit and noble in appearance. The foliage is borne in circular, evenly spaced tiers, and is of a rich, dark-green hue. The development of fresh tiers year-by-year provides considerable interest to the grower.’
The Norfolk Island Pine is indeed a noble-looking plant. Very sculptural, it will maintain a symmetrical, triangular shape reminiscent of the perfect Christmas Tree. In fact, grow one and it could double up as your Christmas Tree in December.
Unfortunately in the UK these trees are only suitable for growing indoors. They are not hardy and the slightest frost will kill them. However, there is one place you can see them outdoors. If you have the opportunity to visit the Abbey Gardens on Tresco in the Scilly Isles – go! It is a fantastic garden and there are a number of Norfolk Island Pines growing there. The sub-tropical microclimate is perfect for these trees and much more besides – King Proteas for example.
A search on the web reveals that Norfolk Island Pines are available as plants and seeds from selected nurseries in the UK. Follow Walter Wright’s advice and you could have an uncommon and most distinctive house plant for a room with plenty of natural light.
And going back to the flag question – the Cyprus flag includes an olive branch. Any others?