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Norfolk Island Pine: Your Live Christmas Tree Alternative

The debate between live and artificial Christmas trees will never end, but the potted tree that lives beyond the holidays is in a class all its own, and is becoming more popular as people seek out sustainable decorating alternatives.</br></br>There are many options for live, potted holiday trees, but the Norfolk Island pine is one of the most popular you’ll find – and if you’ve visited <a title="Lowe's" href="http://www.lowes.com/" target="_blank">your local Lowe’s</a> for holiday prep perhaps you checked out the selection.</br></br>What you may not know, though, is that they don’t tolerate neglect, and if you want yours to live into 2016 you’ll need to show it a little love. Here are some tips:</br></br><strong>1. Pick a good one.</strong></br></br>Healthy Norfolk pines have soft, bright green fronds that don’t droop. Brown, prickly fronds are a bad sign and should be avoided.</br></br>NOTE: You might see glitter on some of these trees. It’s not harmful and will (mostly) shed over time, but it’s not always easy to remove so you may want to keep that in mind.</br></br><strong>2. Maintain a stable temperature.</strong></br></br>Norfolk pines grow well in a wide temperature range, so you needn’t worry about anything beyond severe temp changes, but what they don’t like are the quick, abrupt changes that result from adjusting your thermostat.</br></br>Keep your pine out of drafty areas and heat sources for optimal growth.</br></br><strong>3. Keep it moist, but don’t overwater.</strong></br></br>These are tropical plants that thrive best in moist climates, but overwatering may be the Norfolk pine’s greatest threat. There are two things you can do:</br></br>- Mist your pine with cool water daily or set a bowl of water near it to ramp up humidity.</br>- When watering, wait until soil is dry one inch below the surface, saturate the soil fully, and then wait until it dries again before re-watering.</br></br><strong>4. Keep light bright, but indirect.</strong></br></br>These plants can survive in both low and high light, but they enjoy bright, indirect sunlight the most. Find a spot that doesn’t get direct light but is still well-lit for best results.</br></br><strong>5. Prune only dead, brown branches.</strong></br></br>Norfolk Island pines won’t grow back the branches you prune, so be sure to prune only those that are dead and brown to better support the healthy branches.</br></br><strong>6. Skip the lights (or go LED) when decorating.</strong></br></br>Your pine will tolerate some heat from incandescent bulbs, but not much. Instead, use <a title="LED String Lights" href="https://www.atgstores.com/lighting/outdoor-lighting/string-lights/features/led/" target="_blank">LED lighting</a> or decorate with ornaments only.</br></br>It might seem like a lot, but it’s easy once you get the hang of it, and you’ll then have a beautiful plant that can be a part of your annual tradition every holiday season.
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