Even thought I have the OH TO BIG garden, I really am not that much into house plants. Years ago, in a different house, I had wide window sills, and radiators to grow house plants on. But, it is now a different time, and I only have one house plant, a Norfolk Island Pine. The Norfolk pine was originally given to my sister as a gift. She kept it for a while, and then felt I could manage it better. When I got it, the Norfolk Island Pine was a small plant, about two foot tall. I repotted it, and over the years it grew into quite a nice 6 foot tall specimen. Or, should I say, the pot and plant reached the 6 foot mark.
One day, I looked at it, and thought it had gotten a bit to tall and wide. Since I was now the owner of that plant, and really did not have much emotional attachment to it, I thought I was going to give it a HAIR CUT, and see what happens. I thought, if it lives it lives. If it dies it dies. So this is what I did to it….
First, I decided how tall I only wanted the Norfolk Island Pine to be. I decided that the pot and plant TOGETHER, would be only 4 feet tall. You only have one chance to decide, so choose carefully! Once you make the cut, you can’t glue it back on. The decided height, will be the height of the plant for the rest of its life.
Second, Cut off the top of the tree, just above, where the branches grow out from the trunk. This will now be the new top of the tree. Don’t worry about the cut, in time it will heal over, and form a kind of scarred ring.
Third, Now it is time to RESHAPE the tree, decreasing the length of ALL, or most of the branches. The branches of the Norfolk Island Pine form a kind of upside down “V“, or chevron pattern, as they grow our from the trunk. Take a pair of sharp scissors, or hand pruners, and coming up from the branch’s END MOST TIP, decide how short you want the branch to be, and clip it at the center of that stem. You can make many short clips, at it, if you are afraid, until you get it the length where you want it to be. The first clip is the scariest, but in no time, you will be a pro. Now work around the tree, from top to bottom, and decrease the length of the branches, making sure to keep its natural cone shape. Think shorter branches at the top, and longer at the bottom. In spots, if you need to, shorten the V-shaped needle growth, reforming the branches to a more natural look. It is like cutting the Norfolk Island Pine’s mustache a bit.
While writing this post, I am thinking about how long ago I trimmed my Norfolk Island Pine? It has been at least ten years, and the plant is still alive. The only growth the plant has made is that its trunk has gotten thicker. On occasion, the Norfolk Island Pine tries to shoot up a new terminal bud (new growth tip, to try to increase its height again), but I pinch it off to keep the plant the same size.
So tell me, have you ever given a Norfolk Island Pine a hair cut? Clipped its mustache?
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