Norfolk Pine Branch Tips Curling Downward

Asked June 19, 2013, 9:57 PM EDT

Lately some of my branches have started curling downward and appear to be dryer and stiffer than those that extend outward. I water my NP every 8 days and dispose of the excess water after 15-20 minutes. I spray the branches generously with water (spray bottle) every night.

Only a couple of small pieces of the branches have broken off in the last few months. One branch is starting to turn turning brown, and several seem to be showing signs of drying.

What is the probable problem??

Thanks much.

Tangipahoa Parish Louisiana

3 Responses

Dear Norfy Parent:

I spoke with our resident NP cultivator who has successfully kept his for 20 years and 4-5 repottings. He conferred with my suggestion to try repotting in a larger diameter pot and new soil to see if that alleviates some of the symptoms. I can't say definitively without a picture or nutrient levels from a plant or soil sample....but it's possible that either your salts are too high from fertilizer residual or evaporation ( no fault of your own) or the soil is in need of nutrients from constant water leaching or is basically played out from supporting the tree over its lifetime.

Sorry to be wishy washy on this but let's try the least draastic measure and see if we get some improvement. Good luck.


Thanks for your valuable advice. I believe that I was using too much water and was flushing the nutrients from the soil. I've been adding small amounts of fertilizer infused water to stabilize my Norfolk Pine--with the goal of repotting it in a few days.

Advice needed (please): what mixture should I use for repotting? I have read that a ratio of 3 peat moss to 1 sand is a good mixture. Is this correct? Also--what type of sand? Will sand advertised for a child's sand box work--or is there a special type of potting sand?

I have read it is good to mix some perlite with the peat moss/sand, but I have also read some negative reviews of perlite in terms of bad ph. Any suggestions?

Should I add organic potting soil to the mix, or should I add a fertilizer enriched potting mix (given the previous nutrient deficiency).

How much of the old mixture from the old container should I retain in the transplant.

Thanks in advance for advice. You and your colleagues provide a valuable and much appreciated service.

Most reputable nurseries and plant suppliers will offer great advice on the best choice of soil mixtures to use. Those with perlite and slow release fertilizer will likely yield the best results. Be mindful that the sand and peat moss mixes are largely devoid of fertilizer the way a natural soil would be. So opting fore a mixture with slow-release fertilier already incorporated will make like easy and ensure success. If you choose to add it your self...use a slow release or low X-X-X mixture usually in the single digits. For instance I fertilized the garden plants this week with an organic 4-2-6 mixture for tomatoes....Low fertilizer rates like that are ideal and will allow you to not burn or overload the plant. Follwo lable directions and you'll be fine. less is often more when it comes to plants....especially those that are in shock from transplanting.

Our recent foray into container gardens have been successful using a pre-fertilized mixture. The prepared mixtures are sterile and have been treated to remove or reduce many of the soil borne pathogens that can arise from native soils. Almost any choice would be fine. If you want to be certain or success you might try an acid loving plant mixture that would be conducive to pine growth over a gardening plant mixture which might be more neutral ph.

I think you are on the right track. Good luck