Why is my Norfolk Pine Limp and Drooping?

Norfolk Pine
Norfolk Pine (Source: Pexels)

Is your Norfolk pine limp and drooping? If so, we share a common problem, which, I would rather say, occurred to us at a different time.

Back in 2018, I introduced Norfolk pine to my home. I was so excited to celebrate Christmas of that year with a living tree that I grew by myself.

But, in November, my plant started to limp and droop. Its branches were falling off, and my dream was shattering every day and night with the falling off of needles and branches.

Though I could not decorate my Norfolk pine as a Christmas tree that year, I did in the years later.

Generally, factors like low lighting condition, underwatering, overwatering, nutritional deficiencies, low humidity, fluctuating, and low temperature causes limpness and droopiness in Norfolk pine. 

Norfolk pine
Norfolk pine (Source: Pixabay)

I learned about the meticulous care of Norfolk Pine from my experiences and various articles found on the internet.

My knowledge helped me save my Norfolk pine from limping and drooping.

So, I am up here to share the same practical tips and tricks I learned growing Norfolk pine.

Read the full article to get a better glimpse of what’s going on with your Norfolk pine.

Is it Normal for Norfolk Pine to Become Limp and Droopy?

Droopy and limp leaves on your Norfolk pine might have had hit hard on you. But, hey, don’t get overwhelmed.

It is normal for Norfolk pine to become limp and droopy. Its branches and needles droop, and the tips fall off even when the plant is provided with the best care.

However, you must put a constant eye on the number of needles or branch loss.

If only a few needles or lower branches are dropping, it is entirely okay.

But, if your Norfolk pine is shedding needles or branches from different parts or its various parts appear dry and brown, there might be some underlying problem the plant is facing.

Droopy and limp branches in the entire plant are a clear symbol of improper growing situations.

But why is your Norfolk pine limp and drooping?

Various factors like lightning condition, low humidity, erratic watering, nutrition deficiencies are responsible for it.

Norfolk pines are adapted to high humidity and moisture as they are native to tropical climates.

Therefore, maintaining an ideal condition might help to rejuvenate your plant.

Falling off needles
Falling off needles (Source: Pixabay)

Causes of Limpness and Droopiness  in Norfolk Pine

Have you been thinking, what’s going wrong with your Norfolk pine? Why exactly is your Norfolk pine limp and drooping?

Well, we have already discussed limpness and droopiness in Norfolk Pine as natural tendencies.

But, remember there is an underlying problem when your Pine exhibits droopiness and limpness around the entire plant.

So, Sneak a peek at your plant regularly so that you can address its problem and resolve it in time.

Check for plant nutrition, lighting condition, temperature, and moisture level in the soil and environment if your Pine is drooping and limp.

When it comes to Norfolk Pine unfavorable environmental condition is its culprit. However, fixing the environment can help troubleshoot your problem.

Here are some possible causes to why your Norfolk Pine is limp and drooping.

Also, I have mentioned the solutions and preventive measures for the same.

1. Insufficient Light

When it comes to the Norfolk plants, proper and sufficient light is key for their healthier growth.

They prefer bright indirect light to direct sunlight.

For their best growth, provide them with 16 hours of indirect bright light with 4-5 hours of direct sunlight.

The light requirement for the plant is comparable to light meter measures of at least 6,000-foot-candles. 

Indirect Sunlight
Insufficient  Sunlight (Source: Unsplash.com)

However, remember they do not do good at the scorching sun, and best enjoy the morning sun or afternoon shade.

It can grow in low light, but I do not recommend it. In low or insufficient light, the plant goes to survival mode and branches appear droopy, and the plant becomes leggy.

When the plant becomes subject to insufficient light, chlorophyll cannot function at its best. As a result of decreased photosynthesis rate, needles of the plant lose their dark green pigmentation. If lighting cannot be improved at this point, the needles turn yellow, droop, and fall off.  

If the lighting condition cannot be improved further, the entire branch starts falling off to save energy.

Insufficient light especially causes drooping or falling of the lower branches.

Also, if the plant is moved to low light from a brighter light, it may appear limp and droopy because of insufficient light.

Solutions

  • Move the plant to a location where it receives enough light. Southern-facing or west-facing window is best recommended.
  • Provide the plant with 4 to 5 hours of morning light or afternoon shade for quick recovery.
  • If you have moved Norfolk pine from a brighter area to a low light area, readjust the plant’s location to a brighter space.
  • Use artificial lights if your plant is subject to insufficient light. The plant does well in 12-16 hours of fluorescent lights.

Preventive Measures

  • Always grow your Norfolk pine in a brighter space or use alternative light sources.
  • Turn the plant to avoid asymmetrical growing and unhealthier branches.
  • Do not move the plant from brighter space to low light space as it stresses the plant.

2. Temperature Extremities

Another cause for limp and droopy Norfolk pine is fluctuating temperature and extremely high or low temperature.

The ideal temperature for Norfolk pine is 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Interestingly,  the temperature indoors is similar to it, so your plant can easily thrive there.

Extremely fluctuating temperature causes stress in the plant; as a result, the branches may droop and become limp. Moreover, excessive stress can kill your Norfolk pine.

Furthermore, temperature above 95 °F causes damages to the tips of the plant, and temperature below 30°F causes stunt growth in Norfolk pines. All these can consequently make your Norfolk pine limp and drooping.

Solutions

  • Place your Norfolk pine away from drafty areas near heating or cooling vents.
  • Cut off the droopy and brown branches as they do not readjust and cost extra energy for the plant.
  • Increasing the humidity around the plant helps to balance high temperatures indoors.
  • Keep your plant away from the area where the temperature often fluctuates. Putting Norfolk pine by windows in winter can cause stress in the plant, especially if the window turns icy cold at night and warm during the day.

Preventive Measures 

  • Avoid drafty areas and fluctuating temperatures for Norfolk pine.
  • Avoid extreme exposure of Norfolk pines to the sun.

3. Low Humidity

Norfolk pines are native to the tropical climate, which is characterized by higher temperature and humidity. Therefore, they require high humidity for healthier growth.

Norfolk pine requires about 50% of the relative humidity for proper growth.

As they naturally grow nearby the ocean, they are adapted to high humidity.

You might experience difficulty growing Norfolk pines indoors because of low humidity, as it causes droopiness and limpness in the plant.

Low humidity results in an increased transpiration rate, and to prevent excessive water loss from transpiration, Norfolk pine droops, and welts.

Solutions

  • Increase the humidity around the plant. You can do so by using a humidifier, misting the plant, or placing a wet pebble tray below the plant.
  • Cut off lower droopy branches as it decreases the rate of transpiration in the dry air.
  • Providing a shower to the plant might also help in rejuvenating it as it increases humidity.
  • Group your houseplants with Norfolk Pine as it helps in coping up with the low humid environment.

Preventive Measures

  • Use a hygrometer to measure humidity around the plant and increase the humidity if necessary.
  • Pay special attention to humidity around the plant if your place experiences dry winter.
  • Frequently mist your plant if you do not have access to a humidifier.

4. Underwatering

Do you have a proper watering schedule? Does your Norfolk pine get enough water?

Well, if you have doubts regarding these questions, your Norfolk pine is probably experiencing underwatering problems.

Underwatering in Norfolk pine results in droopiness. It becomes brown, crispy, and droops when the plant is underwater, and the needles fall off the plant.

When your Norfolk pine does not receive sufficient water, it adopts a defense mechanism to reciprocate it. As a result, it starts shedding leaves, and to ease the process, the plant becomes limp and droopy.

Norfolk pines cannot tolerate extreme exposure to droughts and erratic watering behavior.

Pine tree drooping
Pine Tree Drooping ( Source: Pixabay)

So if your Norfolk pine is limp and drooping, do not forget to check when was the last time you watered it.

It is not good for your Norfolk pine to have incredibly dry soil.

Solutions

  • Water the plant immediately until the water does not drain from drainage holes.
  • Keep the soil slightly moist but not soggy as it increases the chances of root rot.
  • If the soil is pulled away from the pot, gently push the soil around the perimeter of the pot before watering. It ensures that the water is absorbed well in the soil.

Preventive Measures

  • Establish a proper watering schedule to prevent the dryness of the soil. Always water the plant thoroughly until water runs out of the drainage holes.
  • Always maintain soil moisture. Water the plant when the top 25% portion of the soil is dry.
  • Water Your Norfolk pine every 1 to 2 times a week in summer and once or twice in winter.

Learn more about limping and drooping of Croton, Peperomia, and Aloe vera plant.

5. Overwatering

The drooping and limpness in Norfolk Pine are generally because of water-related issues.

However, since it generally involves either underwatering or overwatering issues, sometimes it is confusing to identify the particular cause.

However, you can easily find that as an underwatered plant turns yellow, brown, or crispy, an overwater plant appears yellow, brown and soft, or limp. Both of the causes results in drooping of the leaves or branches.

When the plant is overwatered in Norfolk Pine, its branches drop, and its Green needles fall off.

Unlike underwatering, the needles or branches appear soft and limp in case of overwatering.

The easiest way to determine whether the plants require watering is to insert a stick into the pot.

If the stick appears moist and damp, you need not water them.

Watering the Plants
Watering the Plants (Source: Pexels.com)

Solutions

  • Remove droopy and limp branches.
  • Do not water your plant until the top layer of the soil dries out.

Preventive Measures

  • Set a watering schedule.
  • Use the stick method mentioned above to identify whether the plant requires water or not.
  • Do not leave the soil soggy, and empty the saucer every time the water drains off the pot.

6. Insufficient Fertilizer

How can you expect your plant to be healthy without proper nutrition?

I say plants are like humans that need food and water to thrive on.

By now, you might have understood why your Norfolk pine is limp and drooping.

Nutritional deficiencies in the plant cause stunt growth accompanied by limpness and droopiness.

However, excessive fertilizer also sometimes results in leaf burn and droopiness.

In such cases, the branches generally appear burnt and droopy.

Fertilizers contain minerals and salts. When you overfertilize your plant,  the accumulated fertilizer salts in tissues cause reverse osmosis and moisture loss. It leads to drooping and wilting of leaves.

Fertilizer
Vermicomposting (Source: Pexels.com)

Generally, Norfolk pine does not require frequent fertilization, especially when grown outdoors.

However, they require feeding when potted.

Therefore, fertilizing your Norfolk pine 2 to 3 times during the growing period is sufficient. 

Solutions

  • Fertilize your plant immediately with a balanced NKP fertilizer (15-15-15). Add 1 ½ teaspoon of balanced fertilizer in a gallon of water and apply to the plant.
  • You can also apply organic fertilizer, vermicompost, or any other light fertilizer.
  • In case of excessive fertilization, drench the pot in a pool of water. It washes off excessive fertilizer and salts present in the soil.

Preventive Measures

  • Fertilize your plant with light fertilizer every 2-3 times a year.
  • Do not over fertilizer the plant while it undergoes dormancy.

7. Root Injuries and Root Rot

The roots of Norfolk Pine are extremely susceptible and weak. When you move the plant frequently, it may injure the root.

Injured roots show tell-tell signs in the plant’s upper part, such as droopy branches and stunt growth.

Though root rot also causes droopy leaves in Norfolk Pine, it is the least probable cause for drooping of Norfolk Pine.

When the Norfolk pine undergoes gradual root rot, it stresses the plant.

As a result, the roots become unable to provide the necessary nutrition to the plant.

Consequently, the plant reciprocates through needle loss and branch loss.

Moreover, severe root rot causes welting and dying of the plant within a few days.

Causes of Root Rot in Norfolk Pine

There are two prominent causes of root rot in Norfolk Pine. The most common is overwatering, which ultimately leads to Pythium root rot.

Pythium is a fungus that develops in soggy and poorly draining soil. The species of pythium fungi causes root rot in Norfolk Pine.

Solutions

  • Cut off some of the lower branches to save plant energy and leave the plant to heal naturally. However, if the root is seriously injured, the plant might not revive.
  • To revive your plant from the attack of Pythium root rot, remove dead roots and cut off lower branches of the plant. Next, repot the plant with well-draining soil in a container that has good drainage holes.

Preventive Measures

  • Do not move the plant frequently.
  • Chose a correct spot that supports a favorable growing environment for your Norfolk pine.

8. Disease and Pest infestation

Sometimes diseases and pests can also cause limping, yellowing, wilting, and drooping of Norfolk pines.

Generally, if diseases can be spotted in the earlier stage, they can be cured.

When severely attacked and neglected, the plant cannot be revived and hence dies.

Here is the list of diseases and pests, their symptoms, and solutions in Norfolk Pine.

Pests and Diseases in Norfolk PineSymptomsSolutions
Mealybugs Stunt growth, wilting and drooping of needles. Remove visible Mealybugs using cotton balls dipped in alcohol.
Spray Neem oil to the entire plant.
Scale Plant looks withered accompanied by yellowing and drooping needles. Use horticultural oil spray.
AnthracnoseNeedles and branches turn brown and droopkeep the surface of needles and branches dry.
DiebackTop branches droop and fall, which gradually spreads to bottom portionDeadhead infected part and spray horticultural oil

Tips to Take care

Norfolk pine is not high care demanding plant. However, the environment should be favorable supporting high humidity and sufficient light.

Here is a quick overview of the conditions that Norfolk Pine needs for healthier growth.

Parameters Favorable condition
Light 12 to 18 hours of bright indirect light with 4 to 5 hours of morning light or afternoon shades.
Temperature 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit
Watering 1 to 2 times a week in summer and once or twice a month in winter
Soil TypeFast draining, porous soil that supports aeration
Humidity Above 50% of the relative humidity
Fertilization Every 2 to 3 times during the growing period

Below are some additional tips that you should care for if your space is home to Norfolk pines.

  • Rotate your plant once a week for balanced growth.
  • A healthier Norfolk pine has 5 to 6 branches per node. If your Norfolk pine lacks this feature, check for lighting conditions.
  • If your plant is receiving insufficient light, you can always opt for artificial light.
  • Norfolk pine grows in light, well-draining, and porous soil. It is best if you can maintain your soil slightly acidic however it grows in alkaline soil too.
  • If your Pine is leaning, your pot size is extremely small for the plant. Always take a pot that is 2 inches larger than your Norfolk pine.
  • Norfolk pine root system is weak, so it does not require frequent repotting. However, repotting Norfolk pine every 2 to 4 times is sufficient for its healthier growth. 
  • Norfolk pine does not require special running, unlike other plants. However, it is best if you trim dead foliage and dried lower branches.
  • Prepare your potting mix for Norfolk Pine by mixing equal parts of regular garden soil, Peat moss, sand, and 10% compost.

Conclusion

The only tricker part of having Norfolk pine indoors is maintaining humidity. Unfortunately, its humidity requirement is higher than the humidity in our space.

Well, why worry about it when you have got tips to maintain Norfolk pines’ friendlier humidity indoors?

Besides humidity, you need to care for its light, water, feeding, and temperature requirements.

Next time your Norfolk pine is limp and drooping, check out its environmental conditions.

Shine your Norfolk pine and enjoy your next Christmas with a healthy living tree.

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