michaeleo
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Help identify these trees please :D {Norfolk Island Pine}

Hi My name is Michael, I live in Laval which is a city directly north of Montreal Canada. I used to love gardening and having plants but its been a while and I'm thinking of renewing my hobby by starting herbs, vegetables and hopefully bonsai's! I have an issue right now and I am in need of some advice. I was somewhat put in charge of purchasing and maintaining plants for our office. Now I purchased around 15 plants and make sure to water them every Monday. Now I know there is an adjustment period that plants need when they are in a new environment but its been almost a month and most of them are doing well except two. One is a large 6 foot tree which I do not know the name but looks like a tropical Christmas tree to me and the other is a small desktop plant. Both are looking pretty pathetic and when you touch them they have needles fall off and it feels very brittle. I will attach photos and hopefully someone can help me out. I had posted this ad in the welcome section and rainbowgardener gave me some advice to post it here in hopes to get a better answer. gumbo2176 had replied that maybe its root bound but I had already checked that, everything looks good ....uhh well except the plant lmao. I bought 15 various trees and plants and its just these two giving me a hard time. Thank you very much for identification of these two, good care taking tips and any advice on bringing them back from the brink of death, thanks a bunch and have a green day ;)

Michael from Montreal
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!potatoes!
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Re: Help identify these trees please :D

the first is norfolk island pine (Araucaria heterophylla)

no experience with them, but they're pretty identifiable!

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applestar
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Re: Help identify these trees please :D

I agree the first one is Norfork Island Pine (NIP). It can manage to do well in surprisingly small container for the size of the tree and is pretty drought proof. Another characteristic is that it can handle semi-shade/low light indoor conditions. As such it is a very forgiving houseplant. I have NIP that was originally given to my DD as a small 1 ft desk-top Christmas tree. If I remember correctly it had been a group planting of 3 or 4, but I culled two and the remaining pair in same contsiner are maybe 4+ feet tall now.

So possible issues -- you have it in front of that large window. With winter sun, is it getting exposed to direct sunlight? This plan actually doesn't do well in hot direct sun. Mine are in a interior location and only gets direct morning sun just as it rises. Mine gets additional bright supplemental light from overhead CFL and 4-tube shop light that is about 3 feet away. (This kind of distance is considered inadequate under most circumstances). Even without supplemental light, this plant is best placed in East facing window or West facing window with limited exposure if too hot.

Temperature is another possible problem here. Do you know how cold it gets in the office during the night and over the weekend?

There is a base board heater nearby -- this may mean that the air is too dry. As a tropical, it does better with a fair amount of humidity though it is low humidity tolerant. In low humidity conditions, red spider mites can become a problem which may explain the brittle dried needles as well, though I can't tell for sure. Do you see any webbing? By the time severe infestation has taken hold, you will see network of fine webbing especially in leaf and branch nodes.

I have lots of plants that are grouped together and I mist them (every morning) to simulate morning dew. I am diligent about this in the fall when I first bring all the cold sensitive plants inside, but gradually taper off to about 3 times per week. However, this time of the year with heat running constantly, the indoor relative humidity has plummeted to unhealthy levels -- down to 30's%. I want to try to maintain 40's at least.

For the NIP, I also put the container in a larger deep tray -- this year, I'm using a caterer's tray lid -- 2 lids stacked for strength. I put water in the tray almost every day -- about 1/2 to 1 inch deep -- the water is gone and the tray dry by the time I do this again. This is supplemental to actual watering from the top, which I do probably about once or twice a week. If you only water on Monday, your trees was probably not getting enough water. When full and lush, it was probably better to water again on Friday. NOW however, the tree doesn't have enough to warrant this because you may overwater. But bottom watering as supplemental watering snd humidity aid would be a better option.

Now for the bad news -- Even though the tree is struggling to revive, the dead needle branches are probably lost. Even if they are still alive, the dried up needles will only fall and the branches will only grow new side branches of new needles, resulting in very odd appearance for this tree. I think I see two other trunks in addition to the large one. One of the them has new growth but I can't see the other.

Cleanup for these trees will be messy. You will want a plastic or canvas tarp. Put the tree container in the middle, and wearing gloves (leather or kitchen gloves) pull the branches one by one through your hand to shed the dead needles. If you want to see if they will recover, try trimming the tips -- I would start with about 1 inch -- if there is green in the cut surface, new side shoots may grow. If dried up and dead, then keep cutting to see all the way to the trunk. But if you have cut more than 1/2 of the branch, it's not worth saving because it would be too far into the interior of the tree for any new growths to grow well or grow into correct shape. Unless you can repot/uppot the trees in this location or elsewhere in the building, there is no way to do this until the weather outside is warm enough to take the pot outside. If the smaller tree(s) are dead, then just cut them at the soil level.

Once this much is done, get a tray to put under the tree's container. Seriously, caterer's trays and covers are great if you can get hold of them because they are square or round -- usually free. You CAN buy trays specifically sold for this purpose though usually ridiculously expensive for what it is. But you could get something decorative that way. Boot trays and nursery trays work but they are rectangular and you need at least 1-1/2 to 2 inch depth. You may think it would be better to put the plant container on gravel or something and use this as humidity tray -- this is a common practice and it would work. But personally, I find them difficult to use that way -- it's too easy to misjudge the amount of water to put in the tray for me, and keeping the water level below the rocks would mean the tree won't be getting actual water in supplement to regular watering. (but it might be do-able if you are dedicated -- I have too many plants....)

...in an office situation, you may be better off to write this one off as learning experience and get another one though. We have and do still all go through this, it's part of gardening and horticulture :wink:
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applestar
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Re: Help identify these trees please :D

One other thought -- I try to keep the NIP above 45°F and consider 40°F to be minimum limited exposure.

Only one month ago and in Montreal climate -- did you buy and transport the 15 plants yourself or were they delivered?

If delivered, you my have cause for a claim.
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applestar
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Re: Help identify these trees please :D

Here's mine:

Image

I suspect they might be a bit light starved and the internodes could be denser, but they have grown enough to serve as living Christmas trees and we don't have to buy freshly cut tree anymore :wink:
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applestar
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Re: Help identify these trees please :D {Norfolk Island Pine

Anyone have idea what the second tree is? Does that look like a juniper?
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michaeleo
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Re: Help identify these trees please :D {Norfolk Island Pine

Hi, I would like to thank you for that in depth advice, it is much appreciated :) Unfortunately the bosses were not pleased looking at it and threw it away. I wish I could have saved it but will apply the knowledge I have now towards the future. Thank you again and have a great weekend!
Michael

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