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House Plants/Norfolk Pine crowding in pot



I have a potted Norfolk pine with multiple main stems which I think are crowding each other and affecting the plants growth and symmetry.  I'm worried it will fall over eventually.

I bought the plant a few years ago at only half a foot tall with multiple main trunks.  It is now more than a foot tall but all stems originate from one tiny area in the soil.  

Should I just leave the plant to grow on its own or should I separate, which seems risky for this plant type.  

I can provide pictures if asked.

Hi Joel,

The individual stems were put together in the same pot when they were seedlings. It was deliberate for two reasons. First, it makes for a fuller plant than a single stem would. Second, if one or two stems don't make it, all is not lost.

They may look crowded, but it is not affecting the growth. Trying to separate  the individual plants now after their roots are completely intertwined is not a good idea.

As for symmetry and leaning, you can prune out any stems that spoil the symmetry by cutting the stem off at the base. If the entire plant is leaning, re-positioning it in the pot without disturbing the roots can usually solve the problem. It is also important to rotate the plant because it will grow toward the light and lean in that direction if kept in the same orientation toward the light.

Norfolk Island Pine stems each have a single growing tip. That means they grow straight up and do not put out side shoots. If the growing tip is damaged or cut off, that stem will very slowly die. That means that NIP's often outgrow their space as they approach the ceiling after many years. Not much you can do about that.

I have written a detailed article on Norfolk Island Pine care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at I have also written an indoor plant care book in a PDF format that I can sell you if you contact me at my email address.

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.

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Will Creed


I am the only expert in this category with professional hands-on experience and knowledge of all indoor plants. I can answer questions regarding light, water, fertilizer, repotting, pruning and humidity and temperature requirements. I can identify plant pests and provide information on safe, effective treatments. My answers are based on 35 years of professional experience and scientific research and are clear and easy to understand. I do NOT use search engines to find answers to your questions. If you read my previous posts here, you will get a good idea as to how thorough and professional my answers are.


I have over 35 years of professional indoor landscaping experience caring for plants in homes, offices, building lobbies, stores, restaurants, and other adverse environments. I have written extensively on the care of indoor plants, including a 260 page book. My specialties include Ficus trees, low light plants, repotting, pest control, and re-blooming holiday plants. Be sure to check my ratings and nominations to learn why I am the top-rated indoor plant expert. I am the only House Plant expert consistently ranked in the AllExperts Top 20.

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