On the plus side, they survived all that Ike had to dish out (i.e. salt and wind), are pretty fast growers (once planted in the ground) and they did survive the winter of 2009 (one of our coldest in recent memory). So if you understand the risk of freezing, the Norfolk Island Pine is a very interesting selection for the area.
Now for a few details. First of all the Norfolk Island Pine isn’t actually a pine (Pinus). It belongs to another plant family that contains some familiar members like the monky puzzle tree. The Norfolk Island Pine is native to – you guessed it - Norfolk Island. A tiny island paradise in the southern Pacific Ocean, east of Australia. This island was originally discovered by Captain James Cook and named for Great Britain’s Duchess of Norfolk.
These plants like full sun but will perform in full to partial shade. Plants tend to have “droopy” limbs when grown under limited light conditions. The Norfolk Island Pine isn’t too picky about soil type but thrive in a well drained location with a little supplemental water applied now and again. Well cared for trees have an impressive growth rate.
That being said, there are a few considerations when planting a Norfolk Island Pine in the landscape. Since they do get so tall, scale may be an issue. A small tree that starts out looking good can develop in to an over sized monster that dwarfs the residence. Consider the ultimate size of the tree before selecting a location. A smaller sized tree may be a better solution.
Remember – the Norfolk Island Pine is not on the list of recommended trees for Galveston County. BUT if you’re prepared to deal with the risk of cold weather damage/freezing it is a pretty cool plant.