Araucaria - How to care for and cultivate your Araucaria

Araucaria - How to care for and cultivate your Araucaria



We are talking about the most majestic trees that nature has given us, considered to be living fossils that in their environments of origin can reach up to 70 m in height and more.

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: Gymnosperms











: see the paragraph on "Main species"


The genre Araucaria belongs to family ofAraucariaceae (family born quite recently as before this genus was classified in the family of Pinaceae) which includes three genres:

  • Araucaria;
  • Agathis;
  • Wollemia (recently discovered. See paragraph "Curiosity").

In this family we find, in my opinion, the most beautiful trees that our planet can host, which in their natural environments even reach 70 m in height and more.

They are conifers native to South America and Oceania and are the only ones in the family that lend themselves to being bred in our gardens and unfortunately in our homes thanks to their delightful bearing with close boxes and in the shape of an inverted cone.

Their bearing it can vary depending on the species and in some cases, depending on whether it is female plants and male plants. In fact for the most part they are dioecious plants, that is to say that there are plants that bear only female flowers and plants that bear only male flowers. Much more rarely it is monoecious, that is to say that plants bearing distinct male and female flowers are found on the same plant. With rare exceptions it is very difficult, until it blooms, to know if a plant is female or male, you have to wait for the flowering which, at best, does not happen before the plant has reached twenty years of age. On average it takes 1 male for 5-6 females to obtain the fertilization of the flowers.

Leaves they are transformed into more or less sharp and tapered needles depending on the species and of a more or less intense green color.

The fruits called strobili, are cones similar to pine cones that contain seeds inside them, generally one for each scale of variable shape and size depending on the species. for example in the A. heterophylla are large and winged (photo below).

Cones of A. heterophylla

Seeds of A. heterophylla


There are several species and many are endemic to New Caledonia. They are found mainly in the spontaneous state on the island of Norfolk in eastern Australia, in New Guinea, in Argentina, in Chile and in southern Brazil.

They are much appreciated both for their beauty and grandeur and because some species are very important for the production of wood and for the edible seeds, similar to our pine nuts (the seeds of different species of the genus Pinus) but much larger.


A. heterophylla or A. excelsa is also known as Norkfolk pine as it was discovered by the English botanist Joseph Banksnel in Australia in 1780, on the island of Norfolk, Australia.

L'A. heterophylla it is an evergreen tree that spontaneously reaches up to 60 m in height, with a symmetrical shape in the shape of a pyramid.

It is predominantly, occasionally monoecious.

The leaves can be of two forms: those of the younger branches are light green and not prickly, while those of the older branches are shorter, imbricate (arranged like the roof tiles) and with a rigid apex.

L'A. heterophylla once adult it is very resistant to frost, wind and salinity (being native to Norfolk Island where it grows along the cliffs).

It is a very common plant in Mediterranean climates and is a species that lends itself to being grown indoors.


L'A. araucana is nicknamed monkey puzzle because a legend has it that in 1850 an English gentleman, owner of one of these trees, while making friends admire a young specimen, one of them said that "it would have been difficult even for a monkey to climb", seeing it so articulated and with leaves thorny and sharp and hence the name. Before this name became popular it was called pine of Chile as a native of the Chilean Andes, as well as Argentina.

It is one of the two species that is found more easily in our apartments together with A. Heterophylla.

It is a mainly dioecious plant, occasionally monoecious and is very long-lived but also very slow growing as it grows about 35 cm per year.

The seeds are not produced every year but at intervals of 3-4 years also its cones are thorny and therefore are not eaten by animals (with the exception of goats).

The seeds are about 3 cm long and are edible and maintain their germinability for several years.

Another peculiarity is that the female cones are very large, almost like a balloon and each contains up to 200 seeds that are dispersed only when the cone falls from the tree, in autumn and are so heavy that they can also break the branch that door.

In fact, in their countries of origin, for the road trees, where they grow majestically, only the "male" Araucaria araucana is cultivated as the cones are much smaller and less dangerous for people.

They are plants that, in their natural environments, reach 45-50 m in height and do not tolerate atmospheric pollution and grow without problems even in maritime environments.

For more information about this plant, read the testimony of Guido Coppari.


L'A. columnaris, also called cook pine it is native to New Caledonia and is very often confused with the "Norfolk Pine" when young. It is a tree that also grows well in coastal gardens exposed to strong winds.


L'A. angustifolia, originally from Brazil, is also called pine of the Paranà. The seeds are edible for both humans and animals considered excellent forage.

The trees are mostly dioecious (male and female cones on different trees) although occasionally monoecious trees (male and female cones on the same tree) have been found. The seeds retain their germination capacity for about six weeks.


L'TO. bidwillii it is native to the coastal areas of Queensland in Australia. It features thorny foliage and edible seeds. Its posture is typically pyramidal and is typical of cold subtropical areas.


L'A. cunninghamii or Australian pine it is native to the northeastern coast of Queensland in Australia and New Guinea. It develops up to 2500 m of altitude in New Guinea and up to 200 m in Australia. Many scholars believe that the shape of New Guinea is actually theA.bernieri. It tolerates cold and is very thorny when young. With maturity the trunk easily loses its thorny bark to reveal a copper color. It does not reach great height, 4 m high by 2 m wide.


L'TO. hunsteinii is originally from New Guinea. It is also called klinkii pine. In the native areas, trees up to 90 m tall can be found. It develops between 700 and 1000 m above sea level.


L'A. laubenfelsii it is native to New Caledonia and is also an imposing tree that in nature reaches up to 50 m in height. It has very lush foliage and a beautiful deep green color.


L'A. luxurians is a native of New Caledonia. It is a tree much appreciated for the precious wood it supplies and grows up to 200 m above sea level.

Allow me a quick note about these plants being forced into houses and small pots because we have seen them so cute from the nursery that we are tempted to buy them. As you have had the opportunity to read in the notes on the individual species, these plants are giants of nature so seeing them forced into the house, in small pots, personally makes my heart tight. At the most, raise them in the garden, allowing these creatures to grow and develop with a little more dignity.


During the winter it must be kept in the coolest area of ​​the house, away from the radiators and if the temperatures are above 18 ° C (the optimal cultivation temperature is around 12-18 ° C) ensure good ambient humidity and possibly air. fresh with frequent nebulizations to the foliage and never direct sun. In any case, winter temperatures must not drop below 7 ° C.

During the summer it would be preferable to place it outdoors, in a shaded position and away from drafts but pay attention to temperatures that must not exceed 25 ° C.

If you decide to grow it in the garden after it has lived in your home for a certain period of time, as it comes from a protected environment, gradually accustom it to the outside before transplanting it into the ground starting from a few minutes a day and gradually increasing more and more. .

As we have seen, in nature they are imposing trees but in the apartments they do not exceed two meters in height (if we have been very good at raising them). In any case they are slow growing plants, about 15 cm per year. It happens, grown at home (but it also happens in nature) that the lower branches dry out. We must not be alarmed or think that it is sick: this is part of the normal growth of the plant, it is aging.

He does not like air pollution.


During the summer it should be watered often and you have to wait for the soil to dry between one watering and another. During the winter, watering should be reduced unless the room that hosts it is particularly hot (which is to be avoided).

It is important to avoid stagnation in the saucer which is not tolerated in any way, especially in the winter period which cause rotting of the roots with consequent fall of the needles.

It is advisable to spray the leaves often, preferably early in the morning, so that they are dry in the evening.


It is generally repotted every 2-3 years, at the beginning of spring using a good fertile soil, enriched with organic substance (better if formed by decomposed leaves) mixed with coarse sand, with a slightly acid reaction and very well drained as it does not tolerate water stagnation.

If repotting is not possible because it has become too large then remove the surface layer of the soil and replace it with fresh substrate.


From spring and throughout the summer it should be fertilized every 2 weeks with a liquid fertilizer, for acidophilic plants, to be diluted in the irrigation water or every week but halving the doses compared to what is reported in the package. In any case, always slightly reduce the indicated doses as they are always exaggerated.

Starting in autumn and throughout the winter, it is preferable to fertilize every 3-4 weeks.

To ensure optimal development it is important to use an equally balanced fertilizer in nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), for example using the formula 30:30:30 and which also contains microelements such as iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), boron (B), polybdenum (Mo), magnesium (mg) all important for its growth.


It is very rare that it blooms in the apartment and in any case not before it has reached twenty years of age.


It does not need pruning if contained in not too large pots it will not develop beyond a certain height.


Multiplication occurs by seed or by cutting.


The fresh seeds germinate relatively easily and should be sown between January-February in a compost made up of a part of fertile soil and a part of coarse sand and arranged one per pot to avoid subsequent transplant stress.

The pot containing the seed, no more than 4 cm in diameter, should preferably be placed under a glass bell or under a transparent plastic sheet. The pot should be kept in a greenhouse or in any case in a sheltered place at a temperature around 15 ° C. The soil must be constantly moist (use a sprayer to completely moisten the soil) until the moment of germination.

The plastic sheet or the glass bell should be removed every day to check the degree of humidity in the soil and remove the condensation that forms.

Once the seeds have germinated (after 1-2 months) and when the new seedlings are sufficiently large they are transplanted into larger pots with all the earthen bread and taken outdoors and treated like adult plants. For the first few years it is good that during the winter they are kept in sheltered places and not outdoors during the winter.

Growth is very slow.


The multiplication by cuttings is obtained from adult araucarias, by topping the tip of the plant. The mother plant thus mutilated, from the point of insertion of the branches of the upper stage on the stem, will create new shoots that will replace the cut tip. Once these shoots have reached a length of 5-7 cm, they detach whole and start rooting keeping the mother plant in particular conditions that allow it not to die and give cuttings also for the following years.

This practice is followed by experienced flower growers. At home its implementation is not recommended as topping the plant the only almost certain result is to make it die.


They are not particularly prone to disease. In any case, the pathologies that can be encountered are the following:

The needles turn yellow and fall out

Unfortunately, this very frequently occurring disease is not associated with a single cause. In fact, it can depend on several factors all linked to a bad cultivation technique: too much water, too hot, too little light or insufficient fertilization. Therefore as a remedy it is necessary that you make an analysis of how you are breeding it according to the indications given in the individual paragraphs and then adjust accordingly.

Mealybugs on the plant

Lecocciniglia can infest it and are highlighted by spots concentrated above all in the leaves. It is above all the floury cochineal that can disturb it. Recognizing it is very simple as it manifests itself as small pieces of fluffy cotton and if you try to remove it simply with a fingernail, it comes off without problems.

Remedies: you can try to eliminate them using a cotton swab soaked in denatured alcohol but given the density of the leaves it is preferable to intervene with specific insecticides.


All species are very ancient and fossils have been found that date back to the age of the dinosaurs.

The seeds of many species are edible and are reminiscent of our pine nuts only of much larger size, more similar in size to our almonds.

The family of Araucariaceae, as we said in the introduction, it is a recently established family as the genus was previously incorporated into the Pinaceae family. A very recent genus introduced in this family is the Wollemia, with the only species, the Wollemia nobilis (left photo), discovered in 1994 in a remote area of Wollemi Nationa Park (hence the name), in New South Wales, 150 km north of Sydney, Australia.At first, when it was discovered, it was thought to be a species of pine, but comparative studies with Araucarias have made it classify within this family.It is considered a rare and certainly very ancient plant of which, among other things, there are very few specimens.

Online bibliographic sources
(en) Agricultural Research Service

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