Of this noble genus of conifers A. excelsa is the only one of commercial value to us. A. imbricata is a hardy tree in England and when twenty to thirty feet high, with branches sweeping the grass, its symmetry is matchless. It is not, however, hardy here and does not make a useful plant for the greenhouse.
A. excelsa is called the Norfolk Island pine, being a native of that far away island. It will endure a very cool temperature, but not freezing. The plants are imported in large quantities from Europe. When ordering see that you are promised plants from cuttings. They are readily raised from seed but never make as fine plants as those from cuttings, the lower branches being always shorter and weaker, spoiling the symmetry of the plant. These are propagated from the leading shoots of the tops and branches inserted in sand, kept moderately moist, and covered with a hand-glass or frame till rooted.
The plants usually arrive in this country in excellent order, soon recovering from the journey and starting to grow. I have had the best success importing in the spring, the plants reaching here in May. You can then grow them on during summer and have well established plants for winter trade. Any good, fresh loam lightened up with a fifth or sixth of leaf-mold or very rotten manure will suit the araucaria.
They will thrive during summer out of doors in the broad sun, but will lose color, and are best under glass with a slight shade and all the ventilation that you can give them. They want a uniform and moderate amount of water the year around. In the winter months 50 degrees is sufficiently warm.
The araucaria is not only the most graceful small tree we have but is very satisfactory for house culture when given a light window. Your customers should be told to keep them as light and cool as possible.
The forms of A. excelsa known as glauca and compacta are more expensive but are improvements on the type.