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.
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.