The Orange Geiger Tree: Everything to Know

The orange geiger tree is a North American native tropical evergreen tree. Its scientific name is Cordia Sebestena which is a member of the Boraginaceae family.

The leaves on the tree are rounded and leathery, and they are quite large (often 7-8 inches). They are glossy green with a few rusty-orange spots. The leaves have a smooth margin and a petiole that connects them to the stem.

orange geiger tree

The orange geiger tree blooms all year, but most prominently in the spring and summer. It bears showy orange flowers with five petals.

The flowers are about two inches wide and grow in clusters at the ends of the branches. The flowers of the tree are much smaller than the leaves.

The fruit of the tree is shaped like a pear and can grow to be three inches long. When ripe, the fruits grow in clusters and are white. Although the fruits are edible, they aren’t particularly tasty.

Orange geiger trees are slow growers. They can reach a height of 25 -30 feet with an equivalent spread and a trunk 12 inches thick. The tree can spread 20 to 25 feet wide.

What planting zone is the orange geiger tree best suited for?

The orange geiger tree is a tropical tree and is best suited for planting in USDA Plant 10B to 11. These zones are located in southern Florida, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

What that means is that the tree thrives in hot, humid climates. It cannot tolerate freezing temperatures and cold temperatures may cause leaf drop or reproductive failure.

When planting the orange geiger tree, be sure to choose a location that gets full sun for at least six hours a day. Although the tree can tolerate partial sun, it will not flower as profusely in shady areas.

What type of soil does the orange geiger tree need?

The orange geiger tree is not particular about soil type as long as it is well-draining. The plant can do well in clay, loam, sand, acidic and alkaline soils.

However, the tree will not tolerate salty soils. If you live in an area with salty soils, be sure to amend your soil or choose another location for your tree.

The tree does best in rich, organic soils that are high in nitrogen.

If you don’t have naturally rich soil, here is how you can create the ideal soil mix for your orange geiger tree:

  • Start with a base of good quality potting soil.
  • Add in some perlite or sand to improve drainage.
  • Mix in some organic matter such as compost or manure.
  • Add a slow-release fertilizer to the mix.

The orange geiger tree is a low-maintenance plant that does not require much fertilizer. In fact, too much fertilizer can damage the tree. If you do decide to fertilize, use a balanced fertilizer and apply it in the spring.

How often does the orange geiger tree need to be watered?

The orange geiger tree doesn’t need to be watered frequently. If you live in an area with high rainfall, the tree will do fine with the natural precipitation. If you live in a dry climate, water the tree once a week to keep the soil moist but not soggy.

The tree doesn’t have a deep root system, so you don’t need to water it deeply. A slow trickle of water at the base of the tree for a few minutes should be sufficient.

Overwatering is one of the most common problems people have with orange geiger trees. If the tree is getting too much water, the leaves will turn yellow and drop off.

The best way to avoid overwatering is to check the soil before watering. If the top inch of soil isn’t dry avoid watering.

The orange geiger tree grows in tropical climates. One of the characteristics of tropical climates is high humidity.

If the tree is planted in an area with hot and dry conditions, it may be necessary to provide supplemental water during the hottest months.

All that said, the tree may need more water when it’s in the establishment phase or when it’s under stress from heat or drought.

Young trees that are less than four years old need to be watered according to an irrigation schedule. A sample irrigation schedule for a young orange geiger tree would be as follows:

For the first two years of the tree’s life, apply 0.3 gallons of water twice a week.

Then, increase the amount of water to 0.5 gallons once a week for the third and fourth years.

After that, the tree should be able to survive on rainfall alone unless there is a significant drought.

If there has been recent rainfall, reduce the watering schedule accordingly. The amount of water the tree needs will also increase as it gets bigger. But it’s always better to err on the side of too little water rather than too much.

Overwatering can stress the tree and make it more susceptible to pests and diseases.

It can also lead to root rot, which is a serious problem. Root rot is caused by a fungus that thrives in wet, poorly drained soils. It can cause the roots to rot and the tree to slowly decline.

If you live in coastal areas where salt spray is a problem. The best way to avoid problems is to choose a location for your tree that is protected from the wind.

You can also help reduce salt damage by watering the tree with fresh water and hosing it down periodically.

What type of fertilizer should you use on an orange geiger tree?

Almost any type of fertilizer will work for an orange geiger tree. However, slow-release fertilizers are best because they don’t have to be applied as often.

You can use a fertilizer with a nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (N-P-K) ratio of 12-12-12 or 14-14-14.

Alternatively, you can use a fertilizer with a higher ratio of nitrogen such as 16-16-16. But avoid using a fertilizer with a high nitrogen ratio on young trees because it can burn the roots.

The form of fertilizer you use is also important. You can use granular, liquid, or even slow-release tablets.

Granular fertilizers are the most common type and are easy to apply. You simply sprinkle them around the base of the tree and then water them in.

If you plan to use a granular fertilizer, look for one that’s labeled “slow-release” or “controlled release.”

These types of fertilizers release the nutrients slowly over a period of several months. This is important because it prevents the roots from being burned by too much fertilizer at once.

Liquid fertilizers are also an option. You simply mix them with water and then pour them around the base of the tree. The application rate for liquid fertilizers is usually given on the label.

You can also use slow-release tablet fertilizers. These are applied in the same way as granular fertilizers, but they last longer. The tablets should be placed about 12 inches away from the trunk of the tree and then covered with soil.

If you don’t want to use chemical fertilizers, you can use compost. Compost is a great source of nutrients for the tree and it’s also good for the environment. Simply spread a layer of compost around the base of the tree and then water it in.

The best time to fertilize an orange geiger tree is in the spring before new growth begins. You can apply the fertilizer around the base of the tree or mix it into the soil before planting.

Fertilizing young and mature orange geiger trees is a little different. Here is how to apply.

Fertilizing Young Orange Geiger Trees

Fertilize young orange geiger trees three weeks after planting by applying 1/2 cup of granular fertilizer to newly planted trees.

During the first year, fertilize every six weeks from February to September. Fertilize the area around the tree with an eight-to-eight fertilizer.

Fertilizers should not come into contact with the tree’s bark. In February, start with half a cup, or 0.3 pounds, and gradually raise the amount to three cups, or 0.6 pounds, in September.

In order to safeguard the plant’s delicate roots, water thoroughly the following fertilization.

Fertilize the tree five times throughout its second year or nearly every eight weeks. Fungicide usage should be increased from 0.8 pounds in February to 1.5 pounds by the end of the season in September.

For every year of tree age, add one foot of additional fertilizer to the soil around your tree’s canopy, up to the drip line, and beyond.

Fertilize four times in the third year, starting with 1.4 pounds and finishing with 2.8 pounds.

It is recommended that fertilization be reduced to three times in the fourth year, using 3.3 pounds in February and ramping up to 4.2 pounds in September.

Fertilizing Mature Orange Geiger Trees

Fertilize trees five years or older with 4.6 to 5.8 pounds of 8-8-8 fertilizer in February, April, and September.

Fertilize to a depth of 10 feet or more away from the tree’s canopy, then thoroughly water the area.

It is highly recommended to keep weeds and turf at least six feet away from the trunk of a mature tree.

Installing a 4-inch layer of mulch will prevent weed growth and reduce soil evaporation. It is also ideal to spread mulch around 1 foot from the trunk of the tree.

Are there any pests or diseases that affect the orange geiger tree?

The orange geiger tree isn’t particularly vulnerable to pests or diseases. However, scale insects and mealybugs can be a problem.

These pests suck the sap from the leaves and stems, which can cause the leaves to turn yellow and eventually drop off. Here are the most common pests and diseases that affect the orange geiger tree:

Scale insects

Scale insects feed on a wide variety of plants, including the orange geiger tree. They feed by sucking plant sap through their lengthy, needle-like mouthparts (six to eight times the length of the insect!).

Many also emit sticky honeydew, which promotes the formation of sooty mold.

Sooty mold is a black fungus that grows on the honeydew. It doesn’t directly harm the plant, but it can reduce photosynthesis by blocking sunlight from reaching the leaves.


Mealybugs are small, wingless insects that feed on plant sap. They are often found in clusters on the stems and leaves of plants.

They can cause yellowing of the leaves and stunted plant growth. They also excrete honeydew, which can lead to sooty mold.


Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that feed on plant sap. They are often found in clusters on the stems and leaves of plants.

Aphids deplete plants of nutrients, which can cause yellowing of the leaves and stunted plant growth.

Aphids are difficult to control. Because aphids prefer to feed on the undersides of leaves, the use of insecticides isn’t necessarily a guarantee of success.

They also excrete honeydew, which can lead to sooty mold. Since aphids are often found in large numbers and replicated quickly, they can cause extensive damage to plants.


Whiteflies are small, winged insects that are closely related to aphids. They are often found in clusters on the undersides of leaves.

Whiteflies can be as small as 1/12 inch in size and have a triangular shape. They suck plant sap from the leaves, which can cause the leaves to turn yellow and eventually drop off.

Whiteflies also excrete honeydew as they feed. Honeydew promotes the growth of sooty mold, which eventually covers the leaves and blocks sunlight from reaching the plant.


Snails are often found in gardens, feeding on a wide variety of plants. They are particularly fond of young leaves and tender shoots.

Snails can cause extensive damage to plants, particularly young plants. They leave behind a slimy trail as they move, which can attract other pests and diseases. It is important to control snails in the garden to prevent them from damaging plants.

How can you prevent pests and diseases on your orange geiger tree?

The best way to prevent pests and diseases on your orange geiger tree is to keep the tree healthy.

Keeping the tree healthy should include:

  • Fertilizing regularly
  • Watering properly
  • Pruning properly
  • Mulching to retain moisture
  • Avoiding injuries to the trunk
  • Checking for pests and diseases regularly
  • Treating pests and diseases promptly

If you do find pests or diseases on your orange geiger tree, you can treat them with insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, or neem oil.

These products will kill the insects and the eggs, preventing them from causing further damage to the tree.

You can also wash foliage with a leaf shine on a regular basis will assist to deter further infestations.

Should you prune an orange geiger tree?

Pruning is not necessary for the orange geiger tree, but you can prune it if you want to control its shape or size. If you do prune the tree, do it in early spring before new growth begins.

To prune an orange geiger tree:

Start by removing any dead, diseased, or damaged branches. Next, remove any branches that are crossing or rubbing against each other. Finally, trim back any branches that are growing outside of the tree’s natural shape.

Only prune branches that are less than one-third of the tree’s total height. When pruning, make sure to use sharp, clean pruning shears.

Immediately after pruning, apply a wound sealant to the cuts especially if they are larger than two inches in diameter. This will help prevent disease and rot by keeping pests and other organisms out.