Connect with us

Thai Life

Phuket gardening: Goodness gracious, great buds of fire

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: Blooming ‘flame trees’ have Phuket ablaze with scarlet flowers all over the island, particularly in July.

Trees, like flowers, often remain unnoticed until they burst into bloom. The seasonal rains stimulate a number of trees into showing off their wares. The flame trees, for example, are aflame with their brilliant scarlet flowers everywhere during their season.

Less dramatic, but sporting flowers of a similar hue, is the geiger tree (cordia sebestena). In Thailand it is known as khaw diaa.

It is a great tree to have in your garden for many reasons. For a start, although it blooms mainly during Phuket’s rainy season, the geiger tree will bud its orange flowers for most of the year.

It is also remarkably unfussy about conditions. It will not only grow in poor soil with little care and attention, but it will also endure the salt-laden winds that harry Phuket’s coastline.

As if to illustrate this, there are a couple in bloom within spitting distance of Rawai Beach, and further up the Viset Road one is happily displaying its wares on a piece of waste ground.

The geiger tree does, however, like plenty of sun.

Although the geiger is a native of the Americas, it has been introduced to South East Asia and has quickly acclimatized and naturalized in this habitat. You can buy it in a few nurseries here, but it will take very easily from hardwood cuttings or, since the fruit is a drupe, from its stone.

The fruits, which resemble a small whitish-green lemon, are edible, though there is little flesh on them and the taste is sour.

The geiger is distinctive in a number of ways. The dark, evergreen leaves are rough to the touch and have sometimes been used as a substitute for sandpaper.

Moreover, the wood is extremely durable and can be used as timber.

The tree is normally grown as an ornamental for its brilliant orange flowers. These are tubular-shaped and appear in clusters of six to 10 paper-thin flowers that are attractive to bees and butterflies.

It is a sensible choice as a patio or yard tree since it has a neat habit and should require little or no pruning. The trunk is also relatively slim and the tree is unlikely to outgrow its surroundings.

Because it is wider than it is tall upon reaching maturity, the space beneath its branches makes it a good shade tree for the garden.

The cultivar (boissiere) with its larger creamy-white flowers is another option.

If you are uncertain which small tree or large shrub to choose, then consider cordia sebestena if you want a neat, long-flowering, low-maintenance tree. If you prefer something more showy, then go for yellow bells (tecoma stans), the yellow oleander (thevetia peruviana) or the peacock flower (dwarf poinciana).

All are similar in dimensions, and all flower more-or-less continuously and will tolerate a range of soil conditions.

But the geiger tree is the most forgiving of them all, and because of its bushy form, is the most useful as a shade-giver for lesser brethren in your garden.

Tip of the week – garden furniture

Attractive outdoor furniture will definitely enhance the overall appearance of your

Moreover, since this blissful climate allows us to spend so much time in the open air, these furnishings assume an added importance.

A few provisos. If you decide to use wood, say for a table and chairs, ensure that the wood is properly treated.

Cheap surface varnish will soon peel off, so go for furniture that has been properly stained and looks robust.

Of course, the best wood of all is teak. It will last longer, look better and will never suffer from the depredations of termites.

This is especially true if you are thinking of a sala, summer house or pavilion.

But teak is expensive and, if you believe in environmental issues, you should hesitate about using it since most comes from illegal sources.

Bamboo is an inexpensive, cheap and decorative alternative, but it will need to be replaced after a few years.

Phuket Gardening is Phuket Gazette columnist Patrick Campbell’s feature of all things flora.

If you have a garden that you would like to be featured in this page, please email:

Keep checking our online Phuket Lifestyle pages for regular gardening features and tips.

— Patrick Campbell


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Best of9 hours ago

Phuket’s 5 most family-friendly resorts

Transport9 hours ago

Transport Company announces bus services are suspended until August 31

Thailand11 hours ago

Thailand News Today | 29 provinces now on curfew, booze ban in Phuket

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Insurgency12 hours ago

Volunteer ranger killed in grenade attack by suspected insurgents

Best of12 hours ago

Top 5 Spas in Koh Samui

Thailand12 hours ago

Hemp ice cream hits the Thai market

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Chon Buri13 hours ago

Chon Buri sets local order, restaurants in malls to only offer food for delivery

Thailand13 hours ago

Samut Prakan man dies in fire, possibly self-inflicted

Thailand14 hours ago

Royal Thai Police say bitterleaf can’t cure Covid

Coronavirus (Covid-19)14 hours ago

Tuesday Covid Update: 18,901 new cases, provincial totals

Thailand15 hours ago

Air Asia technician arrested for allegedly stealing electronics

Pattaya15 hours ago

“Pattaya Move On” reopening likely to be postponed as Covid cases surge

Thailand15 hours ago

3 metre long python caught near family’s house in Phuket

Thailand17 hours ago

Government says not to buy Favipiravir/Avigan online, says it might be fake

Phuket17 hours ago

Phuket bans alcohol sales at restaurants, issues order amid rise of Covid cases

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism5 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8