How To Cultivate A Citronella Plant: An Easy Guide To Repelling Mosquitoes

Citronella Plant

Emma Downey

Emma Downey
Gardening Expert

Updated on 12/4/2022

In a nutshell, the citronella plant may be described as having bright pink blossoms set against green foliage in a summer garden that is bustling with mosquitos. Plants that produce citronella are simple to care for, can flourish in practically any environment, and have a wide range of use in medicine and the kitchen. In addition to this, it is thought that their aroma drives away. But is it the case? Learn how to cultivate this fascinating plant by reading this guide, which has all the necessary information.

The addition of a citronella plant to your garden may be pretty beneficial. To begin with, it is a low-maintenance plant that can thrive in dry conditions, and it gives out a refreshing and zesty scent when you go close to it. And last, it has beautiful, colorful flowers and delicate emerald leaves. Grow it in your yard, put it along your walks, or bring the potted plant inside; you won't be disappointed by the beautiful flowers and heady scent it emits in any of these locations.

Can You Tell Me About The Citronella Plant?


Geraniums with a fragrant aroma are known as citronella plants. When you brush against the leaves or rub them between your fingers, they give out a refreshing scent reminiscent of citrus. Because of its natural ability to deter insects, this plant is often called a “mosquito plant.” The term "citronella grass" is often used interchangeably with "citronella plants" (Cymbopogon nardus). The citronella grass used to make citronella oil is known for its clumping growth and is the primary source of this oil. On the other hand, the citronella plant has just a trace amount of the essential oil extracted from citronella. The plant, also known as the citrosa geranium, has lacy and strongly lobed leaves. Even if it just had pink and magenta blossoms, its lovely appearance alone would be worth cultivating.

An Explanation Of The Name And Meaning Of The Citronella Plant

Citronella Plant

Citronella comes from the French term citronnelle, which translates as "lemon balm." Citronella is known for having a scent that is both flowery and lemony. Citronella plants, related to geraniums and stand for defense, healing, and purification, are members of the geranium family.

It's helpful to know that you may put this plant in a vase and use it as a centerpiece on the table. Give citronella plant bouquets to the people you care about to signify your friendship and your best wishes for their health and happiness.

Does The Citronella Plant Have An Effect On The Number Of Mosquitoes?

citronella plant

Since citronella plants are also known as mosquito plants, it stands to reason that they are effective in warding off mosquitoes. To a certain extent, that is not the case, unfortunately. When the leaves of this plant are crushed, they emit tiny quantities of citronella oil, an essential oil that can ward off insects. However, the quantity of oil spilled was insufficient to ward off those annoying bugs successfully. It is not possible to use the oil as a repellant until after extracted and distilled.

In conclusion, just because you put some citronella plants in your yard does not mean that you can expect to have a picnic there without being bothered by mosquitoes. That doesn't mean you shouldn't cultivate them in your garden, either. They need little care and are beautiful to look at while doing so. In addition to that, you may always take pleasure in their aroma.

Citronella's Many Uses And Advantages As A Plant

Citronella is a beautiful plant to have in your home or garden. And even though it is not an efficient mosquito repellent, having it in your garden offers several other distinct advantages.



Citronella plants can be successfully grown without a green thumb. They have fundamental requirements for water and light.

They will draw attention to the railings of your porch or window boxes thanks to the vibrant flowers and lustrous foliage that they produce.

Fragrance Boosters

Citronella plants have a highly gratifying smell that is described as lemony. You may plant them in your garden to take advantage of their invigorating scent, or you can place some of their trimmings in a vase to impart a pleasant aroma throughout the house.

Items Used For Decorating

Take some of the citronella plant's bright blossoms, snip them off, and use them as a centerpiece on the table. The plants are also beautiful complements to flower arrangements seen in gardens.

Indoor Plants


A citronella plant is a wonderful option for a houseplant. Bring the potted plants inside to prevent the spring cold from killing them. In addition, bringing some of the outsides inside helps make your house seem more put together.

Citronella Plant Uses

Citronella plants are well-known for the aroma they produce and have a long history of use in many different cultures. When extracted correctly, the trace levels of citronella oil found in the plant's leaf have a variety of applications, including those in the medical and fragrance industries. Let's look at some of these plants' most practical applications.



The citronella plant was first harvested for use in the production of fragrances because of the fragrant leaves it produces. It has a lovely and refreshing scent that is reminiscent of citrus. A helpful hint: To release its scent, just rub the leaves of the plant's plant on your skin.



Herbal teas may be made from dried leaves and petals of scented geraniums, which can be used in aromatherapy. In addition, you may flavor your baked goods and jellies by using a few of the plant's leaves. A helpful hint: the lemon-scented plant may be included in salads, soups, and sauces by using the plant's fresh leaves.

Insect Repellants

Citronella plants have repelling characteristics. Even though the plant itself cannot repel insects, the crushed leaves or oil derived from it can be used to repel them. Many individuals use citronella candles, incense, and sprays as natural insect repellents, which you probably already know. In addition to that, you may produce your DIY mosquito spray using citronella plants. 

Here are the steps:

DIY Citronella Mosquito Spray


It is claimed that the oil obtained from the citronella plant has antibacterial and antiseptic effects. It was used to treat muscular spasms, stimulate hunger, and promote wound healing in traditional Chinese medicine.



Because the plant has a clean scent, it is often used in the cosmetic sector to provide a pleasant fragrance to various products, including soaps, moisturizers, detergents, and lotions.



In aromatherapy, the citronella plant is known for its sedative properties. It helps rid lethargy, reduces headache pain, and increases overall energy levels. You may get started by utilizing the plant's essential oil or by crushing some of the plant's leaves.

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Instructions For Cultivating The Citronella Plant In Your Own Garden


Plants that produce citronella oil are not difficult to cultivate and would be a welcome addition to any garden. Grow them after the threat of frost has gone throughout the winter to have mature plants in time for the summer.

The following are the primary processes involved in cultivating citronella plants outside.

  • Look for a planting spot between six and eight hours of sunshine, either fully or partially.
  • Pick a spot with soil with good drainage and moderate levels of richness.
  • Make sure to give your citronella plants at least 18 to 24 inches of space between them so that they may flourish.
  • Check the moisture content of the soil often, and water it if the top layer dries up.

How To Root Citronella Cuttings And Grow Your Plant

How to Grow Citronella Plant from Cutting

The citronella plant may be readily propagated via division. There is an abundance of robust softwood in the late summer that may be cut down for cuts. This is a guide on root cuttings and growing new citronella plants from them.

First, You'll Need To Cut

Remove between 3 and 5 inches of the very tip of a healthy mother plant.

The Second Step Is To Cut The Stem

Take all of the leaves off the stem except for the top two or three.

The Third Step Is To Apply The Rooting Hormone

After soaking the bottom of the stem in a rooting hormone, place it in a container that has been filled with a nutrient-dense planting mix.

Step 4: Apply Some Moisture To The Cuts

To keep your clippings from drying out, sprinkle some water over them.

The Fifth Step Is To Position Them Correctly

Make sure they are kept in a light and warm place. Your seeds will start to germinate within about a week.

When was the last time you utilized rooting hormone? Here are some suggestions that have been made.

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How To Germinate And Sprout Citronella From Seeds


Growing citronella plants from seedlings call for the greatest attention to detail and perseverance. When the temperature is between 13 and 18 degrees Celsius in the spring, sowing may commence at its optimal period. If you want to develop citronella plants from seeds, follow these instructions.

  • Pick out a container with a depth of at least two to three inches and fill it with fine potting soil.
  • Put the seeds in the ground one by one. Be careful to leave around 5 centimeters or 2 inches of space between them so that they have room to expand.
  • Spray them lightly with water and then position them where they will get some indirect sunshine.
  • To hasten the germination process, place a damp piece of paper or a dome made of plastic over the container.

Instructions On How To Cultivate A Citronella Plant Indoors


Citronellas have the potential to become beautiful interior blooming plants if the proper care is given to them. In addition, welcoming them within is one of the finest things you can do to increase their chances of surviving the cold winter weather. If you want to cultivate citronella plants inside, what information is essential to have?

  • Choose a container with a width and depth of at least 8 to 12 inches suitable for growing the plants. Ensure there is a drainage hole to prevent the root from rotting.
  • High-quality potting soil should fill up around half of the container.
  • After you have positioned the citronella plant inside the container, fill up the space surrounding the root ball with dirt.
  • You need to keep the soil wet by watering it.
  • Position the plant to be exposed to either whole or partial sunlight.

Caring For Citronella Plant

Citronella plant care

Citronella plant maintenance involves minimum effort. Even if the plant is not effective in warding off mosquitoes, it is a beautiful addition to any garden or container you may have. If you give these suggestions some thought, you should have a flourishing citronella plant on your hands throughout the whole year.



Citronella plants need whole light but may also survive in partial shade. Full sun is best for these plants, and cultivate them in a spot exposed to between six and eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Bring the plants indoors during the winter months if the outside temperatures are expected to fall below freezing. Put them in a window that gets plenty of sunlight or underneath a grows light. A warning sign that your plant isn't getting enough sunlight is if it starts to lean over and spread its leaves.



These plants aren't very picky when it comes to the kind of soil. As long as the soil has good drainage, it can thrive even in only moderately rich, neutral, or alkaline soil. If this is your first time gardening, you should probably familiarise yourself with the various soil types.


Plants that produce citronella are susceptible to frost and cannot survive wet and chilly winters. Frost may kill a plant no matter how strongly it has established itself. The temperature range of 15 to 21 degrees Celsius is ideal for your plant's growth. You should move your indoor plants as the temperature drops in the winter.



Give your citronella plant a drink when the top inch of soil is dry. The plant can withstand the heat of summer with a reasonable amount of resilience. Instead of watering the plant a little bit each day while it is being grown inside, water it extensively when the soil dries up. A helpful hint: Water the soil surrounding the plant rather than the leaves to minimize water damage.


In the spring, give your citronella plant a dose of a nutrient-packed houseplant fertilizer that contains nitrogen. It is also possible to assure optimal development by using a potting mix that consists of garden soil, perlite, and peat moss.

Caution: Avoid applying excessive amounts of fertilizer, and it will leave your plant with an odor that is not very aromatic.

Performing Cuts & Snippets

Pruning and Pinching

Plants that produce citronella often mature into a woody state due to their rapid growth. Therefore, you shouldn't be frightened to cut them down. After you prune your plant, you'll see that it immediately fills in with new growth and takes on a bushier look.

Tip: To stimulate new growth, pinch off any leaves that have turned yellow or are dead.

Insects & Diseases

Pests & Disease

Citronella plants tend not to have a lot of difficulties with diseases or pests due to the fragrance of their leaves and the thickness of their leaves. If red spider mites or whiteflies show up, you should use a pesticide to get rid of them.

A helpful hint is to make sure that the soil or the leaves do not remain damp. If you do not treat your plant, bacterial leaf spots, grey mold, or blossom blight may get.

Citronella Plants For Sale

Citronella Plants for Sale

Citronellas, grown as attractive plants in gardens, are available in a wide range of pink colors, from lavender to magenta. They have a refreshing citrus aroma that you are going to like. If you put them in your yard, patio, or front porch, they will almost immediately bring new vitality to those areas. They are not the sort of plants that will allow you to remain unmoved by their beauty! These fragrant geraniums grow pretty quickly and have a pleasant aroma. You should give plants plenty of room in your yard when you buy them to thrive. Plant them in a big pot if you decide to get them for your indoor space if you do so.

You may also purchase citronella plants from online retailers such as Amazon or Etsy, which will ship the plants directly to your home regardless of where you reside.

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 It is essential that you immediately provide your plants with some water and position them to get indirect sunshine once they have been sent. The plants will recover in a day or two after being injured. Getting citronella plants off the ground is a simple process. And despite the possibility that they do not genuinely deter mosquitoes, they are a fantastic option for use inside and outside the home.

Citronella Is A Common Plant That Offers Some Not-So-Common Benefits

One of the most well-liked types of plants is the citronella plant. If you give the plants lots of water, place them in an area where they get plenty of sunshine, and do periodic maintenance, they will thrive. They are wonderful additions to any garden or container garden, and they provide color and scent to any area. They come with various advantages, which are of the utmost importance. Teas, jellies, cakes, and salads may all benefit from the citronella taste that can be achieved by using the leaves of the citronella plant. Alternatively, you might purchase citronella candles and essential oil in aromatherapy. As an effective insect repellent, citronella sticks and sprays are pretty popular. In addition, the essential oil extracted from the plant is often used in the production of cosmetics and fragrances. You can get some of these advantages by growing citronella in your yard or producing your citronella sprays, candles, or oils using DIY techniques. See our articles on oil's many applications and their benefits while you're here. Oils are among the most potent compounds that may be found in nature.

Frequently Asked Questions