How to Grow Citronella

Опубликовал Admin
28-03-2021, 20:20
The citronella plant, also known as the mosquito plant or pelagonium, is actually a type of geranium. Interestingly enough, it does not produce citronella oil, which actually comes from lemongrass. The citronella plant is often touted for its ability to repel mosquitos, there’s no actual evidence that it keeps them away. However, the citronella plant’s lovely lemon scent makes it an excellent addition to your garden. It’s also a perennial, which means you’ll be able to keep it around for years to come!

Planting Your Citronella

  1. Pick up some potted citronella cuttings to keep things simple. You can grow citronella from seeds or juvenile plants, but it takes much longer to grow. Without a doubt, the most popular way to grow a citronella plant is from a cutting. You can either buy a pre-potted cutting, or clip a healthy branch off of an adult citronella plant to take a cutting yourself. If you do this, be sure to take at least 4 inches (10 cm) of any branch with a leaf on it.
    • The potting process is the exact same for juvenile citronella plants if you really want to go that route. Citronella is one of the easiest plants to grow from a cutting though, so it’s the best choice if you don’t want to wait a year or two for you plant to grow.
  2. Find a sunny part of your yard with no shade cover or obstructions. Citronella requires a lot of direct sunlight, so you can’t plant it near any trees or overhangs. Choose an area at least 2 feet (0.61 m) away from other plants if you’re growing it directly in your yard. Otherwise, choose a sunny location to place your potted plant.
    • Citronella plants tend to grow more vertically than horizontally, and they aren’t particularly competitive with other plants. Still, it’s better to plant it at least 2 feet (0.61 m) away from other plants.
    • It’s exceptionally difficult to grow citronella indoors, strictly because it requires so much sun. You can try if you’d like, though. Pick an east-facing window that gets plenty of sunlight if you’re going with this option.
  3. Plant your citronella in the spring when it’s around 65 °F (18 °C). After the last frost has passed, wait 1-2 weeks for the soil to warm up. Wait for a day when it’s a little warmer to pot or plant your citronella. Citronella is a perennial, but it still needs to be planted in the early spring so that the roots have time to develop before the growing season.
    • You can plant or pot your plant in the autumn or late summer if you live in an area with especially warm winters if you prefer.
  4. Plant your citronella in a deep pot if you’re growing it in a container. Citronella will grow up to 4 feet (1.2 m) in a pot, so it’s important to grab a pot that’s at least 12 inches (30 cm) deep and 8–10 inches (20–25 cm) in diameter. Choose a pot that has plenty of drainage holes at the bottom. It doesn’t matter if your pot is plastic or ceramic.
    • If you do want to plant the citronella in an indoor pot, do it early in the spring to give it a lot of light in the early growing stages. It’s really better if you can plant it outside, though.
  5. Use a well-drained soil comprised of loam and chalk or sand. Any neutral or slightly alkaline soil will work so long as it is peat-free and has a pH of 6-7. Either mix 2-parts loam with 1-part chalk or sand, or pick up a premixed bag of soil at your local gardening store.
    • You can tell if a soil is well draining or not by pouring a little water on it. If the water takes a few seconds to drain and there’s a small pool on the surface, it’s not well-draining. Well-drained soil will immediately drain when you pour water on it.
    • Don’t use anything with peat. Citronella won’t grow well in soil that has peat in it.
  6. Dig a potting hole if necessary and add a thin layer of soil-based compost. Take your empty pot or dig out a 12 in (30 cm) hole in your garden. Add a 1–2 in (2.5–5.1 cm) layer of soil-based compost to the bottom of the hole or container. You can use a store-bought compost that lists soil as on of its main ingredients, or make your own compost using a peat-free soil as the base.
  7. Fill in the remainder of the hole with soil and add your citronella plant. Pour your loam-based soil directly into the container or hole. If you’re planting a cutting, simply fill the hole or container all the way and push the cutting 2–3 inches (5.1–7.6 cm) into the soil. If you are potting a juvenile citronella plant, leave a 6–8 inches (15–20 cm) hole in your container or garden and gently lift the plant out of the original pot. Place it in the center of the hole.
    • Fill in any gaps with additional soil. You do not need to compact the soil or anything.
    • Give the plant a gentle spritz of 3–4 teaspoons (15–20 mL) of water. It doesn’t need a lot of water to get going.

Watering and Caring for Your Plant

  1. Water your citronella every 1-2 weeks in the summer months. Citronella does not require a lot of water. Starting a few days after you first plant them, water the soil surrounding the plant for 5-6 seconds until the surface of the soil is damp. Do this once every 1-2 weeks depending on whether your plant appears healthy or not.
    • If the leaves are dried out or the plant isn’t growing, stick with watering once a week. If the plant is doing fine with less frequent watering, only water the soil sparingly. Citronella doesn’t tend to need a lot of water.
  2. Give the citronella fertilizer every 10-14 days in the spring. Pick up a balanced liquid fertilizer with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the container to give the citronella a healthy dose of nutrients and minerals. This will encourage growth as the plant develops its root system. Any
    • Any fertilizer with a near-equal distribution of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium will work just fine.
  3. Switch to a high-potassium fertilizer after flowers start to form. Once the plant begins flowering, switch to a high-potassium fertilizer. Tomato fertilizer works great for this, but any mixture around 15-20-28 will work. Follow the directions on the label to continue feeding your plants every 10-14 days.
    • Stop using the fertilizer in the fall.
    • If you don’t have a flowering variety of citronella, swap to the potassium fertilizer in mid-summer when the plant has grown considerably.
  4. Cover the citronella in compost or take cuttings before winter starts. Citronella is a perennial, meaning that it will live for more than 2 years. If you live in a tropical climate or an area with warm winters, you can simply cut it back and cover it with a thin layer of compost. Alternatively, you can trim the plant down and take some cuttings. Repot your cuttings indoors using the same method you used to plant your citronella originally.

Controlling Pests and Protecting Your Plant

  1. Prune the citronella flowers and leaves whenever they begin to wilt. If any of the leaves or flowers begin to lose color or wilt, trim them off. Trim any branches that begin losing color or drying out entirely. This isn’t typically an issue during the summer months, but you may need to prune the plant in the autumn when the plant is ready to go dormant.
    • If your plant requires constant pruning in the summer, you’re likely not watering it enough.
  2. Cut back on water if you notice dark spots on the tops of leaves. If you see dark dots popping up all over the tops of your leaves, your plant is likely developing leaf spots. Don’t worry, this is manageable. Remove any destroyed leaves or branches, begin watering the soil every 2-3 weeks, and avoid directly watering the leaves until the condition clears up.
    • This is a common issue for citronella. The plant is pretty resistant to disease, but it can attract bacteria.
  3. Discard the citronella and wash the soil if you find black spots under the leaves. If you see spots on the undersides of the leaves, you’re running into blight. This condition is unrecoverable, so you must cut your plants down, throw them out, and wash the soil thoroughly with water. Wash all of your tools, hands, and clothes with soap and water to avoid spreading the blight.
  4. Use an organic insecticide oil to protect your plants from pests. Citronella is an attractive target for whiteflies, caterpillars, mealybugs, and other pests. To keep them off of your citronella, fill a spray bottle with neem or horticultural oil and gently mist your plants every month during the growing season. This oil will keep annoying bugs off of your plants and do a great job of treating any current infestations.
    • Neem or horticultural oil will coat the plant in an organic oil that will suffocate any bugs already on the plant. If a pest does land on a treated plant, it won’t stick around for long since the oil will dissuade them from settling down there.
    • These oils won’t harm your plants since they’re organic and don’t impact the growing process. Avoid synthetic insecticides whenever possible.


  • There are plants that repel mosquitos, but citronella isn’t one of them. Lemongrass, lemon thyme, and eucalyptus are much more likely to scare the mosquitos away.

Things You’ll Need

  • Loamy soil
  • Trowel or spade
  • Fertilizer
  • Water
  • Compost
  • Neem or horticultural oil
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