How to Grow a Citronella Plant


The citronella plant is also called a mosquito plant and is a member of the geranium family. The plant emits a scent that repels mosquitoes if the oil is exposed to the air by crushing the leaves. The citronella plant consists mostly of large, green leaves that have irregularly shaped leaves. You can plant citronella outdoors in the spring, where it will grow until the first frost in the fall before dying back.



Things You’ll Need
  • Compost
  • 5-10-5 or 6-12-12 granular fertilizer
  • Shovel
  • Water
  • 10-10-10 or 8-8-8 slow-release granular fertilizer
    1. Wait until there is no chance of frost in the spring, and identify an outdoor planting site that receives at least six to eight hours of sunlight per day. The soil must be well drained, and the ideal location will have exposure to a mild breeze.
    2. Add 2 to 3 inches of well-rotted compost to the planting site, and work it into the top 5 to 6 inches of soil using a shovel or a pitchfork.
    3. Spread a 5-10-5 or 6-12-12 granular fertilizer to the planting area at a rate of 2 to 3 lbs. for every 100 square feet. Work it into the soil well using a shovel or pitch fork.
    4. Dig a hole in the planting site that is the same depth as the roots of the citronella plant. Insert the citronella roots into the center of the hole, and back fill the soil.
    5. Water the soil after planting until it is moist to a 3- or 4-inch depth. Afterward, water only once per week if the top of the soil dries out to the touch.
    6. Apply a 10-10-10 or 8-8-8 slow-release granular fertilizer every four to six weeks at a rate of 2 lbs. for every 100 square feet of soil area.
    7. Examine the citronella plant weekly, and pull off any yellow and dying leaves to force nutrients to the healthy parts of the citronella plant.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can also plant citronella in pots and set them around patios and outdoor seating areas to repel mosquitoes.

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