How to Grow Citronella Plant, The Mosquito Plant

Citronella Flower Plant

About Growing Citronella Plants in Your Garden or on the Deck

Citronella plants are perennial plants grown for their attractive foliage. Additionally, Citronella flowers put on a beautifully attractive display, too. The flowers bloom at various times of the garden season, depending upon where you live as well as a variety of other factors.  Also called the Mosquito plant, it is a member of the geranium family. This guide shows you how to grow citronella plants. It’s easy!!

The common belief is that the oil in these plants wards off mosquitos. As a result, many people grow them on their patio or deck. However, the plants do not deter mosquitoes without a little help. Touching or rubbing the leaves gives off a pleasant, lemony scent that deters mosquitoes and other insects. And, if you rub the leaves on your arm or other parts of your body, it offers some protection from mosquitos. 

Citronella plants look good in flower gardens and along high-traffic areas and walkways.  They look great grown in containers on your patio or deck. They grow well in lightly shaded areas, too.

Citronella plants are toxic to dogs and cats.

Important Note: This plant is not the same as Citronella Grass, which is related to Lemongrass.

Other Names: Mosquito Plant, Citrosa Plant, Citronella Scented Geranium

Flowers Bloom: April to October, depending upon the region of the country.

Flower Colors: Pink, purple, white, yellow, and bi-colors.

Plant Height: Plants grow 12 to 24 inches tall.

Plant Hardiness Zones: 9 – 11

Perennial, Pelargonium Cintronella

Citronella Flower Plant Propagation

Citronella plants are propagated in three ways:

  1. Seeds
  2. Root Cutting
  3. Plant Division 

Root cuttings are a popular way to make new Citronella plants. It is best done in the spring to early summer when the mother plant is vigorously growing. Take a six-to-eight-inch section of a young stem. Plant it in moist garden soil with at least one leaf node planted below the soil, and one leaf node above the soil. Keep the soil moist. In a few weeks, you will see active growth on the new plant. More on propagation from cuttings and rooting

Plant division is most successful in the spring. Dig up the plant. Separate it into clumps and replant it. Learn about Plant Division and Root Separation

Final Plant Spacing:  18 to 24 inches apart

Days to Seed Germination: Plants sprout in 7 to 10 days.

About Seed Germination

How to Grow Citronella Flower Plants

Citronella plants are fun and easy to grow. This plant is a tender perennial. Make the first planting after all danger of frost has passed. They grow best in full sun. But, they tolerate a light, partial shade. In hotter regions of the country, they grow best planted in an area where there is a little protection from the hot afternoon sun.

Citronella plants grow best in deep, fertile soil that is well-drained.

After planting in the garden, spread a thick, 3 – 4 inch layer of mulch around the plant. The mulch helps to retain soil moisture. And, it helps to keep the weeds down.

Water the plants as needed. Keep the soil moist, not wet. Allow the soil to dry an inch or two deep between watering.

Fertilize the plants once per month during the growing season. For container plants use a liquid fertilizer or fertilizer spikes.

Deadhead spent blooms. This will encourage new blooms and helps to keep the plant neat and tidy in appearance. Prune plants to give them a bushier appearance. If the plant is growing too lanky or too tall, pinch back the growing tips.

Ideal Soil pH: 5.8 – 6.5.

Also, see:

Plant Problems – Identify the causes and find the cures.

Insects and Plant Disease

Citronella plants can be bothered by aphids, caterpillars, mealybugs, and whiteflies.

Obviously, the Mosquito plant is not bothered by mosquitoes.

This plant is virtually disease-free.

Citronella Plant Problems

Watch for these occasional problems:

  • Browning leaves is the result of too much direct sunlight.
  • Brown spots on leaves are caused by either too much water or the soil is too wet.
  • Drooping leaves is a result of either not enough sunlight or not enough water.  

Winterizing Plants

In warmer regions of the country, they are grown outdoors year-round.

In colder areas, overwinter them in a garage or greenhouse that does not go below freezing.

Many people bring Citronella plants indoors for the winter months. Check carefully, to assure you are not bringing any bugs in with your plants. Grow them in light, partial shade.

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