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Citronella (Mosquita Plant Geranium) Care Guide

Citronella (Mosquita Plant Geranium) Care Guide

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When you hear the word “citronella”, what first comes to mind? Most likely the oil used to repel annoying insects on a camping trip. But, where did this come from?

It actually belongs to a family of flowering plants called Geranium, found mainly in the tropical forests of Asia. It is therefore also called the Citronella geranium according to the University of California.

And as you may have guessed, they are known for discouraging mosquito visitors, even if that’s not necessarily the case.

The smells given off by Citronella plants are fragrant, though not all that effective in warding off unwanted bugs. Homeowners still choose to have these plants in their collection for two reasons.

They smell good, and they add a delicate touch with leaves that look like lace.

Small, but mighty might be an accurate way to describe members of Geranium. Being quite resilient, taking care of your own Citronella plant can be easy. If you’re new to plant care, or simply want to double-check your routine, feel free to read on.

This article will focus on all needs that a Citronella plant owner should be mindful of.

Citronella Care Guide


Caring for a plant can be tricky. To avoid any hassle, we’ve compiled all of the basic requirements such as soil, light, humidity, and many more. Take these into account and you’ll have a thriving Citronella on your hands!


Not all that specific in their taste of soil, these plants can happily live in a number of well-draining soils. For the best results, you should try to find an option that is moderately rich in organic material.

Simply adding a few inches of aged compost to the top half of the soil can accomplish this. The biggest take away for soil requirements is that it is well-draining.


With plants, a common problem is when the individual gets too much light. This is not the case for Citronella plants. In fact, you can put them in direct sunlight for about six hours each day.

Most Geranium owners have found partial shade to reap the best results whenever you can’t place it in a room with full sun. The best spot in your home would be near beside the patio wall, where there is natural shade.

Watering: If you choose to keep your Citronella plant indoors, you’ll want to give it some water. The rule of thumb is to check the top inch of soil. Whenever it feels dry to the touch, give your plant a thorough watering.

Just keep in mind that these plants are slightly tolerate to drought, making it easier for you.


The kryptonite of Geranium plants is that they do not thrive when placed in cold areas, especially in the case of frost. The optimal temperature for your Citronella plant is between 15 and 21 degrees Celsius.

Those who keep these individuals inside tend to do just fine!


You would expect a plant intended for mosquito repellant to be able to live in an area that has high humidity. And although it does not ward off insects, it does need a relatively moderate percentage of humidity.

This number should be anywhere between 40 and 70 percent. We know that this is a relatively high range, so just be aware of what other factors play in such as the natural humidity of your home.

Bathrooms tend to have more moisture, thus lowering the need to add a misting schedule.


Those who want to preserve the lemony scent of their Citronella plant should pay attention to how much fertilizer they are adding. Too much will leave your plant smelling less than fragrant.

For every square foot of soil, you should add about a large tablespoon of fertilizer. This will keep your plant without losing out on the aroma.


Citronella plants are quick to invade the corners of your house. To keep this from happening, you may want to invest some time in propagation. Most plant owners have had the most success with stem cuttings.

You can also choose to propagate a Citronella plant in water. Between the two methods, stem cuttings tend to be a bit easier. Don’t fret, as we will go over this in detail later on in the article!


The growth of your Citronella depends on where you choose to let it grow. Indoor plants tend to be smaller. Don’t underestimate them, however, as they will quickly take over the patio.

Individuals kept outdoors can reach a height of two or three feet, with a four-foot spread.


Taking into account that these plants grow quickly, you may also expect them to need to be repotted just as frequently. The minimum requirement for your plant’s first pot is that it be at least a foot in diameter.

Make sure that the underside has plenty of drainage holes to avoid root rotting. If you notice that the roots are becoming cramped, transfer it to a pot that is a few inches larger than the current living space.


As a grass species, the Citronella plant needs a good deal of water in order to thrive. But, how much will turn your fragrant flowers into a decaying display? Read on and find out the right way to tackle your watering schedule.


Some people find that these plants require water once per day. This doesn’t necessarily exist for all individuals. Variables such as temperature, humidity, and sun exposure can change how often you need to add water.

For a good indicator, look at the top inch of soil. Is it starting to dry out? This is when you should give it a thorough dousing.

Water is good for a plant’s soul, but overwatering can negative effects! Watering your Citronella plant too frequently will cause the plant to become flooded, leading to root rot. Let the soil dry out between watering sessions to ensure that you aren’t overdoing it.


If you’re still unsure about the watering of your beloved Geranium, you can invest in a tool that will lend a helping hand. Moisture meters are useful items that will tell you the percentage of water found in the soil.

You can either use this tool or simply stick your finger in the top layer of dirt!

Another useful note to consider is that these plants usually only need about 30 inches of water every year. That’s it!


Those who have gone too far with their watering should stay calm. Your Citronella plant is still salvageable. Signs of overwatering can include water spots on the leaves.

Once you see this, immediately desist from touching the watering can. Let your plant dry out completely and then start all over again.


Choosing to your replicate and multiply your Geranium is relatively easy for someone who isn’t plant savvy. The two most recognizable ways in which you can propagate a parent Citronella plant is through stem cuttings or water.

Regardless of the method you choose, you’ll need pots, a healthy adult plant, and fresh soil.


The following steps explain how you can create a new individual through stem cutting. Most agree that this is the easiest way in which to propagate a Citronella plant.

Step 1: Choose a healthy specimen that you wish to replicate.

Step 2: Locate a branch and make an incision so that the end of the plant and at least three nodes are present. This should be roughly three to five inches in length.

Step 3: Remove every leaf that you see except for the top two or three.

Step 4: Place the open side of the newly cut branch into a pot with fresh soil. Keep in mind that you should include at least a few, leaving a few inches apart to give the roots room to spread.

Step 5: Place these cuttings into a room that gets plenty of bright lighting, but do not place them into direct sunlight.

Step 6: Check back once a week, adding water to make sure that the top inch of soil is properly moist and roots should start to form in the next few weeks.

Step 7: Transfer new plants to their own separate pots once the roots become crowded.


Although slightly more challenging, Citronella plants can take root in water. Here are the steps if you wish to propagate your Geranium via water.

Step 1: Just as with stem cuttings, make incisions in a branch that are about five inches in length, making sure that there are at least two nodes present.

Step 2: Remove all leaves on the branch aside from the top two.

Step 3: Get a jar and fill it up with water so that the cuttings are submerged up until the top leaves, and place them into the liquid. Be careful about your placement. The cuttings should have plenty of light, but not directly be in the sun.

Step 4: After about a week, you can plant your new individuals, as they should have taken root by then.


Pruning a plant can be done for a multitude of reasons. It can happen to ensure that the plant remains healthy, or simply to improve the overall aesthetic.

The foliage of a Citronella plant grows at a somewhat rapid speed, meaning that you should prune every few weeks.

To properly prune your Geranium, you’ll want to know which parts of the plant to remove. In terms of the foliage itself, take away any leaves that appear to yellow.

These individuals also have geraniums, or a cluster of flowers. These two need to be removed once they die. The stems should also be stripped away when blooms are no longer visible.


Growing a Citronella plant indoors is an easy feat, even for those who lack a green thumb! That does not mean, however, that you shouldn’t be aware of the potential problems that can exist.

Sudden changes in any variable such as temperature, moisture, sunlight, or more can have negative impacts on your Geranium.

This section is aimed to help you be able to identify any problems so that you can stop them long before your Citronella plant kicks the bucket!

Telltale sign number 1: Droopy Leaves

Cause: Leaves that droop and take on a brown hue typically are saying that they aren’t taking in enough sunlight.

Remedy: The best solution is to look at where the plant is placed. If it isn’t close to a window, you may want to find one. No readily available windows nearby? Don’t worry! You can use a grow light to give it that extra boost.

Telltale sign number 2: Spots

Cause: Contrary to a fully brown coloration, you may see spots in this shade along the leaves. These problems are caused by the act of overwatering.

Remedy: You may be tempted to fix this issue by drastically under-watering. We suggest that you instead check the underside of the pot. A lack of drainage holes will make the roots rots.

Let the plant dry out and then continue watering, keeping the top inch of soil moist.


Here are a few takeaways in order to keep your Geranium happy!

1. Allow your plant to soak up about six hours of sunlight each day.

2. Keep your Citronella on the drier side, only watering until the top inch of soil begins to dry out.

3. Be sure to choose a pot that has ample drainage.

4. The temperature should stay somewhere between 15 and 21 degrees Celsius without sudden drops.

5. Prune your plant every few weeks to avoid cramping of the foliage.


Do Citronella plants work against mosquitos?

It’s true that they do repel mosquitos, just not as well as people believe! You’ll need to apply quite a bit for it to actually work.

Is Citronella plant and lemongrass the same?

Although used in very similar ways, these two grasses are not related.

How is Citronella oil used?

The most common uses for Citronella oil include massages, skin and hair repair, anti-inflammatory.