Citronella is herbaceous plant similar to lemongrass. While the leaves of lemongrass are just like a glass blade, the Citronella leaves are similar to geranium. Known for its ability to repel mosquitoes, Citronella is frequently grown in gardens and indoors almost everywhere in the world.
The scientific name of this plant is Pelargonium Citrosum. It is a genus of shrubs and trees under the family Cardipteridaceae. Its native place is Central and South America, Southeast Asia and part of Islands of Western Pacific. Basically, it belongs to the tropical regions.
As such these plants are vulnerable to frost and cold. So, normally in the tropical conditions, it survives and grows successfully in gardens but in the cold areas, it needs to be shifted indoor during the frosty weather conditions.
Citronella is an evergreen and perennial plant in warmer areas whereas it is a cold tender annual plant in frosty conditions. It can attain a height of up to three feet when grown in gardens but remains somewhat dwarf if grown in pots and containers. Normally they require bright sunshine for the most part of the day but they have the ability to survive well under partial shade as well.
Though basically, they have the reputation of a mosquito repellent, Citronella is also known for its fragrance. That’s why it is also used in bouquets. Its leaves give quite a nice and pleasant fragrance when rubbed or crushed.
People love to place Citronella in porches that helps repel mosquitoes and gives a pleasant fragrance as well. It doesn’t need any extra care or maintenance. That makes it a firsthand choice for any household.
Though it needs very little care, in this article we will give you some useful tips on how to care for citronella, enabling you to keep your plants in good healthier conditions.
Citronella needs a warm atmosphere to flourish. As said earlier, it may need a bright direct sunshine for quite an extended period during the day. So, better to plant them in a place where ample sunshine is available.
However, they can survive well in a partial shady condition also. But these are vulnerable to frost. Therefore in cold areas, you must shift these plants to inside during the winter season, especially when it is frosty.
Despite the fact that they need to be shifted inside during the winter, they still need the good amount of sunlight during this frosty weather condition. So, when shifted inside, make sure to place them near the windows where ample sunshine is available for a good part of the day.
Care While Inside
When placed inside, Citronella needs a little bit of extra care. It needs sunlight, so place them near a window. Deep watering is also required for Citronella while placed inside. Additionally, they may require a couple of doses of nutrients mixed in plant food or fertilizer.
Citronella plants need a well-drained soil, otherwise, they may develop various diseases under overwatering conditions. So, take care of soil; make sure it drains out sufficiently.
However, a situation may arise, when soil becomes unable to drain out the excess water. This is the time to replace the old soil with new and fresh one. Remove the plant gently and throw away the old soil, replace new fresh soil and replant the citronella.
Citronella has a woody stem, which enables you to propagate new plants. Expert recommends layering technique to get new plants each time you may need to have. Let’s see what is layering and how it is done.
- Place a container or pot just next to the existing citronella plant. Fill the pot or container with good quality potting soil. This should be done during the summer season, preferably during the latter half.
- Now bend the stem of the existing citronella plant very carefully so that it doesn’t break. Bring this bent stem over the soil in your new pot or container.
- Bury this stem in the soil of the pot. Make sure that at least one leaf must be attached near the point where you bury the stem in soil. Place a stone or any other such thing that can hold the stem in that position.
- Give water to the new pot regularly so that the soil remains moist but not overwatered.
- Keep a close watch on this new pot and you will notice that the stem has developed its roots inside the pot within a couple of weeks.
- Once the stem has developed its own roots, it is now time to cut it from the mother plant carefully.
- By now winter season must have set in, so it is now time to shift your newly propagated plant inside to protect it from cold weather conditions. But make sure it gets ample sunlight while kept inside.
For taking benefit of citronella as a mosquito repellent plant, you have to grow it in the garden. For this purpose, dig a hole in the ground that should be double the size of the pot from where you intend to transplant the Citronella in your backyard garden.
Carefully uproot the plant from the pot and place it in the hole dug in the ground for this purpose. Fill the hole with a good quality potting soil mixture. The mixture must contain three parts of potting soil and one part normal garden soil. Don’t forget to give water at this stage.
As this plant needs direct sunlight, make sure that the place selected for growing your Citronella for mosquito repelling should be placed in your garden where it can get the good amount of direct sunshine for the most part of the day.
Citronella plant also has different uses other than the mosquito repelling ability. It has its own medicinal and cosmetic properties as well. For this, you have to prepare the citronella oil, which is extracted from the leaves and stems of the Citronella.
It has its utility as an analgesic, antibacterial, fungicidal, antiseptic and sedative agent. It is also used as an anxiety-relieving agent through aromatherapy.
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