Nearly everyone knows that the scent of citronella repels annoying mosquitoes. Assuming the citronella plant--a scented geranium--repels mosquitoes from your yard is a reasonable assumption, particularly since aggressive marketing has promoted it as a "mosquito plant." The truth is, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studies reveal that rubbing the leaves on the skin may provide some protection, but growing the plant in a pot does not. When disturbed, its frilly green foliage releases a burst of fragrance, making this an attractive and refreshing plant for decks or porches, even if it fails as a mosquito repellent.
Look for plants labeled as citronella plant, lemon or citronella scented geranium, or mosquito plant. These names are used interchangeably depending on the retailer.
Examine foliage for any signs of disease or insects. Look on the underside of leaves, along stems and on the surface of the soil. Gray mold or a mossy green growth indicates too much water or poor growing conditions. Soil should smell fresh and appear dark brown.
Visually inspect foliage and assess the color. Healthy foliage is a rich, dark green. Pale or small leaves indicate a lack of light or other environmental stress.
Check the stalks to determine their health. Look for thick, sturdy stalks with dense foliage. Tall, spindly stems with sparse foliage indicate a lack of light.
Turn the plant over and examine the roots. Roots that protrude out of the drainage holes indicate the plant is root bound.