How to Buy Citronella Plants


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.

Step 1

Look for plants labeled as citronella plant, lemon or citronella scented geranium, or mosquito plant. These names are used interchangeably depending on the retailer.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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.

Step 4

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.

Step 5

Turn the plant over and examine the roots. Roots that protrude out of the drainage holes indicate the plant is root bound.


  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension: Healing Landscapes, Helathy Crops and Safe Environment
  • Iowa State University Extension: Plant Advertisements: Fact verses Fiction

Who Can Help

  • North Carolina State University Extension: Geranium Culture for Home Gardens
Keywords: citronella plant, mosquito plants, scented geranium

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.