How to Use Citronella in Gardening


Many people garden with plants to attract insects and birds, such as butterflies and hummingbirds. At the same time, gardeners plant plants for their repellent nature, such as to deter deer, rodents and rabbits. Despite the lack of scientific evidence to back it up, many gardeners also plant plants with a citronella fragrance to help deter mosquitoes. Both citronella geraniums and citronella grass (Cymbopogon nardus) have a citronella fragrance, but it is the citronella grass in which the oils are extracted for mosquito repellent.

Step 1

Choose between citronella grass or citronella geraniums. They both let off a citronella fragrance which is thought to repel mosquitoes. Citronella grass grows year-round in USDA plant hardiness zones 10 to 11, but as an annual in cooler zones. Citronella geraniums can grow year-round in zones 9 to 11 and as annuals in cooler zones.

Step 2

Select a location in a sunny area that receives at least six to eight hours of sunlight. Both plants need a site that also has soil that drains water well.

Step 3

Plant citronella grass or geraniums along borders or as accents in the lawn. Grow them in an area where you can enjoy their fragrance, such as near a patio or an open window. You can also plant them in containers to bring inside during cold weather. Since they don’t actually provide mosquito protection, there is no need to plant them strategically for this purpose.

Things You'll Need

  • Citronella grass or citronella geraniums
  • Trowel or shovel
  • Container


  • North Carolina State University: Geranium Culture for Home Gardeners
  • University of Nebraska Lincoln: Healing Landscapes, Healthy Crops, and a Safe Environment
  • Floridata: Cymbopogon nardus
  • Fragrant Fields: Citronella Geranium
Keywords: citronella geraniums, citronella grass, citronella mosquito

About this Author

Melissa Lewis has been a professional writer since 2005. Her work has appeared in various online publications. A former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist, Lewis is also a script writer, with a movie script, "Homecoming," she co-wrote currently in production. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.