How to Take Care of a Citronella Plant


Citronella is a scented geranium in the Pelargonium genus that is said to help keep mosquitoes and other flying insects away from areas where it grows. It's an attractive annual with small lavender flowers that does very well as a potted plant, although you can plant it in your garden if you like. It grows to about 2 feet tall. Because the citronella-scented geranium is a patented hybrid, it is available only as a starter plant and not as seeds. You can most likely find this fragrant plant in a small pot at your local nursery.

Step 1

Transplant your young citronella geranium to a larger pot or into your garden. If you're repotting it, use a good potting soil that will provide good drainage. If you'll be planting it in the ground, choose an area with good drainage that receives full sun 6 to 8 hours each day. This plant also thrives where air circulation around it is good.

Step 2

Water your citronella geranium well after you plant it and keep the soil moist but not soggy.

Step 3

Pinch off any leaves that turn yellow---this is a normal occurrence. You can also prune any spent flowers or rambling branches to keep it looking attractive.

Step 4

Fertilize with a high nitrogen plant food once each month to keep the leaves green.

Step 5

Control insects such as scale with insecticidal soap or a combination of canola oil mixed with it. One tablespoon of oil to 1 qt. of soapy water is the correct proportion.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never drink isopropyl alcohol, or anything that contains it.

Things You'll Need

  • Citronella geranium plant
  • Well-drained potting soil
  • Clay or ceramic pot with drainage hole
  • Area with full sun
  • High nitrogen plant food
  • Insecticidal soap
  • Canola oil


  • Fragrant Fields
  • Mosquito Repelling Plants
  • Citronella Grass
Keywords: Pelargonium citrosa, citronella geranium, insect repellent

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.