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How to Winterize Citronella Geraniums

The citronella geranium, also sometimes called a "mosquito shoo" geranium in mail order plant catalogs because of its lemon scent, is from the genus pelargonium, the scented geranium family. It is categorized as an annual, but the citronella geranium can last for many years if brought indoors during winter, or by propagating the plant through cuttings you keep indoors during winter. If left outside after temperatures dip below 32 degrees F, the plant will die.

Place the citronella geranium in a pot with some commercial potting soil if it is currently in the ground.

Trim the geranium even across the top, removing approximately one-third of its height. Use small pruning shears for this and cut at a 45-degree angle above a leaf node on each stem.

Trim off any brown or diseased-looking stems and leaves.

Place the pot in a sunny location, preferably south-facing to get as much of the winter months' sun as possible, and water regularly. Indoor heating may dry the soil more frequently than the outdoor weather did.


Grubs, the larval stage of insects such as Japanese beetles, could be living in soil of a potted geranium if it spent the warmer months outdoors. If you find flying bugs appearing in your house during the winter (when they should be dead or sleeping) and suspect the geranium pot was the culprit, next season re-pot the plant into fresh potting soil from an unopened bag, and then bring the plant indoors for the winter.

Citronella geraniums can also "sleep" inside your house in a cool, dark location, such as a basement, as long as the temperature stays between 45 and 60 degrees F. If you want to do this, you can trim them much shorter, to about 6 inches from the root. Remove them from the basement in February and place in a sunny indoor location to wake them up and get them ready to move back outdoors after all chance of frost has passed.

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