Phaidra Roberge

Written by Phaidra Roberge

Modified & Updated: 01 Jun 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


Citronella plant is a fascinating and versatile plant that is known for its aromatic properties and various uses. Whether you are a gardening enthusiast or simply curious about plants, learning about the citronella plant can be incredibly interesting. From its unique aroma to its impressive insect-repellent properties, this plant has captured the attention of many people around the world.

In this article, we will explore 13 astonishing facts about the citronella plant that will not only enhance your knowledge but also deepen your appreciation for this remarkable plant. So, let’s dive in and discover the fascinating world of the citronella plant!

Key Takeaways:

  • Citronella plants are not the source of citronella oil used in repellents. The true citronella oil comes from lemongrass, which has potent mosquito-repellent properties due to its high levels of citronellal.
  • Citronella plants are low-maintenance and have culinary uses. They can be grown in containers, attract beneficial insects, and emit a refreshing fragrance, making them a versatile and valuable addition to any garden.
Table of Contents

The citronella plant is not actually a true citronella.

Contrary to popular belief, the citronella plant (Cymbopogon nardus) is not the source of citronella oil used in repellents. The plant contains citronellol, which has a similar scent to citronella, but it is not as effective in repelling mosquitoes.

The true citronella oil comes from a different plant.

The genuine citronella oil used as a mosquito repellent is derived from Cymbopogon winterianus, also known as lemongrass. The essential oil extracted from this plant has potent mosquito-repellent properties due to its high levels of citronellal.

Citronella plants are perennial grasses.

The citronella plant is a perennial grass that grows in tropical and sub-tropical regions. It thrives in warm climates and requires a well-drained soil to flourish. It can reach a height of up to 5 to 6 feet when fully grown.

The leaves of the citronella plant are intensely fragrant.

When the leaves of the citronella plant are crushed or rubbed, they release an intense citronella aroma. This fragrance acts as a natural mosquito repellent and is often used in candles, sprays, and lotions.

The citronella plant attracts beneficial insects.

While citronella is known for repelling mosquitoes, it actually attracts beneficial insects such as bees, butterflies, and ladybugs. These insects play a crucial role in pollination and pest control in gardens.

Citronella plants require full sun to thrive.

The citronella plant is a sun-loving plant that needs at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. It is best to plant it in a location where it can receive ample sunlight for optimal growth.

The plant can be propagated from cuttings.

To propagate a citronella plant, you can take stem cuttings and root them in well-drained soil. Once the cuttings establish a root system, they can be transplanted into separate containers or directly into the garden.

The citronella plant has culinary uses.

The leaves of the citronella plant can be used to flavor various dishes and beverages. It adds a unique citrusy and herbal flavor to soups, stir-fries, teas, and cocktails.

Citronella plants are low-maintenance.

Once established, citronella plants require minimal care. They are drought-tolerant and do not need frequent watering. However, regular pruning can help maintain their compact shape and encourage new growth.

Citronella plants can be grown in containers.

If you have limited garden space, you can grow citronella plants in containers. Choose a large pot with drainage holes and use well-draining soil. Place the container in a sunny spot and water the plant when the top inch of soil feels dry.

The citronella plant is a natural air freshener.

Aside from repelling mosquitoes, the citronella plant emits a refreshing fragrance that can naturally freshen up your surroundings. It is a great addition to patios, balconies, and outdoor entertaining areas.

Citronella plants can be used in companion planting.

Planting citronella near other garden plants can help repel pests and deter harmful insects. It can be beneficial to pair citronella with plants such as basil, marigold, lavender, and catnip to create a natural pest control system.

The citronella plant has cultural significance.

In some cultures, the citronella plant is believed to have spiritual and medicinal properties. It has been used in traditional remedies for various ailments, including digestive disorders, coughs, and fevers.


The citronella plant is truly a remarkable and fascinating addition to any garden or patio. With its ability to repel mosquitoes and add a refreshing lemony scent to the air, it is not only a functional plant but also a beautiful one. From its origins as a tropical grass to its versatility in various forms, citronella continues to amaze us with its numerous benefits. Whether you choose to grow it in a pot or in the ground, the citronella plant is a must-have for anyone looking to create a mosquito-free outdoor space. So go ahead, embrace the power of citronella and enjoy a summer free from pesky mosquitoes!


1. Can I grow citronella plants indoors?

Yes, citronella plants can thrive indoors as long as they receive adequate sunlight and are placed in well-draining soil. Remember to bring them outside during warmer months to encourage healthy growth.

2. How do I care for my citronella plant?

Citronella plants require regular watering, but be careful not to overwater as they prefer slightly drier conditions. They also benefit from occasional fertilization and pruning to promote bushy growth.

3. Will citronella plants repel all mosquitoes?

Citronella plants are most effective in repelling certain species of mosquitoes, including the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is known to transmit diseases like dengue fever and Zika virus. However, they may have limited effectiveness against other types of mosquitoes.

4. Can I use citronella leaves for cooking?

While citronella leaves have a lemony fragrance, they are not commonly used for culinary purposes. It is best to use other herbs such as lemon balm or lemongrass for adding a citrus flavor to your dishes.

5. Are citronella plants safe for pets?

Citronella plants are generally non-toxic to pets. However, it is always a good idea to monitor your pets and prevent them from ingesting large amounts of any plant material.

Citronella plants offer a natural way to keep mosquitoes at bay, but their fascinating qualities don't stop there. Gardeners love their low-maintenance nature and versatility in outdoor plants like the unique umbrella plant. If you're curious about other intriguing garden plants, check out the astonishing facts about Helleborus. Citronella's fragrant leaves also make it a popular choice for essential oils, which have a wide range of surprising uses and benefits.

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