Your Guide To: Citronella

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From its lemony scent to wavy leaves, citronella makes a great addition to any garden. In addition to appealing to the senses, its leaves also produce an oil that may help deter mosquitoes when rubbed on the skin.

How to Keep Citronella Happy

Plant citronella in the spring after the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed. We recommend spacing each plant 18 to 24 inches apart so they have enough room to reach their full potential. Citronella is a perennial in zones 9-11, so you can enjoy the plant all year round. If you don’t live in those zones, you can still care for your plant indoors once winter hits (as long as it’s potted). Not sure what zone you’re in? Find out here.

How Much Lighting Does Citronella Need?

Citronella plants need around 6 hours of indirect sunlight per day. If you are growing indoors and worried your space will not get enough light for your citronella plant, a grow light is a great solution. Grow lights bring the strength of the sun indoors, even in basements or other dark areas of your home.

How Do I Know When to Water Citronella?

Regularly check the soil surrounding your citronella plant. If the top inch is dry, it’s time to give it a drink of water. Citronella plants do best in pots with trays or saucers so you can dump extra water and avoid root rot.

How Do I Use Plant Food for Citronella?

Plant food is an important part of fostering healthy growth. We recommend feeding your citronella plant with Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food once every 7 to 14 days. The plant fertilizer instantly feeds to grow bigger, more beautiful plants compared to unfed plants. Just mix with water according to package directions and feed at the base of the plant—it’s that easy.

What is Citronella’s Ideal Environment?

Citronella isn’t picky, as long as it’s getting the necessary amount of sun and water. You can plant citronella in containers to dress up your deck or front porch, or use them as a vivid green backdrop in your in-ground garden or landscape. Though citronella tolerates a range of soils, we recommend planting in moderately rich, moist soil to produce the best growth. If container gardening is your thing, make sure to plant in a pot with drainage holes to avoid root rot.

How Do I Prune and Maintain Citronella?

Citronella grows up to 2 to 3 feet in height, so pruning the plant is necessary to maintain compact fullness. Pinch off any dead blooms and small stems with your fingers, then use garden shears to cut back any long, thick branches.

Show Them You Care

(6 Recommended)

Everything you need to care for your citronella plant, and more.

Show Them You Care

(6 Recomended)

Everything you need to care for your citronella plant, and more.


How Do I Harvest Citronella?

Simply cut its stems! The plant looks great in a summer bouquet with hibiscus and dahlias. You can also crush its leaves and rub the oil on your skin to naturally deter mosquitoes.

How to Address Common Citronella Issues

Citronella plants will stretch and fall over if they aren’t receiving the proper amount of light. Simply cut back the long, lanky branches, then make a mental note to give your plant more sun next year.

What to Do if I Still Have Questions

Our plant experts are here for you if you need advice about citronella or buying herb and vegetable plants online. With a vast array of plants for delivery, you’ll be sure to find the right option to elevate your space. Visit our website, email at [email protected], or chat live with a Greendigs team member to get all of your growing questions answered.