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How To Grow and Care for Citronella Grass?

Citronella grass

Mosquitoes are annoying.

They buzz around your head, bite you, and make you itch.

But there is a way to keep them away: citronella grass.

Citronella grass is a natural insect repellent that can be grown in your garden or a pot.

It is easy to care for and will help keep insects away all summer.

In this article, you’ll learn how to grow and care for a plant that combines beauty, fragrance, and natural repellent properties in one extraordinary plant.

What Is Citronella Grass?

If you love the smell of lemons, you’ll love citronella grass.

It’s a kind of grass that grows in warm places like Asia and Africa, but you can also grow it in your backyard if you take good care of it.

It has long, thin green or yellowish-green leaves and tiny white or purple flowers.

The best thing about citronella grass is that it keeps the bugs away.

It has oil that smells like lemons and makes the mosquitoes and other pests stay away from you.

Plus, it looks really nice in your garden, growing tall and thick and making everything look lush and green.

Here are some of the main benefits of growing citronella grass:

  • Fragrance: Citronella grass has a strong, citrusy scent that is pleasant to humans but deters mosquitoes and other insects.
  • Insect-repellent properties: Citronella oil is a natural insect repellent that can be used to keep mosquitoes and other insects away.
  • Ornamental value: Citronella grass is a tall, grass-like plant that can add beauty to any garden or landscape.
Citronella Essential Product

Citronella grass can be used to make citronella candles, incense, and essential oil. Citronella grass can also be used to create a natural insect-repellent spray.

Combine 1 part citronella oil with 10 parts water to make the spray. Spray the mixture on your skin or clothing to keep insects away.

How To Grow Citronella Grass?

Citronella grass
Source: Wikimedia

Citronella grass can be grown from seed or a plant.

Seeds are grown indoors about 6 weeks before the last frost. But Citronella grass plants can be planted outdoors at any time of year.

If you want your citronella grass to grow well, give it what it likes.

Here are the growing requirements.


Citronella grass is a tropical plant that prefers warm, humid climates.

It can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 10-12.

In colder climates, citronella grass can be grown as an annual or brought indoors during the winter.


Citronella Grass is adaptable to many soil types.

Well-draining soil is crucial for healthy citronella grass.

Aim for a pH level between 5.8 and 6.0.

Sandy loam or loamy soil types are ideal.

Sun Exposure

Citronella grass requires full sun exposure for at least six hours daily to promote robust growth and essential oil production.

It can tolerate partial shade, but it will not grow as well.

Water Requirements

While citronella grass is relatively drought-tolerant, consistent moisture is essential, especially during the establishment phase.

Water the plants when the soil’s top inch (2.5 cm) feels dry.

Planting Citronella Grass

Whether you choose seeds or cuttings, proper planting techniques are vital in ensuring successful growth.

Planting from Seeds

Consider these aspects:

  • Timing: Start seeds indoors 6-10 weeks before the last expected frost or sow them directly in the garden after the danger of frost has passed.
  • Soil Preparation: Prepare the soil by removing any weeds or debris. Loosen the soil and incorporate organic matter to improve drainage and fertility.
  • Planting: Sow the seeds about 1/4 inch (0.6 cm) deep in the soil. Space them 12-18 inches (30-45 cm) apart, allowing enough room for their clumps to expand.
  • Watering and Fertilizing: Keep the soil consistently moist, but avoid overwatering. Fertilize with a balanced organic fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season.

Propagating Citronella Grass

Citronella grass can be propagated by dividing the clumps or taking stem cuttings.

To divide the clumps, dig up the plant and separate the clumps with a sharp knife.

To take stem cuttings, cut a 6-inch (15 cm) piece of stem from the plant and plant it in well-drained soil.

How To Care for Citronella Grass?

Cymbopogon nardus
Source: Wikimedia

Citronella grass is relatively easy to care for.

The most important thing to remember is to keep the soil moist.

The plant should not be allowed to dry out completely.

Follow the caring tips below.


Citronella grass needs to be watered regularly, especially during hot, dry weather.

The soil should be kept moist but not soggy.


Citronella grass does not need to be fertilized often.

A light fertilizer application in the spring will help the plant grow and thrive.


Prune the plant in the spring or fall and remove any dead or damaged foliage throughout the growing season.

Consider harvesting the leaves for their aromatic properties, ensuring you leave enough foliage for the plant’s health.

Additional Care

Citronella grass is susceptible to powdery mildew.

You can treat the plant with a fungicide if you notice any signs of powdery mildew.

Possible Problems

Citronella grass is a relatively pest-free plant.

However, it can be susceptible to a few problems, including the following:

  • Powdery mildew: This fungal infection causes white, powdery spots on the leaves.
  • Aphids: These small insects can suck the sap from the leaves, causing them to wilt and turn yellow.
  • Spider mites: These tiny mites can cause the leaves to turn yellow and brown.

If you notice these problems, you can treat the plant with a pesticide.


With its captivating fragrance, natural insect-repellent qualities, and ornamental charm, citronella grass is a valuable addition to any garden or landscape.

Follow the steps outlined in this guide to cultivate and care for this remarkable plant, transforming your outdoor space into a tranquil sanctuary while keeping pesky bugs at bay.

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