Citronella is one of the most popular kitchen spices used for cooking. It gives a flavors in your cooks. It can also be used for many other purposes in your kitchen. It can be said that citronella has so many benefits. So, you need to have it in your kitchen. Rather than buying citronella in the market, it will be better if you grow it by your own. The plant can be used to keep mosquito away. Therefore, you have to know how to grow citronella plant and care citronella (mosquito plant geranium).
What Are Citronella Plant
Citronella plants feature medium-green, lacy leaves and pink flowers that bloom during the summer. They have an upright growth pattern, reaching between 2 to 3 feet tall. Although the foliage exudes a pleasant citronella fragrance when bruised, it does little to keep mosquitoes at bay.
Gardeners must plant citronella plants from the nursery as soon as all danger of frost passes. Citronella thrive in partial shade in hot locations but should be planted in full sun along the coast and in other areas that enjoy relatively mild seasonal temperatures.
Citronella is a kind of plant that is used by many people for cooking. It makes our cooks smell and taste better. That is why it becomes one of the most common used kitchen spices. This cooking spice contains any good nutrients. The most popular contents are geranial and citronellal. Those 2 nutrients make citronella has many benefits related to many things such as beauty, health, etc.
The Benefits of Citronella
Before we talk more about how to plant citronella and care citronella (mosquito plant geranium), we need to know its benefits first. There are so many benefits of citronella that I can mention. One of the benefits relates to health. Citronella contains some types of vitamin and minerals. There are vitamin A, B2, B3, B5, B6, and C. Minerals such as iron, zinc, copper, manganese, phosphor, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. In addition, citronella does not contain fat or cholesterol can danger our health. So, it’s safe for cooking spices and can improve our health.
The most popular and effective benefit of citronella is as a natural plant that can keep away from insects especially mosquito. Citronella has a good smell for human but the smell makes insects like mosquito cannot stand on it.
How can we keep away from mosquito or other insects using this natural plant? It is very easy. You just need to follow this. Firstly, mix some drops of citronella oil with enough water. Then, pour it into a spraying bottle. Lets pray onto your skin and room and there will not be mosquitoes or other insects all day.
Don’t get it wrong, what you need is not the citronella leaves but the citronella oil to keep away mosquito or other insects.
What Does Citronella Look Like
Citronella grows and belongs to clump of herbaceous plants. Usually has long leaves where the leaves don’t have any stem. The length of the citronella leaves can be about 50 up to 100 centimeters. However, it can be shorter or longer depending on the condition of the citronella itself. For the width, it can be more or less about 1.5 centimeters.
Compared to the other plants that are similar to it, citronella has rough and thicker at the bottom or base whereas the tips are smoother and thinner. The bones of the leaves are located at the center of the leaves in line. The edges of citronella leaves are very slim and sharp, so it can make you feel irritated or even bleeding when it touches your skin. Always wear gloves to pick citronella at your garden.
We can recognize citronella more easily until the leaves get more longer. If the leaves are still short, it may be a little bit difficult to recognize because it may look like grass. The older this plant is, the leaves will be more crowded and the leaves will not be purely green but it will look yellowish.
Where to Find Citronella Plant for Sale
Basically, you have 2 choices. The first choice is you can buy it at a market. In this option, you can choose the citronella directly and you have to make sure that it is still fresh or not. The second choice is you can buy citronella via online. Today, there are so many the online shops sell citronella. So, you can buy it more easily.
Tips For Buying Citronella
To find the best one, you have to choose citronella that is fresh and not wrinkled. Besides that, you should also pay attention to the stem where you must prioritize citronella that has tight stem and comes with white ivory color.
Then, you also need to pay attention to the leaves of citronella. You have to make sure that the leaves are still fresh and the smell is good. If the leaves look yellowish or brownish, you have to find another one because it is not fresh. In addition, you also need to pay attention to the roots. If the roots are too rough, it means that the citronella is too old so you have to find the younger one. Too old citronella is not good for spices, mosquito plant geranium, or any other purpose.
How to Grow Citronella
Planting citronella should be done rightly, it can grow well and you can get the benefits. For more detailed step by step, bellow here is the tutorial about how to grow citronella plant and care citronella (mosquito plant geranium).
Things You Will Need planting Citronella
- Planting pot
- Potting soil
- Slow-release flower fertilizer
- Organic compost 5-10-5 fertilizer
Pot Planting Citronella
- Pick a pot which is at 8 to 12 inch in diameter and also height, that has bottom holes designed for drainage.
- Fill up the pot approximately one-half full by using a good quality potting soil. It will provide the plant with nutrition and good draining properties to avoid root rot. Ideally, use a potting soil with a fertilizer included in the mix or maybe add a slow-release garden fertilizer into the soil just before planting, following the package guidelines for the size of container.
- Set the citronella plant in the pot therefore the top of the root ball is about 2 inch . from the top edge of the pot. Fill up soil around the root ball so it will be setting at the same depth when it was in the original container.
- Water the soil to compact it around the roots and get rid of air pockets. Continue to apply water to the soil to keep it consistently moist without having to be saturated.
- Placed the pot within an area that gets full sunlight or simply partial shade. Citronella geraniums should get at minimum 6 hours of direct sunlight for appropriate growth.
Garden Planting Citronella
- Pick a planting area that gets no less than six hours direct sunlight, ideally while in the morning hours.
- Work 2 inches of organic compost and then 5-10-5 slow-release fertilizer into your planting area using a shovel. Follow package instructions for the fertilizer depending on the total area of space.
- Dig a hole for the citronella which is same depth as the root ball and two times as wide. Placed the plant into hole therefore the top of the root ball reaches ground level. Fill up soil around the root ball to keep the plant in position. Space the plants 8 inches apart to avoid crowding.
- Water to compact the soil around the root ball and get rid of air pockets. Keep an eye on the soil moisture and then apply water to keep the soil consistently moist with out creating standing water. Avoid letting the soil dry to 1 inch below ground level.
Tips Planting Citronella
- Decide Where to Plant
There are 2 choices. First, you plant citronella at your garden. Second, you plant citronella in pots or other kinds of container. Decide it carefully because it affects how you will care it.
- Decide What to Plant
Now, you have to decide what kind of citronella you will plant. It means, you have to decide whether you will plant citronella from roots or from small plants. Commonly, people prefer planting citronella from rather than small citronella plants.
- Find the Best Citronella Plant or Root
After deciding 2 things above, it is your time to buy the citronella roots or small plants. You can buy it at a market or online depending on your desire.
- Prepare the Area
After you buy the citronella small plants or roots, you have to prepare the area where you will use to plant it. If you want to plant it at a garden, you have to dedicate the area for it. You have to make sure that the soil is fertile. If you want to plant it in pots or container, you have to prepare the pots or containers you will use. You also need to prepare the soil that you will put into the container.
- Plant It Rightly
This is the most important step in relation to how to grow and care citronella (mosquito plant geranium). Plant the roots for about 5 centimeters under the soil. The citronella is actually easy to grow. You can cut small parts of its stem and then plant it. Care for it rightly, and citronella can grow well.
6. Apply water into the soil around the geranium
Apply water into the soil around the geranium to avoid water damage to the foliage.
Pinch off yellow and also dead leaves to stimulate growth.
That is all the steps to plant citronella and a few tips when you planting citronella. Wherever you plant it, actually it does not matter as long as you care and maintain it rightly.
How to Care Citronella (Mosquito Plant Geranium)
Planting citronella is not difficult, isn’t it? However, you have to care for it rightly or it will not grow well or even die. For more detailed tutorial, here are steps by steps that you have to follow.
- Watering Citronella
Watering is needed in caring most kind of plants. It is the key in caring citronella. You have to water it rightly and regularly. For the best result, citronella should be watered every day. I suggest you to water citronella twice a day, every morning and afternoon. This care tip should be applied whether you plant citronella at your garden or in pots.
Watering should also be done rightly. You have to make sure that the water used is clean water. It means the water does not contain chemicals. So, you have to know the source of the water you will use for watering. You can water citronella with desired water. It means it does not matter whether you use little or much water because it does not danger citronella. In fact, citronella is a kind of plant that is easy to grow as long as it gets water every day.
- Fertilizing Citronella
The next tip how to plant, grow and care citronella (mosquito plant geranium) is fertilizing. Actually, fertilizing is an optional step. It means citronella can still grow even though you do not apply fertilizer. Fertilizing is needed when the soil at your garden is not fertile. Anyway, you can apply fertilizer in any condition. With fertilizer, the soil will be more fertile and the citronella you plant will be able to grow better and faster. Even more, it will be fresher and healthier. Considering the benefits, fertilizing is recommended so much for you who plant citronella.
There are many kinds of fertilizer. I suggest you to choose organic fertilizer because it is much safer. Even more, you can also make organic fertilizer by your own. Then, you should also know the right measurement in fertilizing. You cannot apply too little fertilizer because it will not affect the growing process. On the contrary, applying too much fertilizer will also be bad because it can danger the citronella. When your citronella faded, you have to apply fertilizer so it will be healthy and can grow well again.
- Cleaning the Area
Caring citronella should be done regularly from planting and during the growing process until you can harvest or pick it out. So, after a few weeks, the area around the citronella may be dirty. Or it may also be that there are many grasses grown in there. So, you have to keep the area clean. You should also cut the grasses around it so the grasses will not cause problems to the citronella.
In case you plant citronella in pot, you have to clean the pots first before it used. The grasses are also possible to grow in the pots. Clean area can make citronella grown well. There are many methods how to clean it. It depends on your desire as long as it does not danger the citronella and keeps everything clean.
- Cutting the Leaves
After a few weeks, the small plants of citronella may grow and the leaves will be longer. If you plant it in form of roots, the leaves may appear and grow longer and longer time after time. You cannot let and leave it. Sometimes, you need to cut it if the leaves are overcrowded. Overcrowded leaves will cause problem in growing process.
Usually, overcrowded leaves happen to you who plant too many citronella plants or roots in the same space. So, you have to consider the distance between one citronella to another. The distance from one citronella plant to another should be about at least one meter. If you plant citronella in pots or containers, you have to arrange the pots or containers tidily and not too close from one to another. The pots or containers used should not be too small. The pots or containers should have at least 50 centimeters of diameter.
- Giving the Sun Light
The next tip how to grow citronella plant and care citronella (mosquito plant geranium) relates to the sun light need. You cannot plant citronella in a covered area or room. Your garden should be able to get the sun light. You can place them in front of your house. So the sun light can expose citronella every day and it can grow well.
- Controlling Citronella
It may take a few months for the growing period. However, it does not matter because it may not be for business and you may not sell it again. It means commonly citronella is used for self purposes. Even though it is easy maintenance, citronella should be controlled every day. For example, you have to make sure that you protect the citronella so animals will keep away from it and will not cause problem to this plant.
That is all the caring tips and steps how to grow citronella plant and maintain citronella (mosquito plant geranium). With those tips above, you can plant citronella based on your desire.
How to Harvest Citronella
Citronella will grow and the leaves will be longer. You have to know how long the growing period is. Actually it is different because it depends on various factors such as the care, the health, etc. However, commonly it takes about 6 months. It may be shorter but may also be longer. So, you have to be patient and care for it well.
After it is ready to harvest, you can harvest it by your own. There are some tips how to harvest it. Here are the tips that you have to follow:
- Wear Gloves and Shoes
Firstly, you have to pay attention to your safety. In this case, I advise you to wear gloves and shoes. You should also consider wearing pants that can protect your legs wholly. Besides protecting from the citronella itself, also protects you from animals biting around your garden.
- Use a Sharp Knife
To cut the leaves of citronella, it will be a good idea to use a knife. You have to make sure that the knife is sharp so you can cut the leaves easily.
- Cut It Rightly
If everything is prepared well, now you are ready to cut the leaves of citronella. In this step, you have to pay attention how long you cut the leaves. You should cut for about 5 centimeters above the stem of citronella.
- Harvest It Regularly
As it is mentioned before, we may need to wait for about 6 months for the first harvest. How about the next harvest? It commonly needs for about 3 months as long as you care for it well. The season may also affect the growing process and harvest.
That is all the steps how to harvest citronella (mosquito plant geranium). It is very easy, isn’t it? Everyone can do it easily.
What to Do with Citronella
After you harvest or pick citronella, what you have to do with it? There are many options for you. It depends on your purposes. Here are some ideas that you can do with citronella.
- Apply Citronella to Add Flavors in Foods
Citronella is well known as a kitchen spice. It is commonly used to add flavors in various foods. With citronella, your cooks will be much more delicious. It also makes your foods much healthier because of the contents found in it. After knowing its benefits for foods, you should learn more about cooking with citronella.
What foods are usually cooked with citronella? One of the most common foods is soup. For example is chicken soup. It will be very tastier with citronella. Besides that, you can also add citronella onto various vegetables. Then, it will also be a good idea to apply citronella onto boiled fish. How to apply citronella to add flavors? You should not cut it into some pieces but you just need to bundle some sheets of citronella and apply it when cooking. It is very easy, isn’t it?
- Use Citronella to Make Drinks
Besides foods, you can also get the benefits of citronella for drinks. There are many drinks that are used with citronella even though it is juts for additional material. For example, citronella is often used for cocktail. It is also very great to be added into soda. And, you can also add it into lemon or orange drinks. There are also many people who use citronella to make ginger drinks. Even more, you can also make citronella drink. Whatever the drink you make, citronella has many benefits. It does not only add the aromatic and flavor but also make the drinks healthier.
- Distillate Citronella into Oil
You can also process citronella to be oil. In this case, you have to distillate it. Then, you can use the citronella oil for massage. Juts apply the citronella oil on the skin that you want to massage. Apply it evenly and then massage the skin smoothly. It will be very comfortable. It is believed that citronella oil can make people feel fresh because of the smell and special value. That is why there are many massagers who always prepare citronella oil. Even more, we can also find so many products of citronella oil sold in the market today.
Still related to the citronella oil, you can also use it for other purposes. One of them is to keep away from insects. In this case, the most popular is for mosquito. People who plant and grow citronella at home will be kept away from mosquito. Even more, you can also use its oil to make keep mosquito away by spraying it. It has been discussed before so we do not need to talk about it longer. Whatever the purpose you want, citronella oil is very useful and offers various benefits.
- Store in a Refrigerator before You Use It Later
You may also don’t want to process or use all citronella that you harvest. You cannot throw it away because you can use it later. In this case, you need to store it. However, storing citronella should be done rightly and carefully so it will not get faded.
The key how to store citronella is that you cannot store it in a hot area. It means that you have to store it in a cool area even cold area. Here is my advice. Firstly, you should clean citronella using running water. After that, wrap using plastic bag. Then, store it in a refrigerator. You don’t need to store in the freezer but you have to make sure that the refrigerator is set with cold temperature. The cold temperature can make citronella last longer. So, you can use or process it anytime you want later.
How to Use Citronella
After knowing how to grow citronella plant and care citronella (mosquito plant geranium), now we will discuss how to use it. How to use citronella depends on the purpose. In this case, we will focus on how to use citronella to keep away from insects especially mosquito.
We usually keep away mosquito using mosquito essence products sold in the market. However, the price is not cheap so you need to spend much money for it. Besides that, you have also to know that mosquito essence products contain dangerous properties that can cause many problems for your health whether it is mosquito essence lotion, spray, burnt, etc. So, you have to find the safe way how to keep away from mosquito. In this case, citronella can be a good alternative. Here is how to use it:
- Burning Citronella
Citronella can be used to keep away from mosquito not only from the oil but also the leaves. In this idea, you can use citronella as an alternative of burnt mosquito essence. Juts burn the leaves of citronella using a candle and let the smoke spread away into all the space of your home interior. The smell will make the mosquitoes go far away.
- Spraying Citronella
This is the most popular way how to use citronella. Firstly, you have to prepare a blender. Then, put some leaves of citronella into the blender. After that, add a quarter cup of water into the blender. Now, you can blend it for a few minutes until the citronella leaves are blended wholly. You cannot use it directly because you have to leave it for about 12 hours. After 12 hours, you should filter it and pour into a sprayer bottle. Now, you can spray it in your house. For example, you can spray it to your living room, bedroom, bathroom, etc.
- Mop the Floor Using Citronella Oil and Water
It can also be one of the ways how to keep away mosquito using citronella. In this idea, what you have to do is to prepare a bucket filled with water. Then, apply a few drops of citronella oil. Then, you can mop the floor in your house using it. Make sure that you can reach the floor evenly so your floor can produce citronella smell. With this idea, your house will be free from mosquito.
4. Apply Citronella Oil on Your Skin
As it is mentioned before, citronella can also be used for lotion. You can also follow this idea. However, you need to distillate citronella first and use the oil for lotion. It will be better if you add water. Then, you can apply the citronella oil added with water on your hand, legs, neck, back, stomach, etc. However, you have to be careful because it may cause irritation especially for you who have sensitive skin. If irritation happens, you have to stop using it for lotion.
5. Mix with Other Oils
If needed, you can also mix citronella oil with other kinds of oil to make it more effective to keep away from mosquito. For example, you can mix it with neem oil. Besides that, you can also consider mixing citronella with rosemary oil. Then, it will also be a good idea to mix it with cajeput oil. After mixing citronella oil with one of those oils above, you can apply it onto your skin. It is also very good to massage your skin. It will not only make your skin kept away from mosquito but your skin will also be tighter and healthier.
6. Mix with Water
Still related to citronella oil, you can also mix it with water. However, this idea does not require you to apply it onto your skin. So, if you have sensitive skin, you can prefer this. In this idea, you have to apply a few drops of citronella oil into a bucket filled with water. Then, place the bucket in the area that you can often find mosquito. You may need more than one bucket because there may be more than one area you will apply. This idea is also very easy and simple to follow.
That is all how to use citronella. If you follow them rightly, it will be very effective to keep away from mosquito or even other insects. If you are interested in it, you should plant citronella at home. We have discussed about how to grow citronella plant and care citronella (mosquito plant geranium) clearly. Now, it is your time to follow it.
Description: How to grow citronella plant and care citronella (mosquito plant geranium) can be done easily. However, you have to know other tips including how to choose, harvest, and use citronella.