Must Know Facts about the Citronella Plant
The Citronella plant is a popular addition to many gardens both for its pretty lavender flowers and for its ability to repel mosquitoes and other insects. It is known sometimes as the Mosquito Plant and as the Deodorizer Plant. This plant can be grown in the garden as an annual or as a tender perennial in a container. The Citronella is fairly easy to spot whether it is in a porch, garden or flower bed because of its distinctive smell. Rubbing or crushing the leaves of the Citronella plant releases the smell and can be useful on a warm summer evening when you want to sit out without being bothered by bug bites.
If you are introducing this plant into your garden, the best time to plant the Citronella is in spring after there is no danger of a late spring frost. While it is considered a hardy plant, the Citronella is not frost tolerant and even well-established plant will die if made to face a frost. The plant is considered viable in USDA Zones 9A to 11.
Choose a location for your Citronella plant keeping in mind that it needs five to six hours of sunlight every day. Make a hole that is two times the size of the pot in which you get the Citronella. Give this plant about a foot or a foot and half of space from neighboring plants.
While the Citronella plant adapts to different kinds of soil, it needs an area with good drainage. You can plant the Citronella in the hole and use a combination of dirt and potting soil to cover the hole. It is recommended that you use three parts potting soil and one part dirt. Choosing an organic mix potting soil may be particularly beneficial. Potting mixes with synthetic ingredients may not be quite as effective. If you are using your natural ground soil, note that the Citronella plant does well in soils which are mildly acidic, neutral and mildly alkaline and this translates to pH levels 6.1 to 7.8.
The Citronella needs regular watering although you should watch out for dangers of over-watering. You may be able to rely on natural rain cycles depending on the climatic conditions of your region. Gardeners sometimes say that it is drought tolerant and can even be used in a xeriscape along with other dry weather plants.
As part of the maintenance of the plant, you will need to pinch and remove the citronella leaves when they turn yellow. Sometimes yellowing of the leaves is a sign that the plant is not getting adequate amounts of nitrogen and as this is a crucial nutrient for the Citronella plant, you should consider adding nitrogen-based plant food or fertilizer to the soil.
The plant has a striking appeal because of its flowers, foliage and fragrance. However, no part of the plant is to be consumed as it can be toxic. The Citronella Plant will bloom multiple times in the summer season.
If you have it outside in your garden, move the plant to a container and bring it indoors before the first signs of frost. If you want to propagate the Citronella plant you can do so from cutting and from seeds. If you decide to use seeds, let the seed heads dry out in the plant and then collect the seeds. Sow them indoors early in spring and then you can transplant the sapling later in spring or early summer.
Some problems to note with the Citronella Plant are that it does have a tendency to take over a garden and may need pruning if you live in a warm weather climate. If you do live in a colder region and plan to bring the plant in for over wintering be aware that the plant can be dangerous to pets and take all the necessary precautions.