Citronella grass is an aromatic evergreen perennial native to Sri Lanka but common in most of the warm-temperate, subtropical and tropical regions of Asia and Africa. In colder climates, citronella is grown annually and brought indoors in winter. It is closely related to lemongrass. When the optimal conditions for cultivation are met, the citronella grass plant will produce flower panicles on spines borne on long flower stalks that protrude up to 6 ft from the center of the plant. These flowers will self-sow easily, but require consistent temperatures between 20-22 C to germinate. The seeds are light brown, dry and typical of grasses/grains. Plants grown in colder climates are less likely to produce viable flowers.
Plants will naturally proliferate through creeping underground rhizomes and can become somewhat invasive in their natural tropical climate with its habit of vigorous growth, competing with existing flora and cultivated crops.
Planting Citronella Plant
Citronella can be planted year-round if grown in tropical, subtropical or warm temperate climates. As vigorous growers, mosquito plants do not take long to establish themselves. In colder climates, wait until after spring to early summer for planting in the garden. Choose a location in full sun with some partial shade on the hottest part of the day. The leaves can be easily burned and look hideous. Citronella grass is adaptable to most soil types, but the mosquito plant prefers moist clay-based soil that drains well.
Growing mosquito plants from seeds is not recommended because germination can be capricious. Its vigorous growth and rhizome roots make it an excellent candidate for reproduction from Division. Citronella grass is perfect for growing as container plants as it allows you to move plants to a variety of locations to suit your needs. of containers outweigh smaller containers or simply divide the plant and replant one part in the same container and share the others with fellow gardeners. Growing containers is a good option for colder areas because it allows your plant to be easily moved indoors in winter to protect them from Frost.
Sun and temperature
Citronella is primarily a subtropical grass with a preference for full sun (at least six hours) and warm temperatures. In very hot climates, shade or filtered sunlight during the hottest time of the day to prevent the leaves from burning, make sure it receives at least six hours of sunlight. Do not let the tropical origin of this plant postpone you if you are north of the equator! Resistant to USDA zones 10-12, the citronella plant can tolerate temperatures up to 32 CENTIF (0 CENTIFC), but will not tolerate prolonged periods of frost. Bring citronella grass indoors in large pots when the first frost is foreseen.
Water and humidity
Provide long deep drinks when the soil begins to dry out, or provide irrigation through soaking / drip hoses to keep the moisture consistent. Citronella grass prefers constantly moist soil, but surprisingly can tolerate long periods of drought. Reduce watering in the winter months, but check regularly to make sure the plants are not completely dehydrated, especially those grown in containers. A soaking hose or other form of drip irrigation at the base of the plant can be used to help water the garden.