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Home » Indoor Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus): Plant Care and Growing Guide – House Plants Expert

Indoor Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus): Plant Care and Growing Guide – House Plants Expert

by Elyssa Goins
This article was fact checked.
Helpful: 100%

Citronella plants are well-known for their ability to repel mosquitoes, which is why they are also known as “Mosquito Plant Citronella.” If you want an indoor citronella plant in your collection, you’ll need to know how to care for it properly. This article will cover everything you need to know about citronella plant care indoors. Check out our other Care Guides for edible herbs like Coriander Guide, Rosemary Guide, Basil Guide, and Chive Guide.


Are Citronella Plants Perennials?

Yes, citronella plants are perennials. They are hardy and durable, able to survive through the winter and reemerge in the spring. This means they will come back year after year, making them a long-lasting addition to any indoor collection. By providing them with proper care, including bright, indirect light, well-draining soil, and regular watering and fertilizing, you can ensure that your citronella plant will continue to thrive for many years. 

Other Plants

Types of Citronella Plants

There are several types of citronella plants, but the most commonly known and used one is Cymbopogon nardus, also known as the “Citronella Mosquito Plant.” This plant is native to tropical Asia and has long, green leaves and spikes of pink or purple flowers. Another popular species is Cymbopogon winterianus, commonly known as “Java Citronella.” It’s important to know that not all citronella plants have the same care needs, so it’s essential to know what type of plant you have before you start caring for it.

Citronella on a Plants
Cymbopogon winterianus

How to Care for Citronella Plant?

Caring for a citronella plant is relatively easy. It requires providing bright, indirect light, keeping the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, fertilizing once a month during the growing season, regularly pruning to maintain shape, and propagating from cuttings if desired. 

The Differences Between Citronella Plants

Most people are perplexed by citronella. This is due to the fact that there are two types of Citronella plants. The true Citronella is a tropical grass known as Cymbopogon nardus. This is because it contains essential oil.

Several Plants

Grow several plants where you want to deter insects for maximum effectiveness. You can grow whatever variety appeals to you! The scented geranium is more popular and influential in repelling mosquitoes. They both have few requirements and are simple to use.


Citronella plants need bright, indirect light to thrive indoors. They will do well near a south-facing window or under a grow light. If you place your plant in direct sunlight, the leaves will start to yellow, and the plant will become stressed. On the other hand, if the plant doesn’t receive enough light, it will become leggy and weak.


Citronella plants like to be kept consistently moist but not waterlogged. It’s essential to let the soil dry out slightly between waterings, but only a little, or the leaves will start to droop. To ensure that your plant gets the right amount of water, stick your finger in the soil and feel for moisture. If the top inch of soil is dry, it’s time to water.


Citronella plants need well-draining soil to prevent water from pooling at the roots. You can use a standard potting soil or create your own by mixing equal parts of perlite, peat moss, and sand. The soil should be kept slightly moist but not too soggy.


Citronella plants don’t require much fertilizer to thrive, but they will benefit from a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once a month during the growing season (spring to fall). During the winter, it’s best to reduce fertilization to once every two to three months, as the plant is dormant.


Citronella plants must be regularly pruned to maintain their shape and encourage new growth. Cut back any yellow or dead leaves, as well as any leggy or spindly growth. Pruning will also help to promote bushier growth and encourage the production of more leaves.


Citronella plants are easily propagated from cuttings. To do this, take a 4-inch cutting from the tip of a stem and remove the lower leaves. Dip the cutting in the rooting hormone, then plant it in a well-draining potting mix. Keep the cutting moist and in bright, indirect light until it has rooted and started to produce new growth. 

Citronella Plant Seeds

Citronella plant seeds can be an excellent option for starting your own indoor citronella plant from scratch. They are readily available from various sources, including online retailers and gardening centers. Starting citronella plants from seed can be a slow process, as it can take several weeks for the seeds to germinate and several months for the young plants to reach maturity. So, it is important to follow the proper germination and care instructions to ensure the successful growth of the seedling into a mature, healthy citronella plant. However, starting your own citronella plant from seed can be a fun and rewarding experience for gardening enthusiasts.

Plant Seed

Benefits of Citronella

Citronella plants have some benefits that make them a popular choice for indoor and outdoor gardening. Perhaps most notably, citronella plants are known for their ability to repel mosquitoes, making them a popular choice for outdoor patios and decks. In addition to their mosquito-repelling qualities, citronella plants are also attractive and low-maintenance, making them an excellent choice for indoor gardens and houseplants. 

Citronella Plant Facts

The oil from citronella plants is commonly used in candles, sprays, and other products to repel mosquitoes or insects such as flies and ticks. Citronella plants are members of the lemongrass family. The name “citronella” comes from the Italian word “citronella”, meaning “lemon balm.” Citronella plants can grow up to six feet tall in the right conditions. The leaves of the citronella plant release a strong, lemon-like scent when crushed. Citronella plants have been used for centuries for their medicinal properties and as natural insect repellent. The essential oil of the citronella plant is commonly used in aromatherapy and is said to have calming and relaxing effects.

In some countries, citronella is used in cooking and is said to have a lemon-grass flavor. Citronella plants are often grown as annuals in areas with cold winters. In the right conditions, citronella plants can flower several times a year. The pink or purple flowers of the citronella plant are highly fragrant and attractive to pollinators.


Citronella plants are a great addition to any indoor collection, not only for their ability to repel mosquitoes but also for their attractive appearance. Proper care is essential to keep your plant healthy and thriving. 

Remember to provide bright, indirect light, keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, fertilize once a month during the growing season, regularly prune to maintain shape, and propagate from cuttings if desired. 

With proper care, your citronella plant will regularly prune and be a functional addition to your indoor space for years to come. By following the tips outlined in this article, you’ll be able to successfully care for your citronella plant indoors.

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