How to Care for Citronella Plants in the Winter

Updated February 21, 2017

Often promoted as a citronella or mosquito plant, citronella-scented geraniums release intense fragrance when the leaves are disturbed. Although research has determined that the claims by commercial growers of this plant's amazing ability to repel mosquitoes are exaggerated, the scent may be a mild deterrent. What this plant lacks in insect repelling ability, it makes up for with its attractive lacy green foliage and burst of fresh citronella fragrance in the home.

Move plants inside in late summer when temperature begins to drop below 10 to 12.8 degrees Celsius at night.

Cut foliage back to 4 to 6 inches in height to force new growth and create a dense, compact houseplant.

Water until water runs free from the bottom of the pot.

Place your citronella plants in a cool section of your home for several days to acclimate it to inside conditions; an area that remains between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.

Move the plants to a sunny southern or western window.

Apply water-soluble fertiliser when new growth appears, following the application rate on the container. Withhold fertiliser during the winter months when growth slows. Resume fertilising once a month when lush growth appears in early spring or late winter.

Water when the soil dries to the touch. Remove any water that collects in the saucer and discard it. How often your citronella plant needs water depends on the inside temperature and its rate of growth. Watch for signs of wilting and check the soil often to determine a good watering routine.

Pinch out new leaves if the plant becomes spindly and leggy. Move it to an area with more light.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden clippers
  • Water-soluble fertiliser
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About the Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.