Types of citronella

This plant, so well known for being the best natural repellent against insistent mosquitoes, is sometimes confused with other species due to its particular lemon aroma. Hence, many wonder, what is the true citronella plant? The answer to this question is that we know as citronella all plants belonging to the genus Cymbopogon. Hence, we leave out other species such as the well-known Pelargonium Citrodorum , also popularly called citronella geranium , which, obviously, is also widely used not only as an anti-mosquito but for its rich aroma. Join us in this ReadBiology article to learn about the different types of citronella to learn about their care and uses.


citronella taxonomy

Like the rest of the plants, citronella belongs to the Plantae kingdom , specifically to the Poales order. This is where the Poaceae family is found and within it we find the genus Cymbopogon to which all types of citronella belong. In addition, it should be noted that although some commonly know lemon balm as false citronella, it should be known that both species do not belong to the same taxon, even though they are all characterized by that particular citrus aroma.

The plants belonging to the Cymbopogon genus are native to Southeast Asia and have in common that they are perennial herbaceous plants with a characteristic intense green color, as well as their lemon aroma , as we have already mentioned. In addition, they can reach a meter in height.

Cymbopogon nardus

Cymbopogon nardus or Ceylon lemongrass is considered by many to be the true citronella plant , perhaps because it is one of the most widely used species for its essential oil. Thanks to its large creeping rhizome, this herbaceous perennial and very tussock can reach over a meter in length. Its apex is glaucous green and it presents its flowers in compact inflorescences. They reproduce both by division and by seeds.

Cymbopogon Winterianus

Also known as Java citronella, it is, along with Cymbopogon nardus, the most widely used anti- mosquito citronella plant due to its high concentration of essential oils . In this other post you can learn more Home remedies for mosquitoes .

As with the rest of the plants within the genus, it is a perennial aromatic herbaceous that is characterized by forming clumps due to its rhizome, much shorter than in the case of Cymbopogon nardus. Here you can learn more about Rhizomes: definition and examples of plants .

In the same way, it is capable of exceeding 2 meters in height and has narrow, lanceolate leaves, but with a characteristic reddish outline.

Cymbopogon Citratus

Citronella Citronella is a perennial herb with a short, aromatic rhizome. It has erect stems of up to 2 m and with very blooming nodes. In addition, its leaves are alternate, flat, with a scabrid margin, acute apex, narrow base, striated sheath, glabrous and auriculate.

Its inflorescences, that is, its groups of flowers are cluster-shaped and pendulous, between 30 and 50 cm. Its spikelet is sessile, muticous and with a concave back.

Cymbopogon Martini

This herbaceous plant from South Asia and belonging to the genus Cymbopogon is popularly known as palmarosa . It is also recognized for its rose-scented essential oil and is capable of passing a meter in height. In addition, it is characterized by its small reddish inflorescences. Its best method of reproduction is through seeds, which you can grow throughout the year. As for its care, we recommend that you place it in a place where it receives direct sunlight, as long as temperatures do not exceed 30 ºC.

Cymbopogon Flexuosus

As with most plants belonging to the cymbopogon genus, it has a pleasant lemon aroma capable of repelling mosquitoes. The Cymbopogn flexuosus has elongated green and sharp leaves, typical of grasses . You can grow it both in the garden soil and in a pot.

Cymbopogon Bombycinus

This herbaceous plant is native to Australia and is characterized by silky hairs on its leaves. Also, unlike most citronella, it is not used as a mosquito repellant. Its medicinal use focuses on combating pain thanks to its essential oil or burning it to inhale its aroma to improve colds .

Cymbopogon Schoenanthus

As in the previous case, this type of Cymbopogon is not used as a mosquito repellent but to combat bacteria and fungi . This plant is native to Saudi Arabia, so it tolerates high temperatures and does not need too much watering as it is typical of desert landscapes.

Cymbopogon Obtectus

Finally, this type of citronella is used to help improve soil conditions and thus create a more suitable ecosystem for other plants. Its use to repopulate affected areas thanks to its resistance to extreme climates makes this species a perfect ally against desertification . It is also characterized by having silky whitish hairs.

What is it for and care of citronella

Citronella oil is used not only to combat annoying mosquitoes and other insects , but it is also used as a condiment and for its medicinal properties, as we have explained in each of the previous cases. In addition, this plant’s fresh leaves are used as an air freshener and anti-mosquito and there is also the option of citronella-scented candles for the same.

Therefore, we can say that the basic care of citronella are:

  • It needs to be located in a place where it receives direct sunlight.
  • It must have a well-drained substrate to prevent the roots from rotting due to moisture.
  • It requires moderate watering, especially during the summer when you must prune.
  • It will improve its growth and appearance if you use organic matter to fertilize it.

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