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 scent. Hence, many wonders, what is the real 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, is also widely used not only as an anti-mosquito but also for its rich aroma. Join us in this article of TheGardenStyle to know the different types of citronella plants to learn their care and uses.
Taxonomy of Citronella Plants
Like all other plants, citronella plants belong to the kingdom Plantae, specifically to the order Poales. It is here where the Poaceae family is found and within it, we find the genus Cymbopogon to which all types of citronella plants belong. In addition, it should be noted that although some people 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 scent.
The plants belonging to the genus Cymbopogon are native to Southeast Asia and have in common being herbaceous perennial plants with a characteristic intense green color, as well as their lemon scent, as we have already mentioned. In addition, they can reach up to one meter in height.
Many consider Cymbopogon nardus or Ceylon lemongrass as the true citronella plant, perhaps because it is one of the most widely used species for its essential oil. This herbaceous perennial and very cespitose thanks to its large creeping rhizome can reach up to one meter in length. Its apex is glaucous green and its flowers are in compact inflorescences. They reproduce both by division and by seeds.
Types of Citronella Plants – Cymbopogon Winterianus
Also known as Java citronella is, together with Cymbopogon nardus, the most used anti-mosquito citronella plant due to its high concentration of essential oils.
As with the rest of the plants within the genus, it is an aromatic herbaceous perennial that is characterized by forming clumps due to its rhizome, much shorter than in the case of Cymbopogon nardus.
Similarly, it can exceed 6.5 ft (2 meters) in altitude and has lanceolate and narrow leaves, but with a characteristic reddish outline.
Citronella citratus is a perennial herb with a short, aromatic rhizome. It has erect stems up to 6.5 ft (2 m) long and with knots with a lot of pruina. In addition, its leaves are alternate, flat, with a scabrous margin, acute apex, narrow base, striated sheath, glabrous and auriculate.
Its inflorescences, i.e., its flower clusters are cluster-shaped and pendulous, between 12″ and 20″ (30 and 50 cm) long. Its spikelet is sessile, mutic, and with a concave back. Learn more about how to propagate Cymbopogon Citratus.
Types of Citronella Plants – Cymbopogon Martini
This herbaceous plant from South Asia and belonging to the genus Cymbopogon is popularly known as palmarosa. It is also known for its rose-scented essential oil and is capable of reaching over one meter in height. In addition, it is characterized by its small reddish inflorescences. Its best method of reproduction is by seed, 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 86 °F (30 ºC).
As is the case with most of the plants belonging to the genus cymbopogon, it has a pleasant lemon scent capable of repelling mosquitoes. Cymbopogn flexuosus has elongated, sharp, green leaves, typical of grasses. It can be grown either in the garden soil or in pots.
Types of Citronella Plants – Cymbopogon Bombycinus
This herbaceous plant is native to Australia and is characterized by silky hairs on its leaves. In addition, unlike most citronella plants, it is not used as a mosquito repellent. Its medicinal use is focused on combating pain thanks to its essential oil or burning it to inhale its aroma to improve colds.
As in the previous case, this type of Cymbopogon is not used as a mosquito repellent but to fight bacteria and fungi. This plant is native to Saudi Arabia, so it tolerates high temperatures and does not need much watering as it is typical of desert areas.
Types of Citronella Plants – 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 damaged areas thanks to its resistance to extreme climates makes this species a perfect ally against desertification. It is also characterized by its silky whitish hairs.
What Is Citronella Oil Used for And Care of Citronella Oil
Citronella oil (Order here) is used not only to fight annoying mosquitoes and other insects but is also used as a condiment and for its medicinal properties, as we have explained in each of the above cases. In addition, from this plant, its 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 is:
- To be located in a place where it receives direct sunlight.
- Having a well-drained substrate to prevent the roots from rotting due to humidity.
- Moderate watering, especially during the summer when pruning should be done.
- Its growth and appearance will improve if you use organic matter to fertilize it.
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We hope you found this article about the different types of citronella plants useful.