Many people use citronella plant as a natural insect repellent. Some even plant it next to their patio or rely on citronella candles to keep mosquitoes away.
But does it actually work? Despite what some gardeners believe, research shows that citronella plants aren’t effective in deterring mosquitoes.
The citronella plant (Pelargonium graveolens) has a distinctive, citrusy smell that many people enjoy. It’s a great addition to patio pots or window boxes in spring and early summer.
The leaves and flowers of this pelargonium have an uplifting scent that is often used in aromatherapy. It’s also known to relieve intestinal, kidney, and respiratory problems, as well as rheumatism, fevers, and other health conditions.
It can also be dried for use in potpourri, and the stems are a beautiful addition to floral arrangements. Citronella plants are easy to grow and require little care once planted in the ground.
If you live in a cooler climate, you can overwinter your citronella plant by layering it with a small pelargonium. Just be sure to keep it well-watered over the winter, as the soil can dry out and become hard if left in too long without water.
Another way to protect your citronella plant is by providing it with afternoon shade during the hottest part of the day. This will prevent the leaves from being scorched by sun heat, which can affect the plants’ ability to photosynthesize.
Once your citronella plant has matured, you can cut it back in late summer to harvest the oil that forms from its flowers and leaves. This oil has antifungal properties and can help to reduce odors in the air.
Citronella is a safe, natural insect repellent that can be found in a variety of products from candles to oils to shampoo. You can even find citronella in some sunscreen for babies, and you’ll often see it paired with other ingredients like lemongrass to make an effective insect deterrent.
In addition to its mosquito-repelling properties, citronella has been used as a fragrance for centuries. Its smell is known to induce feelings of freshness, happiness, and hope.
Its oil has been used in perfumes, soaps, and potpourri for years. It can be diluted with other essential oils to create a variety of different products, including lotions and sprays.
While citronella is an effective insect repellent, it does not last as long as chemically derived versions, such as DEET. It’s important to remember that you will need to reapply it throughout the day to ensure that the bugs are gone.
Citronella oil is a type of essential oil that’s produced from several species of Cymbopogon grasses. They grow wild or are cultivated in tropical regions of Asia, South America, and the Caribbean.
The main component of citronella oil is geraniol, which has strong insecticidal activity. It also has bacteriostatic and antifungal properties.
In addition, citronella oil is a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent free radical damage to the body’s cells. This property is important for keeping the immune system healthy.
Various studies have been conducted to determine the composition and antimicrobial activity of citronella oils. These studies were carried out to examine the effectiveness of citronella oils against different types of bacterial and fungal strains.
Some studies have found that citronella oil has high levels of phenolic compounds, which are characterized by their large number of hydrogen donor groups (H2O). These phenolic compounds also have many antioxidant properties because they can protect the body against free radicals.
Another study showed that citronella oil has good antimicrobial activities against some bacteria. It was able to inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli.
A third study found that citronella oil had significant fungicidal activity against the spore-forming fungi Candida albicans and C. nardus.
Moreover, it was determined that citronella oil inhibited the growth of both fungi at the same dose. It was also found that the MIC of the essential oil against the fungi was 112 mg/L.
The study revealed that the main components of citronella oil were geraniol, citronellol, and limonene. The geraniol and citronellol were found to be the most active components against the fungal species. They were able to completely inhibit the growth of all tested fungal strains. This resulted in a significant reduction in the total number of fungi on the test plate.
The insect repellent properties of citronella plant are based on the vapour toxicity of some of its compounds. It also works by inhibiting the mosquito’s ability to recognize human odor. Mosquitos and ticks use heat, movement and visual cues to identify potential hosts, but their main attraction is a person’s odor and the carbon dioxide that we exhale.
Many insect repellents contain DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), a chemical that can be found in some personal care products. It has been found to deter mosquitoes, chiggers, and ticks for up to 12 hours. It is a good choice for people who are sensitive to chemicals or who live in areas with high mosquito populations.
Insect repellents should be applied to exposed skin or clothing at least 30 minutes before you go outside and reapplied every 30 to 60 minutes as needed, according to the product’s label. In addition, it is important to apply the repellent on a small area of clothing first and test it on the back of your neck and other parts of your body where you will be most likely to be bitten.
Another option is the natural chemical called PMD that is found in eucalyptus, lemon eucalyptus, and neem oils. The compound has been shown to be as effective as low concentrations of DEET in both laboratory and field studies.
Unlike some other plant-derived compounds, PMD has no harmful effects on mammals and does not cause contact dermatitis or allergic reactions to the skin. It has been found to be an effective and safe alternative to DEET, allowing local production in malaria endemic regions and avoiding the high costs associated with importation of these compounds.
Citronella is a member of the mint family that contains several essential oils, which can be used to produce fragrances or as repellents. It is a commonly used insect repellent throughout the world.
Some commercially available mosquito repellents include oil of citronella, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and pennyroyal. However, these essential oils are volatile and tend to wear off quickly, limiting their longevity as mosquito repellents.
The EPA’s search tool can help you find the right repellent for your specific needs and location. It will list registered repellents by protection time, active ingredient, and other product-specific information.
For centuries, humans have used plants and natural repellents like citronella to keep mosquitoes away from homes and families. People hang dried leaves and branches from rafters, burn them in fires and rub them onto clothes and skin to keep them tame.
Despite the popularity of these methods, modern research indicates that they aren’t the most effective way to protect against mosquitoes. Instead of relying on plants, researchers recommend using insect repellents made with a combination of chemicals.
Citronella plants can be grown indoors, but they’re best outdoors when the soil is at a consistent temperature and there are no pests or diseases to deal with. Make sure your plants get ample sunlight and aren’t overwatered.
When planting a new citronella plant, dig a hole that’s slightly bigger than the plant’s root ball and about 1 foot wide. If your citronella is root-bound, ease it out gently before placing the entire plant in its new hole.
Water your citronellas only if the soil looks dry or the plant seems to need it. Citronellas don’t need a lot of water, but they do like a rich soil and premium plant food. Use a water-soluble, micronutrient-enriched fertilizer once or twice a week from spring through autumn.
You can also give your citronella plants a spray of essential oil to make them even more effective. A few drops of lemongrass or kaffir lime oils added to witch hazel or another distilled alcohol can create a pleasant smelling citronella spray that will keep mosquitoes away for hours on end.
While citronellas don’t tend to be bothered by pests or disease, they do need regular watering. If you live in a humid climate, you’ll want to avoid excessive watering, which can cause brown leaves and stems.
When you do water your citronella, use a watering can and fill it until it’s at least 2 inches deep. This ensures that the top inch of soil doesn’t dry out, and the water won’t pool in the bottom.
If you’re growing a flowering citronella, don’t forget to fertilize it every few weeks with a 10-10-10 formula at the recommended rate. In addition, you should feed your potted citronellas with a water-soluble, micronutrient-enriched plant food like Miracle-Gro(r) Performance Organics(r) Edibles Plant Nutrition once or twice a week from spring through fall.