Citrosa Geranium, Mosquito Plant, Deodorizer Plant, Citronella Plant

Pelargonium citrosum

Family: Geraniaceae (jer-ay-nee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Pelargonium (pe-lar-GO-nee-um) (Info)
Species: citrosum (SIT-roh-sum) (Info)
» View all varieties of Pelargoniums
View this plant in a garden



Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


12-15 in. (30-38 cm)


USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Blooms repeatedly

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From herbaceous stem cuttings

Allow cut surface to callous over before planting

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

By serpentine layering

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Meridianville, Alabama

Mobile, Alabama

Orange Beach, Alabama

Clarksville, Arkansas

Little Rock, Arkansas

Morrilton, Arkansas

Amesti, California

Brea, California

COARSEGOLD, California

Castro Valley, California

Corralitos, California

Elk Grove, California

Elkhorn, California

Interlaken, California

Pajaro, California

Sacramento, California

San Anselmo, California

San Diego, California

Seaside, California

Solana Beach, California

Stockton, California

Valley Center, California

Watsonville, California

Yosemite Lakes, California

Big Pine Key, Florida

Brandon, Florida

Glen Saint Mary, Florida

Hialeah, Florida

Hollywood, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Keystone Heights, Florida

Melbourne, Florida

Naples, Florida

Pompano Beach, Florida(2 reports)

Rockledge, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Seminole, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida

Zephyrhills, Florida

Buford, Georgia

Mableton, Georgia

Tifton, Georgia

Honolulu, Hawaii

Kailua, Hawaii

Kaneohe Station, Hawaii

Kihei, Hawaii

Maunawili, Hawaii

Chicago, Illinois

Jacksonville, Illinois

Michigan City, Indiana

Wichita, Kansas

Barbourville, Kentucky

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Hyannis, Massachusetts

Quincy, Massachusetts

Garden City, Michigan

Hopkins, Minnesota

Canton, Mississippi

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

ST THOMAS, Mississippi

Scotch Plains, New Jersey

Binghamton, New York

Bronx, New York

New York City, New York

Utica, New York

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Vale, North Carolina

Wake Forest, North Carolina

East Liverpool, Ohio

Lafayette, Ohio

Massillon, Ohio

Edmond, Oklahoma

Sand Springs, Oklahoma

Stilwell, Oklahoma

Beaufort, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

North Augusta, South Carolina

Swansea, South Carolina

Knoxville, Tennessee

Austin, Texas(3 reports)

Burleson, Texas

Conroe, Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas

Denton, Texas

Houston, Texas(3 reports)

Huntsville, Texas

La Marque, Texas

Paige, Texas

Round Rock, Texas

Rowlett, Texas

San Antonio, Texas(2 reports)

Santa Fe, Texas

St Thomas, Virgin Islands

Richmond, Virginia(2 reports)

Springfield, Virginia

Kalama, Washington

Eccles, West Virginia

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Casper, Wyoming

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Oct 6, 2019, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This plant is not the source of citronella oil, which is distilled from a couple of closely related species of grass: Cymbopogon nardus and Cymbopogon winterianus. The pelargonium smells similar and is named after the scent, but C winterianus is also commonly called citronella.


On Oct 21, 2016, djohn1996 from Zephyrhills, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I love the way these plants look and smell, even though I can't prove that I get fewer mosquito bites by using the leaves. From what I recall of the study that claims to disprove any mosquito repellant activity, it just found that mosquitoes continued biting test subjects who were only directed to sit near an undisturbed plant without even touching it. That makes no sense since the plant doesn't really emit its scent until the leaves are crushed. It's like concluding that DEET doesn't work because I can't keep mosquitoes away from my back deck by sitting a sealed can of Off! on a shelf in my garage. By the way, our plants grow very well in part shade with filtered sunlight, which eliminates all the leaf yellowing, wilting and drying out that others have mentioned in full sun.


On May 31, 2016, xplorer59 from Richmond, VA wrote:

I live in Richmond, Virginia- a mosquito haven- and I grow these plants every year. I'm not sure why some people say they don't repel mosquitos except that they may not be using it properly. I simply pick a few leaves, tear or crush them lightly and scatter them on the deck underneath the patio table. Within just a few minutes, the mosquitos completely leave the vicinity and we're able to enjoy eating outside. This is the most effective plant I've found and it allows me to not wipe DEET all over my arms, legs, neck, etc. I'll go as far as swearing for the benefits of this plant in keeping mosquitos (and other flying, biting insects) away from my deck. They're so popular that they sell out fast each year but I make sure to get at least two as soon as they're available.
They DO repel ... read more


On Sep 7, 2015, siege2055 from Stilwell, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

I just bought one of these, and I have to say its stinky but in a nice way. I had to roll the windows down on the way home because of the overpowering scent lol. Going to try to overwinter in my greenhouse along with a lot of other annuals that are actually perennials that I keep each year. I bought it just for the smell, but I am doubtful of it working very well with mosquitoes. The repelling nature along with that of lemon grass seems to be more from the confusion the odor creates for the mosquitoes sensory equipment rather than their dislike of it. Lemon grass does work but it has to be mashed up, or rubbed on the skin before it works for me, otherwise no smell, so I will probably use the Mosquito plant in the same way. Perhaps Mosquito plant will work better since it is stinky even wit... read more


On May 11, 2015, chocolatecat from New York City, NY wrote:

Hi all! i just have a quick question:

I have a cutting of a Citrosa Gernium, and i've had it in water for about 3 months. it's growing at a fast rate and consistently creates new leaves, but it's not rooting. I'd love to one day put it in soil, but i don't see it growing roots anytime soon.

Any tips?



On Oct 27, 2013, revid from port au port,
Canada wrote:

I have one of these plants all summer and now have it in doors cause I am in zone 5. It seems to be dying now(some lower leaves turning yellow) so I would like to propagate. Can I do this this time of year and what would be the best method. It seems like there are too many different opinions


On Feb 1, 2012, LolaMarigolda from Glen Saint Mary, FL wrote:

Mosquitoes tend to flock to me. I can pull off a few leaves, crush them and then rub them over my arms and legs and the bugs leave me alone. Depending on your location, best results are obtained via the method I described.

Finding one in this area is a major pain as they go fast, but we are now to the point that we are going to start some cuttings off the current plant (and get those into our greenhouse).


On Sep 22, 2011, dyzzypyxxy from Sarasota, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Such pretty foliage and a lovely scent, it's worth it even if it doesn't keep bugs away. But, I have had some success with rubbing the crushed leaves on my ankles and arms, then tuck the leaves in my hatband. I think you must crush the leaves to release enough citronella to keep bugs away.

This year my huge plant will produce enough cuttings to plant a whole border along the side of the screened pool - maybe that will deter the no-see-ums from coming through the screen.


On Jun 21, 2011, kristindarin from Wake Forest, NC wrote:

It was purchased this year to help my 2 kids from getting numerous bites. I placed it at their swing set and we have no bits. Waiting to cut parts to make new plants.


On Jun 17, 2011, XxMissMexX from Hopkins, MN wrote:

I bought one of these plants this spring and am happy to see that you can make cuttings for it, like spider plants. Also interesting were the ways to use it as a repellent - crushing the leaves, brewing a mix - as my daughter is unfortunately very reactive to mosquito bites and I hate spraying her down with chemicals. I will probably start some cuttings today!


On May 26, 2011, kotori83 from San Antonio, TX wrote:

I've grown citronella plants for years now. I don't rely on it to repel insects, I rely on it to smell simply divine. I live in San Antonio, so it grows very well in the heat of our summers, however during the winter they surely die unless brought inside. I grow my citronella in thoroughly cleaned 5 gallon paint buckets with coconut substrate (same stuff I use for all my reptiles)... and they love it, probably because coconut drains very well and its pH neutral.

About this plant and cats:
I can comment on its toxicity to felines however I know for a fact it does not repel them in any way whatsoever, I regularly find cats sleeping on my porch lying under the shade of the citronella plants.


On May 7, 2011, muttlover from Marysville, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

I try to buy this every year as an annual outside potted plant. It does not overwinter in IL unless you take it inside and I have cats who might eat this poisonous plant. I don't think it works as a deterrent to mosquitos (at least not my tough skeeters) but it's nice and vining and has interesting foliage and survives a shady porch. The only thing is - I have to buy it early from a plant nursery because it gets sold out around here really fast.


On May 6, 2011, erjeffery from Baton Rouge, LA (Zone 9b) wrote:

A tough plant, I have this in the ground beside my garage and carport in partial sun/shade. It endures dry ground and inattention well. It grows tall (2-3 ft.) and will fall over if not staked. I can't vouch for mosquito-repellant properties, but the smell is terrific and strong, with a slightly more bitter fragrance than lemon scented geraniums. Plant this where you sit outside in the evenings or when it rains - the scent alone is worth the effort.


On Jun 27, 2010, tcgch from Rowlett, TX wrote:

When I bought this plant it was big, healthy and smelled great. Now not so much. I have it planted outside by the pool. It gets sun until noon then shade the rest of the day. I water regular. Have other plants planted around it and they are doing fabulous. The Mosquito plant (citronella Plant) however has turned brown, leaves are falling off and looks very sick. Please help, I really want this plant to survive. It may or may not repell, but it smells really good. Any advise?


On Jun 26, 2010, bsimpson1972 from Chicago, IL (Zone 6a) wrote:

One of "Grandma's houseplants", that everyone should have! Give it lots of light, water and food and it will thrive. Pinching is essential, if you want a bushy plant. Stake it, if necessary. One of the easiest houseplants, one can have.


On Dec 4, 2009, gpr1 from Denton, TX wrote:

My vet advises this plant is poisonous to cats. I had hoped to over-winter my two huge citronella pot plants in her atrium-like waiting room, but she said, "Absolutely not, because it is poisonous to cats."


On Nov 18, 2009, mrs_colla from Marin, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I saw an old decrepid plant, ready to give up, and took a little piece of it and plunked it in the ground.
The thing grew like heck! I had to prune it so much, I finally gave it away. It grows too big in the ground.
But, it can live with not too much water, it blooms all summer and never gets sick or bugged.
If you have room for it, or the lust to prune several times a season, go ahead and plant it.


On May 29, 2009, angsaidso from Owego, NY wrote:

Just an FYI ... you can actually grow cutrtings from this plant by tossing them in a cup of water!! I have rooted numerous cuttings by clipping them off the stems of the plant at an angle and just tossing them in water. They take a while to get going, but once they go, they grow VERY long roots and take off in soil right away. :-) Easier than having them rot in a pot, but you have a longer wait. They also do not wilt up or lose leaves during this process either. :-)

As for mosquitoes, I don't know if it works or not. I was given this plant when it got too big for my neighbor to deal with. It is growing in a gallon pot inside (I live in NYS) and grows all year long. But I do let it dry out pretty good between waterings.

Peace ~ Ang


On Apr 16, 2009, Shweetie30 from Mableton, GA wrote:

Smells wonderful! Just purchased this plant today for the first time at a local plant sale. The lady who sold it to me said to use it in your sugar bowl. Put a couple of leaves in the sugar bowl, add some sugar, then another leaf or two, and keep layering it. Supposedly it will give a delightful flavor to your sugar!


On Feb 20, 2009, dimar7a from Quincy, MA wrote:

we love this plant.i,m not sure if it repels bugs,but it smells great. we have had this plant for 3 years now.I have cutting,s going in a vase now for spring. I also put cuttings in the garden during the summer,they do great. have never had a problem with them taking over.also does not flower very often,but the foliage and sent is why i grow them


On Feb 16, 2009, olesagegrouse from Casper, WY wrote:

I've had a citronella scented geranium (in a container) for eight years now, can readily testify to its virtues as an insect repellant. Fresh leaves, slightly macerated, have been placed on inside windowsills, kept mosquitos at bay even when leaves dried out. When working in the yard, I macerate leaves, rub them on arms and back of neck: flying, biting critters stay away!
Fire ants, when visiting Puerto Rico every winter, were AWFUL at times! One summer, I placed several citronella leaves in a small jar of cider vinegar, let it "brew" in hot sun for several weeks. Took it to P.R., would rub feet/ankles with it before going into "fire ant country", NEVER got bitten thereafter.
My plant's cut back to 5 inches in height every fall, cuttings started then in deep styrofoam cup... read more


On Feb 16, 2009, capejafreem from Hyannis, MA wrote:

I've grown this plant on my deck, on Cape Cod, for many years. I don't count on it to repel insects, but I do rely on it to offer a delightful refreshing scent as I brush past it. In the fall, I cut the plant back and root the cuttings. Mother and babies survive in a sunny window, so that by the following spring I have our new supply of fragrant and pretty plants to beautify our deck.


On Feb 16, 2009, joy112854 from Crestview, FL wrote:

Last Spring I bought two of these and two geraniums, as I live in hot and humid Florida where mosquitoes frequent. I placed one of the four in each corner of my 12 x 30 decks in pots. I didn't have any problems with the mosquitos as long as I stayed on the deck. As far as being hard to kill, that is not so, they grew really well all Spring and Summer, I did not get any blooms, just foilage. Come winter, they died. I will again buy four more to add to my deck this Spring/Summer again.


On Feb 15, 2009, steadycam3 from Houston Heights, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Today February 14, 2009 I saw these plants for sale at Wal-Mart here in Houston. Citronella geranium. Ive never grown them but used citronella oil as a child to repel mosquitoes so I was curious.


On Apr 24, 2008, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I'm growing this plant in sandy soil in mostly sun. In my climate, it has shown no sign of becoming invasive. In fact, it seems to be struggling a bit, but has returned again this spring and is currently flowering. I enjoy brushing up against the leaves and releasing the scent when I am in the area where it is planted. If you want it to repel mosquitoes, you probably need to stir up the odor by moving the plant around, or brushing against it, or crushing a few of the leaves (as was suggested above). That would help get the light citronella odor moving around in the air.



On Mar 28, 2008, vader_fan from Austin, TX wrote:

I love the scent. Mine don't grow well, they are pretty much the same size as when I bought them months ago. I'm sure it's user error as I am not the best gardner in the world. I do bring them in when I have guest over and "squish" them a little to bring out the scent then put them back outside... they are also effective at removing grease smells for seafood smells if you put them in the kitchen a couple of days.


On Nov 18, 2007, Kieferkk from La Marque, TX wrote:

I have had several of these plants, but none of them ever looked like the first one I bought. It had the shape of a small Christmas tree and it really smelled good. All of the other plants I got at large hardware stores,were called "Citrosa" as if someone had developed these plants themselves. They were more open than the first tightly packed plant that I had. I usuall take concentrated garlic caps to ward off mosquitos, but when I forget, I could always take a few leaves to rub on me, and they would go away. I have had some last outside in a 5gal bucket into the third year. I used cloning powder and gel to get new plants. A branch broke off so I stuck it in the pot and it took off. I think that lack of good care and getting root bound has caused my plants to die on me. I found t... read more


On May 27, 2007, eldn829 from Harrisburg, PA wrote:

This plant takes over if you don't keep on top of it. My suggestion is to keep it potted. You can't kill it...I've been trying for two years.


On Apr 14, 2007, NacMacFeegle from Springfield, VA (Zone 6b) wrote:

It's a great scented plant. The dried leaves go well in potpurri. As for its mosquito repelling nature- I think it highly depends on whether YOU are more appetizing to the mosquito than this plant is disgusting to the bug. Allow me to explain: I had one on the side table to my adirondack chair on my patio in VA. I could sit in the chair and get eaten alive as if the plant was invisible. When my parents were visiting my father sat there all day and not one bite. Mom says that at home the bugs go after him and not her- but clearly they prefer me to him. So yes, it REPELS mosquitos just like a watch repels water- doesn't mean you can wear the watch swimming ;-)


On Sep 23, 2006, Tnkmcclain from Tulsa, OK wrote:

I LOVE this plant. I will be the first to admit that, as for a mosquito repellent, it fails miserably. But I bought one 2 years ago, and it's lovely. I read that they are sometimes used as bonsai. I can see why. Mine is potted,and has lived outside in the Summer, and inside in the Winter. I am thrilled to finally find out about planting the cuttings. I would love them all over my house. They smell fresh and lemoney to me. Get past the "insect repellent", they are beautiful, aromatic house plants, or an interesting addition to your outside potted (I recommend potted) garden.


On Aug 18, 2006, soulbloom from Richmond, VA wrote:

I will give this plant a positive even though it doesn't work as advertised. Mosquitoes probably laughed at me when I proudly introduced them to my backyard. I've sat two large plants on both sides of me while I was sitting and a mosquito still landed on me. I don't feel too let down cus the mosquitoes around here don't really respond to much repellant unless its in excess. I do like the smell and shape of this plant however. Its strong and everyone always ask what it is when they see or smell it.


On Oct 20, 2004, Larabee from Houston, TX wrote:

Don't buy this plant to keep the mosquitos away, like I did. It won't work. I even got bitten up while I was potting this plant! I keep it by my back door but it really doesn't repel bugs at all.

That said, it's easy enough to care for and the leaves are unusual enough that they add interest to my container herb garden, so I won't get rid of it. But I wouldn't buy it again.


On Aug 24, 2004, rosiespics from Fairfax, VA wrote:

This is actually my sister's experience using the mosquito plant to drive away the bugs. My sister lives in Hong Kong and people mostly do not install screens for their windows.

Before my sister got the plant, she reported that "I would not have been able to sleep through the night in summer without the AC on and the windows closed because of the mosquitoes. Now I have no problem with sleeping with windows open."


On Jul 15, 2004, egstewart1 from Beaufort, SC wrote:

I purchased a small plant this year, so far it seems to be working to keep the giatn mosquito population down on my patio. The plant soes seem to be turning brown around the edges though so I moved to more shade and I will see how it does. I'm going to try a cutting and put pne on my front porch, will comment if and when I get results.


On Jul 8, 2004, CatskillKarma from West Kill, NY wrote:

I have never had any trouble finding this plant at nurseries here in the Catskills--perhaps because we have an incredible number of bugs. For years I kept a plant hanging near my front door every summer, purchasing a new one each year. It has never thrived, whether it was a wet year or a dry year, hot or cool. Nor did it do anything to reduce the insect population near the door. Other pelargoniums do better--the nutmeg-scented flourished last year, and the rose-scented varieties also seem happy.


On Jun 2, 2004, ccranford from Plainview, AR wrote:

I had seen these 3 plants at a local nursery and didn't buy them. They were 3.99 each and didn't know anything about them. Later I got to thinking about it and decided I really did want them, so I sent my husband to get them today. He bought them for 2.00 each. I came to this web site to check them out and see positive output about them. I am excited to get them in the ground. We live at the lake and have lots of mosquitos. I feel like I made a really great purchase after I see the comments here. I will report on them later.


On Mar 2, 2004, sg_sunny wrote:

I don't see any seeds so I've tried to do stem-cutting. I cut the top 5-10cm off and pot it in soil. I did it for 3, 2 survived and is growing well. Soaking the stem in water before potting in soil didn't work as the ends get rotted. I watered the soil thoroughly, especially in Singapore's hot hot hot weather.


On Dec 8, 2003, Trish70 from Eccles, WV wrote:

I bought 2 small plants in spring of 2003 and planted them in a medium pot.
They have really grown very well,I brought the pot in before the first frost, and it took off even more .It grew to about 2feet tall and for no reason its starting to die. I have watered with miricle grow and keeping my fingers crossed.
Its not completely dead but any suggestiond is gladdly appreciated.I love the scent it gives and the beautiful green foligue. Its a very hard plant to find so i dont want to loose it. thanks to any one who can help


On Jul 29, 2003, babycake wrote:

I have one plant outside my door, in my garden. The scent is wonderful, and I haven't had any bugs all summer. Heavy rains this spring created an abundant mosquito population and I havn't been bitten once. The plant was bought at 1 foot high; is now 5 feet and climbing.


On Jul 18, 2003, creekperson from East Liverpool, OH wrote:

I bought this plant and was given a free sample of "OFF" that is made from this plant. It works, not only the lotion but the plant itself. I put the plant under a lamp on the deck of my pool and no mosquitos (or other bugs) came around, and we all know what a light brings outside out night.

The plant has taken off so well, it's 2 times the size it was in 4 weeks. I would buy more but can't find them now.


On Jun 5, 2003, CaraRose wrote:

I just contacted my local garden shop. They said that any of the scented geraniums (which is what this is) will repel insects because of the high concentration of essential oils. She suggested that anyone have trouble finding this species also try "Snowflake" because the plant's leave get very large.


On Apr 21, 2003, Citrosa wrote:

I have had great success with this plant. I plant them every year and the mosquitos run for the hills. My only problem is the plant are getting harder to find each year.


On Apr 17, 2003, redhen from Weatherby Lake, MO (Zone 5b) wrote:

I bought two of these last summer and put on my patio. They do seem to work. I brought them in the house this winter and they took off, they also made the room smell great!


On Apr 17, 2003, tkm0904 wrote:

I got this as a small little plant approx. 6 mos ago. Now it is big & bushy (been repotted twice & actually needs it again.) I'm afraid if I put it in the ground it would grow into a great big tree. It really does work to keep the mosquitos away & I just love the smell of it. When I water & spray the leaves it becomes especially fragrant.


On Jan 19, 2003, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

The foliage of this is very aromatic. It can be used as an insect repellent, or in cooking; it gives off a wonderful citrus flavor. Flowering is uncommon due to viruses, but as more plants are grown using tissue-propagation, the chances of flowering increase, allowing seeds to form.

Seed will not come true to the named cultivar, varying amounts of scent and leaf-shape will occur.