Live to Plant

What is the Origin of Citronella Plant

Updated: March 25, 2022

The citronella plant, also known as Cymbopogon nardus, is a perennial grass that belongs to the Poaceae family. This plant is native to tropical Asia, particularly in countries like Sri Lanka and Indonesia. The plant has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, and its essential oils are known for their insect-repelling properties.

History of Citronella Plant

The use of citronella dates back to ancient times. It was used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat various ailments, including stomach problems and rheumatism. The plant also has a rich history in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, where it was used to treat fevers and digestive disorders.

Citronella essential oil was first extracted in the 19th century by French chemist Charles Gerhardt. He discovered that the oil had insect-repelling properties and started using it as an insecticide.

Cultivation of Citronella Plant

Citronella plants are easy to grow and can be cultivated in most climates. They prefer well-drained soil and require full sun exposure. The plants can grow up to six feet tall and have long, slender leaves that give off a lemon-like scent when crushed.

The plant is usually grown from seeds or by dividing the root ball of an established plant. Once established, citronella plants require minimal care and maintenance. They can be harvested by cutting the stems at ground level and drying the leaves.

Uses of Citronella Plant

The most common use of citronella plant is as an insect repellent. Its essential oil is used in various products like candles, sprays, and lotions to keep insects away. The oil is also used as a flavoring agent in food and beverages like tea.

In traditional medicine, citronella is used to treat various health conditions like fever, headaches, and digestive disorders. Its essential oil is also used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation and reduce stress.

Citronella vs. Lemongrass

Citronella and lemongrass are often confused with each other because of their similar appearance and scent. However, they belong to different species of the Cymbopogon genus.

Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus) has a stronger scent and is more effective as an insect repellent than lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus). Lemongrass is commonly used in cooking and has a citrusy flavor.


The citronella plant has a rich history in traditional medicine and is widely known for its insect-repelling properties. It is easy to grow and can be cultivated in most climates. The plant’s essential oil is used in various products like candles, sprays, and lotions to keep insects away. Citronella is also used in traditional medicine to treat various health conditions.


Is citronella plant safe for pets?

Citronella plant is generally safe for pets, but its essential oil can be toxic to cats and dogs if ingested in large amounts. It is best to keep pets away from citronella-based products.

How long does citronella plant take to grow?

Citronella plants usually take around three to four months to germinate and can take up to two years to reach full maturity.

Can citronella plant be grown indoors?

Yes, citronella plants can be grown indoors as long as they have access to plenty of sunlight. They should also be placed in well-draining soil and watered regularly.