Does lemongrass repel mosquitoes? We get asked this question countless times.
Lemongrass natively belongs to the tropical parts of Southeast Asia. It contains citronella oil which carries a few anti-fungal properties that are often used to make insect repellents. But does that mean it will make mosquitoes go away? Our guide will answer all your questions below.
More About Lemongrass
Its scientific name is Cymbopogon citratus and the plant has a circling scent that’s used in recreational setups such as spas or social joints. Most people who use it as a repellent go with the belief that mosquitoes get bugged by the scent. Others use this perennial grass as a spice when cooking chicken, fish, or any other seafood—to get rid of the fishy odor and taste.
Even though there have been products in the market made of essential elements extracted from plants like rosemary, eucalyptus, basil, lemon balm peppermint, garlic, or the cedar tree just to hint a couple, Lemongrass has, for many years, been used as a natural remedy for irritating mosquitoes by many homeowners. Lemongrass is not only used as a mosquito repellent but is also a tasty additive for making tea.
Despite being a plant with a bunch of stunning gains to lean on, the Lemongrass isn’t quite an effective mosquito repellent. Regardless, it still has citronella oil which helps scatter mosquitoes in your living space. With USDA hardiness zones of between 10-11, this perennial doesn’t need extreme growing or nurturing requirements.
Growing Lemongrass Oil as a Mosquito Repellent
Citronella oil is already recognized by the FDA as an essential component used in mosquito repellents that are usually made in the form of candles, lotions, or sprays. So planting the Lemongrass on your windowsill would be a pretty solid idea. Or alternatively, you can choose to put the growing medium on areas where mosquitoes hide the most.
Ideally, you want to plant your citronella grass in a large planter since it grows tall and wild—about 3-5 feet tall.
Since the Lemongrass is such a hardy plant you won’t need to care much about the growing conditions, except for those we’ll point out in this guide. For the most part, all you need to do is expose it to full sunlight and grow it in soil that drains water quite well.
Since high chances are you’d probably choose to grow it indoors, I’d suggest putting the medium close to a window that brightly lets in natural light. To keep the roots from rotting, pick a medium with holes at the bottom for seamless drainage.
If you’re looking to expand the number of Lemongrass plants in your home, you can propagate them yourself by dissecting a few healthy leaves from the mother plant and grow in new containers. Since this plant is natively from Southeast Asia, it’s far more yielding to let your plant mutate to the natural environment of this region by tweaking the growing conditions for your baby Lemongrass.
Soil & Transplanting Requirements
As we just hinted in the section above, Lemongrass thrives in well-draining soil, preferably rich, loamy soil. Loam soil tends to retain moisture a lot better than sandy soil but gets thirsty quite faster, hence you’ll need to water it more often.
You can opt to amend your soil with compost, manure, or leaf mold—to preserve the soil moisture, boost fertility, and suppress the growth of weeds. Repotting your Lemongrass in rich potting soil with bits of slow-releasing fertilizer—especially when spring checks in—would go a long way to help it rejuvenate its growth cells and restore the nutrient levels of the soil.
Naturally, the Lemongrass isn’t a drought-resistant plant and can’t do well without regular watering sessions. This plant grows fast and forceful in warm and humid conditions, so it needs plenty of water to propel its growth.
You also don’t want to ruin the rooting hormones, so drenching it in too much water could still be disastrous in the long run, mostly if the soil doesn’t drain well.
If you want to grow your Lemongrass on direct ground soil, you need to water it evenly and the moisture needs to be proportionate to the surface area that it’s growing on. Remember to use rich soil and don’t leave it to dry out completely, but be careful not to overwater it so it doesn’t begin to rot.
Root rot causes the plant to wither since it eventually fails to absorb the essential macronutrients from the soil. Lemongrass growing in a container requires more water than that in the ground since moisture rapidly evaporates from the sides of the medium—not to mention that potted plants solely depend on the moisture they get from watering sessions.
Plants growing on ground soil leverage the capacity to stretch their roots further and find moisture elsewhere. Same as many other perennials, the Lemongrass hits its optimal growth stages throughout summer and spring. And for this reason, you want to water your plant regularly—say after every 2 days —during these two seasons.
Lemongrass is genetically tuned to grow tall like other grasses. This is to suggest that it needs soluble fertilizer that’s rich in nitrogen, and if possible, other essential elements that help in photosynthesis including phosphorus and potassium. To yield better results, you want to go 6-4-0 fertilizer that enhances the pH stability and blends well with peat manure.
Temperature & Humidity
Lemongrass is a rigid perennial that almost certainly survives throughout winter—only if you can regulate the temperature and humidity levels it grows in. Any strain of Lemongrass that adapts to its native conditions grows intensely and at full tilt under warm and moist temperatures. If you’re living in a zone with such a climate, you can grow it outdoors on ground soil throughout the year.
For it to get through winter without any hurdles, it needs to be under temperatures that are slightly above 40°F, and shouldn’t change inconsistently. This perennial is overly-sensitive to frosting conditions. It would, therefore, be ideal to grow your Lemongrass in a container—to make the relocation exercise, especially during winter a whole lot easier when the temperatures outside get extremely low.
Most essential oils are fit for human consumption. They can sometimes, however, be moderately irritating if you rub them on your skin. So before you settle on growing and nurturing your Lemongrass, you want to make sure that the extracts won’t make your skin exhibit signs of an allergic reaction.
If you begin to show any allergic signs, that’s a red flag to indicate it’s not worth it to grow the Lemongrass in your home. You also need to keep it far from pets since it results in stomach upsets when ingested by cats and dogs, according to the ASPCA.
Common Pests and Diseases
Most often, the Lemongrass is prone to rust fungus. Other times when the plant hits its maturity, the leaves might begin to have a few brown spots on the lower surface of the leaves. You can prevent the rust by not watering your plant excessively.