Where does Citronella come from?
From two species of grass in the
Cymbopogon genus. The most common of these Citronella Grasses is Cymbopogon
nardus, a native of Sri Lanka. Cymbopogons are a neat group of grasses, about 50
or so of which are known, that have fragrant leaves. Fresh or dried Citronella
Grass, like its famous cousin Lemon Grass
(Cymbopogon citratus), is steam
distilled to remove its essential oil. This essential oil is effective in
repelling insects and is used in everything from candles to dog collars.
An exotic tropical grass, Citronella Grass will not withstand temperatures
below 32 degrees. It is a thin, reedy grass with a rather unusual flower that
makes one wonder why the plant bothers. Still, it is a very rare novelty which
makes a nice summer patio plant, releasing a clean lemony fragrance when
caressed or crushed. Dried, it makes an interesting addition to Potpourri.
Cymbopogon nardus is a clump forming grass that should be planted in well
drained soil and positioned in plenty of sun. A gallon or larger pot makes a good
starter home for one of our three inch
pots of Citronella Grass. Just be sure to bring the pot in before the first frost.
Trim it back to about three inches above the ground and set it in a sunny
window or under fluorescent lights for the winter.