Growing & using Citronella Grass
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, 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.