Citronella Plant: Growing And Caring For Mosquito Plants
The Citrus Family (Limes)
Citronella plants are native to tropical areas of Asia, Africa and South America. They have been cultivated since ancient times for their fragrant flowers. These flowers are used in perfumes, cosmetics and other products. The leaves and stems of these plants are often eaten as food or made into incense sticks.
The leaves and stems are also used as insect repellents.
The Citron Tree
The citrus family includes many different species of trees with very different characteristics. Some are evergreen; others deciduous; still others produce fruit only once a year, while some produce fruits all year round. All citrus trees bear edible fruit, but they differ greatly in size and shape depending upon their preferred season of growth.
All citrus trees are members of the genus Citrus. There are over 500 species of citrus trees worldwide, and each one produces its own distinctive flavor and aroma when ripe. Most varieties of oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits and tangelos come from the same tree family as citronella plants. Each variety grows differently from the next in terms of color, size and shape.
However most varieties will produce white or yellow fruit if grown properly under proper conditions.
Citronella plants are an evergreen shrub with long, narrow leaves. They grow to a height of about one meter and produce white flowers with yellow interiors. These flowers are then followed by small, green berries that turn yellow when ripe. These berries contain tiny, black seeds that are slightly oily in texture.
Since citronella plants grow all over the world, they have many different names in different places. They are also known as the lemon scented geranium, mosquito plant, mosquito repeller, apelemwe pwani and palmarosa.
Citronella plants are best grown in pots because they need a lot of sun and get quite large over time. They also require well-drained soil and regular watering. Too much water can cause root rot, so make sure to let the soil dry out before giving it more water.
The best time to plant a citronella plant is in the spring. You can grow them from seeds or cuttings. Make sure the cutting has two or three nodes before planting it in soil. The best soil temperature for growing citronella plants is between 15 and 30 degrees Celsius.
Common Names: mosquito plant, mosquito repeller, lemon scented geranium, palmarosa, apelemwe pwani.
Family: The citrus family.
Types: There are over 500 different species of citrus trees.
Citronella Plant Care
Temperature: Citronella plants grow best in temperatures between 18 and 30 degrees Celsius. They can tolerate temperatures between 10 and 40 degrees, but will not flower properly if the temperature drops below 10 degrees.
Light: Citronella plants require at least five hours of direct sunlight every day. If the temperature is below 30 degrees, they require partial shade.
Soil: Citronella plants should be grown in well-draining soil. If the soil is regularly wet, it can cause root rot.
Water: Citronella plants require regular watering. They should be watered thoroughly when the soil first becomes dry. Over-watering can lead to root rot, so letting the soil dry out before watering again is important.
Fertilizer: Citronella plants should be fertilized with a low nitrogen, high phosphorus fertilizer when they are planted and again in early spring and again in mid-summer.
Propagation: Citronella plants can be grown from seeds or cuttings.
Pests: Several pests including aphids, spider mites and mealy bugs can infest citronella plants. These pests can be controlled through the use insecticides when necessary.
Plant Type: Citronella plants are shrubs that grow to a height of between 30 and 90 centimeters. The leaves are dark green in color and have a strong lemon smell. They are oval shaped and have smooth edges.
Flowers: The flowers are white with yellow interiors and grow in clusters. They have a very strong smell, which helps to attract bees and other insects necessary for pollination.
Edible Parts: The citronella plant produces small, green berries with a citrus flavor after flowering. They are edible and can be used to flavor cooking oils and vinegars or eaten on their own.
Scientific Name: Albizia lebbeck
Soap plants grow as multistemmed trees up to 15 meters in height and can be identified by their flaky bark and dark green foliage.
The soap nut, as it is also known, produces a nut that is encased in a grey, paper-like shell. These nuts grow directly on the tree, and can be found either singularly or in pairs, usually between the branch and trunk.
Once the nuts are harvested, they are dried and then the shell is removed to reveal a white nut that has a soapy texture.
Common Names: Albizia, lebbek, soapbark tree
Parts Used: Nut
Soap Plant Growing
Temperature: Soap plants thrive in warm temperatures (24 – 32 degrees Celsius). They cannot tolerate frost.
Soil: The soil should be moist most of the year and well drained.
Propagation: The seeds should be sown when fresh, as they do not store well. If stored, they should be kept in a dry place.
Soap Plant Care
Water: Soap plants require regular watering throughout the year. Apply water directly to the soil until it drains out the bottom to ensure that the entire root system is getting enough water.
Fertilizer: A slow release 20-10-20 fertilizer can be applied per season or a mild liquid fertilizer monthly.
Pruning: The plant does not need pruning.
Soap Plant Uses
The soap nuts can be used for personal hygiene (as soap and shampoo), cleaning clothes and washing dishes. It can also be used as a bio-degradable alternative to washing machines in third world countries.
The nuts have been used as soap since Roman times, when the whole tree was used to make a thick, oily soap.
Extract from ‘Complete Survival Guide’
By Ambesh Satapatha
The easiest way of collecting honey from a beehive is to smoke the bees into a calm state, before removing the honeycomb. Bees are most calm after they have consumed honey, so smoking them will not only make them less inclined to attack, but also cause them to expend their energy in creating more honey instead of attacking you.
Sources & references used in this article:
Plants That Repel Mosquitoes Naturally by P Mehta – mykitchengarden.info
Mosquito Plant by C Garden – antimosquitonet.com
Study of Citronella Mosquito Repellent Plants in Tubman University, Harper, Maryland County, Liberia (Paper I) by I Thomas–Connor, I Adetunde – pdfs.semanticscholar.org
Economic Empowerment For Former Leprosy Patient Through Cultivation Of Mosquito Repellent Plants by PR Kartini, A Sulistyarsi, A Suproborini – 2018 – osf.io
Plant-based insect repellents by A Tawatsin, U Thavara, U Chansang… – … the American Mosquito …, 2006 – BioOne