It is a grass, which reaches up to five feet in height. It is an herb with a sweet and soft fragrance, which gives off an oil when it is in direct contact with the sun. This essence is imperceptible for people, but for insects (like the mosquito), it is therefore used as a natural repellent.
What is citronella and what is it used for?
There are eight subspecies of this plant, from which the oil is used, for medicinal purposes. In addition to repellent can be used to make scrubs in the stomach, relieving heaviness. In the field of aromatherapy it is a tonic with diuretic and stimulant properties.
Its main component is citronellol, which is fungicidal, antiseptic, antibacterial, insecticide and herbicide. It is also part of some perfumery and cosmetics products.
It also consists of geraniol and caryophyllene, both to repel insects in the garden during the summer, especially mosquitoes .
In order to use citronella and extract its oil, it is necessary to cut a part of the plant and let it dry in the sun.
Against indications of citronella
Although it is an “ecological” and natural repellent and does not cause damage to health, it is not recommended to rub on the skin when it is irritated or a short time before being exposed to the sun, because it can cause spots, swelling or itching.
For its part, citronella is contraindicated for pregnant women and in cases of people with intolerance to skin products, who have dermatitis or periodic inflammation.
How to grow citronella
If you want a natural repellent so that mosquitoes do not bother you when you are resting outdoors, you can directly plant citronella in your garden. You can also use it in the kitchen to flavor some dishes, such as soups, meats or infusions.
If the soil is rich and fertile, its growth will be immediate, it needs direct sun all day and regular irrigation. It is resistant to cold climates and frost, but proliferates at warm temperatures. Be careful because you can expand if you do not pay attention. It is best to control your growth with pruning every few weeks. It is very ornamental and looks beautiful in the park.
Image courtesy of Pabloendemico