The abundance of mosquitoes, and dengue carrying mosquitoes at that, is a good reason to stay indoors rather than enjoy the garden. We have used citronella scented candles to ward the darned suckers away, but they get a bit pricey, and don’t last that long. So I have always been on the lookout for alternatives… and I came across a vendor at the FTI Taguig market that had citronella grasses for sale. I bought several clumps worth and planted them in our garden. Only one clump survived the really wet period a few months back, and it’s thriving in a clay pot. When you go near this plant, you can clearly smell that characteristic citronella fragrance, and I sure hope it helps ward off mosquitoes…

…some googling suggests that just having the plants in the garden is insufficient, as it is the powerful aroma of the essential oils that are most effective. But some other sites seem convinced that the plants do help, see this site here, for example. The plant looks like tanglad or lemongrass (a relative, I gather) and it’s quite attractive when it gets bushy…

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35 Responses

  1. My mom has a potted Neem tree growing right outside the front door, instead of a citronella bush, for several years now. Seems to work

  2. I’ve always wondered what a citronella plant looks like and assumed that it looks like a lime plant (citronella = citrus plant hehe) and not grass-like.
    Instead of citronella candles, I use citronella oil and an essential oil diffuser whenever we need to be outdoors. We’ll be using one when we go to the cemetery this upcoming Nov 1.
    For the readers, I buy the citronella oil from a small kiosk in front of True Value in Alabang Town Center (ATC). I’ve also seen some being sold in the home section of SM and Robinsons.

  3. I see a lot of “manlalako ng citronella” lately in the kapitolyo(pasig) area as well as in magallanes, makati. They just walk around with a bag or two of citronella that has a “citronella for sale” board attached to it. Havent asked how much but I’ve been pretty tempted to buy one. For now we have what Ami uses- citronella oil. We dilute the oil in water in a sprayer and use that to spray all over the house :)

  4. I’ve always wondered what these are since we have it in the front yard. After seeing this post and showed it to my son (who’s a garden enthusiast) said it’s indeed citronella.

    Prior to this, I bought my pure citronella oil in Hyco Laboratories(which sells aroma and essential therapy oils in 500ml bottles, some come in food grade like the pure peppermint oil that I got there as well. The citronella comes in ‘grade’ and varies in price, same for their other oils.

  5. Got a tip from a friend and used eucalyptus branches — I put a bunch in vases in the house, seems to be effective also to ward off mosquitos. But it’s pricey so I was not able to maintain them.
    Hope I can find citronella that’s for sale in our area.

  6. @ elaine: would you be so kind to share the contact/address details for Hyco Labs, pretty please? :)

  7. MM: there is another citronella plant I know ( also known as citrosa geranium, mosquito plant, pelargonium citrosum) which I grow in my deck garden that looks like this:

    But for its name and scent it has not really been shown to be effective in repelling certain species of mosquitoes. It is claimed that P.citrosum may be a genetic bonding of the African geranium with genes from cymbopogon (lemongrass).

    I wonder how one can distinguish the insect repelling citronella from lemongrass we use for cooking:

  8. I bought a pot of Citronella from Edsa Garden House last year but it did not last long enough indoors. I suppose it really needed a lot of sunshine and better placed outdoors. So I just ended up buying the essential oil from and have an oil burner inside the house.

    Being new here in New Mexico, I have not spotted a single mosquito yet which is somehow a relief.

  9. What a coincidence, MM. Just this morning on my way to the office, I saw a man hawking potted Citronella plants. Too bad I was on the tricycle and did not have the chance to ask how much, etc. Like you as well, I like the candles but they’re pricey, so I only buy them every now and then. :-)

  10. Hey Marketman try oregano too.

    at least its a little more useful and not as “weedy” looking.

    wards of mosquitoes and is great for pizza dishes and a great decongestant when taken as tea.

  11. I bought those hawked citronella in Jupiter St., Makati at P250. P300 was the selling price at first, I dunno if you can haggle it to P200 or less.

  12. You can buy this along Connecticut st. in front of a resto, along Edsa. Not sure of the name of the resto, the price is around 300, pero pwede tawaran. I bought 1 and asked the guy to give me one more for 100 pesos.

    I placed this at our balcony in our condo, which has a lot of mosquitoes. Wha la! They all vanished. I guess the smell really does irritate them. Im going to buy some more to give to my parents.

  13. said a man selling citronella seedlings- the citronella plant has a reddish sheath (that outer covering wrapped around the pseudostem of the grass), lemongrass is just green. the citronella’s leaf blade is also wider than that of lemongrass.

  14. We have a mulberry – citronella farm here in Negros Oriental. I agree that as a plant it is not effective as a repellent. We still have mosquitoes in the farm despite thousands of citronella. I mix vco with our citronella essential oil and apply on the exposed skin. It has to mask our smell to be most effective, just like Off but natural.

  15. MM,,,studies have been made ……that mosquitoes have a color preference…you can have your whole garden surrounded by citronella plants but if you are wearing black, red…you are a clear target for them pesky mosquitoes! Beige and whites …you are neutral to them unless you smell like James Bond!!!

  16. I had mosquito plant (potted) in my front porch and it seemed to have worked. But we moved to another State and I had to leave the plant behind.

    Thanks Carmen for posting that I can find this citronella plant in Manila Seedling; I am going to have my hipag buy at least 3 pots, to be planted in my Mission House in Quezon Province. The back lot being empty makes my backyard mosquito heaven, my nieces does not even want to go there.

    MM, I think I have posted before that smoking dried lansones peelings around the yard perimeter helps alot. That is what my uncle’s family do; about once a week during the mosquito season.

    Eucalyptus helps too, rubbing the bruised leaf in your skin…but gosh, I am allergic to it.

  17. We buy the citromint oil that they sell at a stall in Shangrila mall (across true value). Just a few drops with water in a diffuser is a sure way to get rid of those pesky Mosquitos. It makes the room smell a bit spa-ish though.

    Eucalyptus leaves also seem to do the trick. We were lucky enough to have a tree in our yard in Baguio – it gave us a couple of years supply. Kaya Lang the tree died when we last checked. It must have been hit by lightning.

  18. @EbbaBlue – thanks for the tip on how to use the eucalyptus, altho’ I wonder if it will make me smell like a koala hehehe

    @Christine – speaking of spa-ish, I prefer the smell of eucalyptus vs. citronella, so I think I’ll try the diffuser trick with eucalyptus oil this weekend. hopefully it will keep the skeeters away. thanks for the tip!

  19. Hi MM. Another plant you can try is the neem tree. So many studies continue to be published about the neem’s many beneficial uses, one of them its insecticidal properties.

    This link contains interesting information on the many uses of the plant, including its insecticidal properties.
    (You can disregard the note on the neem twigs being used in Asia and africa as toothbrushes – ha ha! Also, there’s the part about studies on the spermicidal properties of extracts – that’s one for the RH Bill! )

    The simplest thing to do would be to burn neem leaves (not inside the house!) .This would repel repels mosquitoes and other insect pests. I am not sure if keeping the tree in the garden is enough to repel mosquitoes and other insects.

    The most insect controlling properties are derived by extracting the oil from the fruits , if one is patient enough to go the extent of doing so. The Studies have claimed that insecticide made from neem extracts prove to by much much safer than DEET.

    Here is a link on how to extract the oil.
    According to the link, neem has the chemical Azadirachtin that prevents insects at the larval stage from maturing into adults. It also mentions that a compound found in neem oil – Salannin – is an insect repellant more effective yet much less toxic than DEET.

    The neem tree is quite an attractive tree, with a nice bush shape, and nicely serrated small leaves – a nice addition to the garden. You can have it grow to full size, or keep your neem as smaller bush-like plants. Here is a link with pictures of the leaves and the tree:

  20. There is an article published by National Gardening Association that states that citronella plants just sitting in pots does nothing to repel mosquitoes unless the leaves are crushed or bruised to release the essential oils. A close relative of citronella plant is the lemon balm that has a greater concentration of the citronella oil. So, if I were you, Ebba…get also a lemon balm plant. Not only can use use the leaves to make tea, the essence can also ward off mosquitoes!

    However, anyone wishing to try bruising any leaves to ward off mosquitoes by applying on their skin, be wary for it might cause rashes. So, best to test it by applying on a small spot on your inner arm and see if any redness will occur with Benadryl or Reactine close by!

  21. We lived in Michigan for few years and mosquitos are the worst! We put some mouthwash on a sprayer and just spray it around seems to work for us. Dunno if this will work there…

  22. I’ve been seen ambulant vendors selling citronella in Monumento in Caloocan the other day. Didn’t think that it was a good tool to combat those pesky mosquitoes. I hope I get to see those vendors again tomorrow.

  23. It’s the start of the mosquito season! Ive tried burning dried lazones skins but how many kilos of lazones should we eat? lol. I liked the smell of burning dried lazones…I hope the mosquitoes didn’t. I also tried dried nim tree leaves and burned them early evening but had to supplement with katol. There are some hovering around me still. oh heck! Despite the cool breeze, these pesky mosquitoes are hovering around me. I love to stay in the garden pa naman.

  24. Another very interesting and very informative article on WebMD…are you a mosquito magnet? For those wishing to try oil of eucalyptus…lemon eucalyptus better. .

    Corrine…what I found very interesting is that female mosquitoes are the ones that hunt or hover over people rather than the male mosquitoes. So if you anyone is being followed, chances are your are breathing heavily emitting a lot of carbon dioxide which attracts them and they are mostly female mosquitoes.

  25. Thanks BettyQ.
    Now, I just remember, this is the most effective than any insect repellant, and I use this method when I am gardening. I apply (generously) Vicks vapor rub in my arms and legs and any exposed skin (yeah in my forehead too, but not on the cheeks), and behind my ears. This is effective too if you come in contact with a “itchy” leaf or those little mites. I get little/tiny bumps after (sure insects bites, not allergic reaction), but I don’t get itchiness. The only drawback, if its too hot outside, your skin seem can’t breathe because of the coating. I use this method too when I go to the mountains on my ministry trips.

  26. citronella can be bought at Centris (sidcor) sunday market for 50 pesos each plant. natatawa kasi ako because my brother in-law was bragging that he tawad down daw a maglalako ng citronella from 300 pesos to 250 pesos each and he thinks they are cheap, hahahaha. i showed him what i bought sa sidcor without any tawad :-)

  27. Thanks for this info..I always thought citronella is one and the same as lemon grass(tanglad)
    I also buy my Citromint bottle from that little kiosk in front of True Value at ATC. I put a few drops in a spray bottle filled with water and use it almost everywhere to repel mosquitoes, ants and cockroaches too! Everytime we clean the cabinets below the kitchen sink, we spray it heavily with this, leave it to air a few minutes then put everything back.

  28. For Cebu area you can get citronella oil from me text 09328789537.
    I have no means of shipping out to other areas since LBC does no accept them.

  29. My sister survived dengue last week and this post is so very timely. Thanks MM! :)

    PS Hawkers are all over Kapitolyo and they sell it very expensively, P300 with a P50 peso tawad, perhaps to compensate for the non-stop walkathon? :)

  30. Well, i have lots of potted cintronella which help me up for my business. Cintronella help the soil errosion because of its roots and i harvest with in a few months using advanced soil nutrition aside for repellant in my small farm here in ibaan bats, phils. i also help or conducted training for those interested you may call me thru my mobile 09328458098 or thru my email thank you happy farming

  31. can you please tell me where exactly is that place? we really need citronella plant for our research project…pretty please??

  32. faye, the citronella was from the FTI Taguig market, in the FTI complex. It isn’t always on offer, so you may also want to try the Manila Seedling Bank in Quezon City for other sources.

  33. don’t get confused about lemon grass and citronella. they look the same at first glance only differs in smell and a bit in its stalk when looked closely. citronella doesn’t taste good as oppose to lemon grass.

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