Garden Myth | Geranium Citronella Repels Mosquitos


What’s in a name? Apparently a big fat lie, if that name is “Geranium Citronella – Mosquito Plant.” Citrosa Geranium, as it’s known in the US and Canada is sold as a mosquito plant (one that repels mosquitos), but the American Botanical Council (ABC) has called its bluff. Their research concludes that the plant is ineffective against repelling mosquitos when plant extracts are applied to the skin. Mosquitos were observed landing and staying on the leaves of the plant during testing. And the buzz among botanists is that Geranium Citronella isn’t even related to true citronella, which by the way, is on the short list of great mosquito-repelling plants.

Geranium Citronella - the mosquito-repelling plant that mosquitos LOVE.

Geranium Citronella – the mosquito-repelling plant that mosquitos LOVE. (huh?)

What’s more, the Geranium Citronella plant is often mistakenly believed to possess the same mosquito-repelling essential oils as the grass also known as citronella. That’s just another myth. Citronella oil doesn’t come from Citrosa Geranium. The big, bushy geranium is just a big green poser.

If you are looking for real mosquito-repelling plants, select from the following short list:

1. Horsemint – a perennial plant that gives off a robust incense-like odor, which confuses mosquitos.
2. Citronella – distinctive in both odor and appearance, citronella looks like stunted pampas grass and has a very unique, strong odor some consider pleasant. Mosquitos are thrown off by the scent.
3. Marigolds – these inexpensive, compact, ornamental border plants contain naturally occurring pyrethrum, a compound in insect repellents.
4. Flossflower – another ornamental beauty, the starburst flower secretes coumarin, an odor that mosquitos detest.
5. Catnip – an all-natural repellent that studies show, is 10x more effective than DEET.

I use Marigolds and Flossflower for my flower beds around my patio. They seem to work pretty well. Have you used any of these in your own garden? 

 OH, SOME NEWS: I have decided what I will write about, when I get to the “X” in the alphabet. I came across a great idea today. Stay tuned 🙂 But I still need help with “Q” and “Z”. 


This article is the seventh in a series of 26 consecutive articles, as part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge for the whole month of April. Tomorrow, I’ll post an article with a title that begins with the letter “H”… So goes the rest of the alphabet, through the end of the month.

In closing, I have a little challenge for you. Because the letters “Q” and “Z” pose a challenge of their own, send me a title idea beginning with those letters. If I choose to write your title, I’ll send you a small prize to show my appreciation.  Use the comments box below, or email your title to iwrite@chuckdouros.com

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2 thoughts on “Garden Myth | Geranium Citronella Repels Mosquitos

  1. Geraniums do grow big and take up a lot of space… and are even great as hedges, so it’s too bad they didn’t work to deter mosquitos. As for marigolds, what I love about marigolds is that they are prolific. Bloom, die back… bloom again, die back… bloom again ad nauseum. Great in poor soil too. A friend of mine plants one marigold at the base of every tomato plant to fend off all kinds of bugs. I would think that would cause them to compete with the tomato roots, but she swears by it. I like to plant marigolds at the end of each row… and not the gigantic marigolds, but the dwarf variety.

  2. Thanks for this information! I know the mosquito plant doesn’t work – been there, done that. But I do mix marigolds in with my tomatoes and flower gardens and I find that they do deter those little pests.

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