Citronella Pelargonium

Pelargonium citronellum

Lemon-Scent Pelargonium, Citrus Pelargonium

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This strongly scented herb releases a lemon scent when touched, and can grow into a 2 m high bush under the right conditions. The lovely pink-purple flowers bloom from spring to summer. This low-maintenance plant must be pruned regularly to maintain its shape and is easily grown from cuttings. The scented leaves can be used as potpourri.
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Planning

Difficulty

Easy

Flowering time

Spring, Summer

Fruiting time

Summer, Autumn

Harvesting

Leaves can be harvested for potpourri and can be picked as needed. Plants can be cut in late summer and distilled for oil.

Propagation

Cuttings

Take softwood or herbaceous cuttings and use rooting hormone powder. Place cuttings in river sand and keep damp. Should root in 2-4 weeks. Transplant when a strong root-ball has formed.

Seed

Sow seeds shallowly in late summer to early autumn in a light, well-drained potting mix. Water gently but thoroughly with a fine rose spray. Place in light shade. Germination takes 2-3 weeks.

Special features

Repels harmful insects

This plant can be used as a companion plant to repel pests, as the lemon scent has natural insecticidal properties, although it has not been proven whether it is effective or not.

Pot plant

Pelargonium citronellum makes a good pot plant provided it is planted in well-draining soil and receives at least 6 hours of sunlight.

Drought resistant

Attractive flowers

Special features

Origin

South Africa, Little Karoo, the northern foothills of the Langeberg near Ladysmith, and Herbertsdale.

Natural climate

Mediterranean to semi-arid

Environment

Light

Full Sun, Partial Shade, Partial Sun

Soil moisture

Dry

Soil type

Loam, Sand

Soil PH preference

Alkaline, Neutral

Frost hardiness

Tender

Uses

Edible

Leaves can be used as a culinary herb, to flavour pudding, infused to make tea or used fresh in desserts, punch, and vinegar.

Notes

Potpourrii and to repel garden pests

Personality

Family

Geraniaceae

Flower colour

Pink, Purple

Scent

Mild

Problems

Pelargonium 'Citronellum' can be attacked by leafhoppers, aphids, spider mites, and whitefly if planted under cover.

Credits

profile iconPelargonium citronellum
by Luyanda Mjuleni, Kirstenbosch, National Botanical Garden, March 2007. Acknowledgements: The author thanks Trevor Adams for information on the propagation and cultivation of, Pelargonium citronellum, and Alice Notten for helping with the writing of this article. (Copyright South African National Biodiversity Institute, South Africa)
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Knowledge and advice

Search our ever-growing knowledge base to find plants and information. Find out about pests and diseases you should be keeping an eye out for. Watch How to videos or follow step by step guides for tasks in the garden. Free download for your phone or tablet.
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