Ever wonder how this plant got its name? A dutch botanist incorporated the genes of Chinese citronella grass into an African geranium resulting in a hydrid having the growth habits of a geranium and the scent of citronella. It works best when leaves are crushed and rubbed on the skin. Mosquitos don't like the scent of citronella and will avoid it.
The mosquito plant has also been called the "citrosa" plant after its chemical constituent. The leaves may contain up to 40% of the repellency of DEET, the active ingredient in DEEP WOODS OFF. Lemon thyme has 62% as much repellancy as DEEP WOODS OFF! However, the plant as a whole is only about 0.09% citronellal, the chemical in citronella oil. "So," Arthur Tucker Ph.D., a plant fragrance specialist from Delaware State College, says "the plant will do no good sitting there in a pot, the best chance of it repelling mosquitos if rubbing the crushed leaves on skin after testing a small patch for allergies."
Mosquito plants make good outdoor and indoor plants. In colder climates, plants may be grown outdoors during the summer, but must be taken inside before the first frost. In warmer climates, plants can be grown outside year round and can reach three to four feet high and wide.
When growing mosquito plants indoors, keep them watered and use plant food occassionally. They prefer full sun or do well in partial shade.
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|Dr. Lee's horticulture lab website|