Citronella- cultivation, benefits and project report

Citronella is a tall, perennial barbed wire grass that is widely popular for its aroma and insect repellant property. The Citronella oil is mainly used in Soaps, Incent sticks, and Mosquito repellants. They resemble the smell of lemons, which is used in culinary and medicinal herbs. Citronella plant is grown in Taiwan, Guatemala, Hurendous, Malaysia, Brazil, Sri Lanka, India, Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, and West Indies.

Citronella scientifically called Cymbopogon. There are two species of Citronella :

Cymbopogon winterianus Jowitt and Cymbopogon nardus Rendle both look similar. 

  • The two species can be distinguished morphologically because of C.winterianus has shorter and broader leaves than C. nardus.
  • C.winterianus gives a higher yield of oil and the oil quality is better than C.nardus. Geraniol and citronellal content is higher.
  • C. winterianus requires more fertile soil, more rainfall, and care than the hardier C. nardus. 
  • C.winterianus mainly grown in the islands of Java, Guatemala, Honduras, and Haiti, hence it is called as Java oil.
  • C. nardus mainly is grown in Sri Lanka, hence its called Ceylon oil.
  • Java oil contains geraniol and citronellal which are used for antifungal and mosquito repellants.

Read more: Palmarosa – cultivation, benefits and project report

Citronella grass characteristics

  1. Citronella grass plant is native to tropical areas of Asia. 
  2. Citronella is a multiyear crop, which can be used for 3 years.
  3. Citronella grows around 2 meters (6.6ft) in height.
  4. Leaves are long, green, barbed wiregrass.
  5. Citronella oil constitutes geraniol and citronellal, which act as antiseptics.

Read more: Lemongrass – cultivation, benefits and project report

Citronella oil benefits

Citronella has a wide variety of benefits

  1. Citronella oil is beneficial for scenting soaps, detergents and insect repellent.
  2. The presence of citronellal and geraniol in Citronella oil is used for perfumes, cosmetics, and beverages.
  3. Citronella grass adds flavoring for culinary purposes.
  4. Citronella oil is also used as an insect repellent ingredient in sprays, candles, soaps, and aromatherapy.
  5.  A great fever reducer. 
  6. Acts as a muscle relaxer.

Cultivation of Citronella grass

Citronella is very easy to grow and requires low maintenance. A complete guide from soil preparation to the harvest of Citronella grass is shared below:

1. Soil Selection for Citronella cultivation

  • Soil should be porous. Preferable red soil with a mix of sand.
  • The organic content in soil should be around 5.8 to 6.5 percent
  • Should be enough wetness in soil and more sunlight is required.
  • Rains should be around 200-250cm per year.

2. Sowing period

  • The slip of Citronella which has well-developed roots should be sown directly.
  • 12000 to 15000 Citronella slips are required for the one-acre plot.
  • Each Citronella slip costs 3Rs (approx).
  • Best time to sow Citronella is between June – July.
  • Sow at a distance of 60*45 cm

3. Irrigation for Citronella cultivation

  • Watering is not necessary during rainy days.
  • Water the Citronella slips once in 3-4 days in the first month.
  • Later once the plant is established water once in 10 to 15 days.
  • It requires a low amount of water. 
  • It requires a lot of sunshine, and less rain around 200-250cm per year.

4. Weeding procedure in Citronella cultivation

  • Initially after sowing Citronella once or twice before the first harvest.
  • Later weeding should be done, after every harvest.

5. Harvesting Citronella grass

  • The complete crop above the ground can be used to extract the essential oil.
  • The percentage of citronellal will determine the quality of Citronella oil.
  • Harvest the crop from 10 to 15 cm above the ground. Leaving the plant to regrow.
  • The first harvest is after 7 to 8 months when it is fully grown.
  • Successive harvests will be after every 3 to 4 months for the next 3 years.
  • 10 ton to 14 ton herbage from an acre per harvest can be expected. (10 -14 ton/acre/harvest)
  • There are 3 to 4 harvests per year.

6. Citronella Essential Oil extraction

  • The extraction of this essential oil is done by steam distillation of grass.
  • The distillation process should be done for 3 hours to extract complete Citronella oil.
  • Start oil extraction only after 24 hrs of harvest, as the water content will reduce the moisture content by 30% and improves oil yield. Do not let the herbage to dry in direct sunlight, keep in shade.

7. Aromatic Oil Production from Citronella per acre

  • In 1-ton herbage 8kg – 10kg of essential oil can be extracted.
  • So per acre in a year around 75 kg – 120 kg of essential Citronella oil can be extracted.

8. Purification of Citronella oil

The insoluble particles present in the oil are removed by a simple filtration method after mixing it with anhydrous sodium sulfate and keeping it overnight or for 4-5 hours.

9. Storage and Packing of Citronella Oil

  • The oil can be stored in glass bottles or containers made up of stainless steel or aluminum or galvanized iron, depending upon the quantity of oil to be stored.
  • The oil should be filled up to the brim and the containers should be kept away from direct heat and sunlight in cool/shaded places.

Citronella plant varieties

There are varieties of Citronella plant which differs in herbage quantity and Citronellal content, some are developed by research centers in India. Here are the best varieties available in the market.

Citronella VarietiesOil extracted (kg/acre/year)Citronellal(%)
Madakini93kg – 95kg38
80kg – 85kg39
Bio – 13
76kg – 80kg38

GC report for Citronella Essential Oil

Gas chromatography (GC) is a common type of chromatography used in analytical chemistry for separating and analyzing compounds that can be vaporized without decomposition. There should be a peak for Citronellal, this determines the quality of Citronella Oil quality. The purity oil determines the rate in the market. After every oil extraction process, the GC certificate is a must for that batch, to command a better price.

Citronella cultivation project report

Complete details of expenditure and profit for the consecutive 3 years of Citronella Essential oil extraction.

Land Preparation5,000  
Sowing and Transplanting4,000  
Oil extraction15,0001500015000
Total expenditure
Oil extracted 76– 80 kg76– 80 kg76– 80 kg
Essential oil Rs 1100 /kg (present market rate)83,600 – 88,00083,600 – 88,00083,600 – 88,000
Total Profit(₹)16,600 – 21,00060,600 – 65,00060,600 – 65,000

We can always save the cost of Citronella slips as its expensive for more than one acre of land. A small amount of planning can bring down costs. Sow slips in a quarter of an acre4 to 6 months prior to actual sowing. By now the Citronella will grow and have a lot of slips in the single plant. Each plant can produce more than 100 slips. This can be transplanted to the larger field.

Citronella cultivation profit on an average for consecutive 3 years is ₹20,000, ₹60,000 and ₹60,000. Farmers can earn a stable income through Citronella cultivation. Most of the water-scarce locations are well suited for Citronella cultivation. The demand for Citronella oil is an all-time high, as it has a long list of benefits and spread across the market.

Citronella cultivation complete  information guide

Citronella is a perennial grass that can be harvested at 2-3 times during the first year and 3-4 times from second year onward. As this crop can be maintained for 3 years, the above-mentioned schedule starting from irrigation shall be followed for the remaining period with suitable alterations. The complete Information guide for Citronella cultivation is given below.  

Major activityMonthActivity details
Land preparationMay – June1ft deep plowing & harrowing
Manure and fertilizer application May – JuneNPK is required. Use Natural farming practice – apply Jeevamrutham (every 15 days once)
Sowing slips
June – July Sowing of healthy slips at a
spacing of 60*45cm
IrrigationJune – July One irrigation immediately after transplanting and subsequent irrigation at 10-15 days interval along with water.
Weeding August- September Two weeding at 40 days after transplanting and another at 30-40 days after first weeding.
First harvest October – November Harvest the Citronella by cutting the clumps at 10-15 cm from the ground level
Weeding October – November Normal weeding
Irrigation October – November Irrigation should be given after harvesting. Continue Jeevamrutham every 15 days along with water.
Second harvest February – March Harvest the citronella grass by cutting the clumps at 10-15 cm from the ground level
Irrigation February – March Irrigation should be given after harvesting. Continue Jeevamrutham every 15 days along with water.
Third harvestMay – JuneHarvest the citronella grass by cutting the clumps at 10-15 cm from the ground level
IrrigationMay – June Irrigation should be given after harvesting. Continue Jeevamrutham every 15 days along with water.

Does Citronella Grass Repel Mosquitoes?

There is a myth that Citronella grass repels mosquitoes, which is not true. Citronella grass has nothing to do with mosquitoes, however, their extracted oil repels mosquitoes. 

Citronella grass will not release oil while it is growing. The oil needs to be extracted and can be used as Mosquito repellant. Be sure that the oil should not be allergic to your body, test sample and use it.

1 thought on “Citronella- cultivation, benefits and project report”

  1. Really good information.

    Can you give me information about the machinery(extraction plant ), area ,shade,electricity required,manpower,.The manufacturer etc.


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