If you have a citronella plant, you already know that it can naturally repel mosquitos. But to enjoy the benefits of this scented geranium, you need to take care of it. This shrubby perennial will thrive in your garden under the right conditions.

Why is my citronella leaves turning yellow?

But your citronella plant may lose its natural green color and start to turn yellow, despite your best efforts. This condition is also referred to as chlorosis. Chlorosis describes the condition when something interferes with your citronella’s chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the vital green pigment required for citronella to convert carbon dioxide and water into glucose and oxygen using sunlight. An inadequate supply of chlorophyll turns citronella plants yellow.

The citronella plant will turn yellow for several reasons, such as lack of nutrients in the soil, poor drainage, insufficient amount of moisture, compacted roots, root damage, or suboptimal soil pH level.

Does nutrient deficiency turn my citronella plant yellow?

Nutrient deficiency can turn your citronella plant yellow. All plants need oxygen, hydrogen and carbon, but they also need various nutrients to thrive. And your citronella plant must get access to the necessary nutrients through its root.

When your citronella turns yellow, a soil test can help determine what nutrients are missing. In addition, a quick look at the leaves can shed light on the situation. Citronelle plants with nutrient deficiencies often have distinct patterns of chlorosis, like green veins with yellow tissue in between, that first appear on leaves.

Does nitrogen deficiency turn citronella yellow?

Yellow leaves can signal a nitrogen deficiency in citronella. Some nutrient deficiencies, such as nitrogen deficiency, can make older leaves yellow. Older leaves will turn yellow because the citronella plant can move nitrogen from leaf to leaf as necessary. That’s why we call nitrogen a mobile nutrient. For example, when a citronella plant is low on a mobile nutrient such as nitrogen, it can withdraw it from its older leaves.

As a result, your citronella plant can continue to grow. Unfortunately, this is only a temporary solution, and it only works for a while. Low nitrogen levels turn the older leaves yellow, and new leaves will remain green.

However, an immobile nutrient like iron is essentially stuck in older leaves, so a plant with an iron deficiency will develop chlorosis in new leaves while older leaves will remain green.

Aside from nitrogen, citronella plants rely on additional mobile nutrients like nickel, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. Iron is joined in the immobile nutrient category by zinc, calcium, boron, copper, and manganese.

Based on a soil sample, you can narrow down which nutrients are missing. You can also look for more indications of how a citronella leaf turns yellow. Nitrogen and potassium deficiencies appear in older leaves, for example. Still, while potassium chlorosis has a tendency to start on spaces between leaf veins and leaf edges, nitrogen chlorosis is consistent across the leaf and its veins.

Similarly, yellowing of new leaves could signal calcium or iron deficiency, but iron chlorosis is characterized by uniform yellowing with small, green veins.

Does too much sunlight cause the citronella plant to turn yellow?

Too much sun can cause a citronella plant to turn yellow. Because citronella is quite sensitive to sunlight, place it in a partially shaded area that receives at least six hours of sun during the day.

If a citronella plant receives too much sunlight, it can turn yellow, then brown and crispy.

If your citronella gets too much sunlight during the afternoon, you should move it where there is some afternoon shade. Neighboring plants can provide your citronella with sufficient shade.

If you live in zones 9b through 11, your citronella geraniums will survive year-round outdoors. These areas include most of the Southeast and the Southwest and California coastal areas of the United States. But if you live in a colder climate, you need to either leave it outside as an annual or bring your citronella indoors.

Does too little sunlight cause citronella plants turning yellow?

Citronella can turn yellow or brown if it isn’t getting enough light. The reason for the color change is that insufficient light results in low chlorophyll. And as a result, the citronella leaves will lose their green color and turn yellow or brown and will wilt.

If you notice droopy leaves, your plant gets too little sun.

Keep an eye on your citronella plant’s growth.

If you notice the citronella growing all its leaves toward the closest light source and stretching its leaves as near the light source, your plant isn’t getting sufficient sunlight.

Citronella plants can tolerate full sun. But, ideally, these plants prefer a lightly shaded area in your garden. Six to eight hours of sun is perfect for a citronella plant.

You can make sure your citronella gets enough light by placing a grow light beside it or moving it close to a windowsill. The correct position will give your citronella all the light it needs.

Grow lights are great during winter months or if your home is too dark for plants to get sufficient sunlight.

Does overwatering result in my citronella turning yellow?

Overwatering can turn your citronella plant yellow. Citronellas thrive in well-drained soil. If you soak the soil, you might kill your citronella. But before your kill your citronella, you will see the signs of overwatering. The leaves will turn yellow due to overwatering.

The roots of citronella plants hold a lot of water. Therefore, they don’t need huge amounts of moisture. Consequently, it’s easy to over-water citronella. As a result of overwatering, the leaves may produce brown spots or turn completely yellow or brown.

To avoid overwatering, check the soil for moisture. Insert your finger into the soil to check for moisture. And only if the soil is dry should you water the plant. But if the soil is moist to the touch, hold the water for a couple of days. Watering your plants only as needed will reduce the problems of overwatering.

If you’re worried about underwatering a citronella plant, make sure you water long enough for the soil to absorb the water. This will ensure that enough moisture reaches the roots of the citronella plant.

It’s not enough to just mist the soil surface.

Does poor drainage result in my citronella turning yellow?

Poor drainage can result in your citronella plant turning yellow. First, check the container to make sure it has drainage holes. In addition to drainage holes, make sure the water has a place to drain. Also, there should be a saucer under the pot. This is important because your plant will sit in water if your pot can’t drain.

If the pot doesn’t have drainage holes, you will need to transfer your citronella to a new pot or make some drainage holes. This is a must because citronella will not survive in a pot with no holes for water to escape.

Does compacted soil cause my citronella plant to turn yellow?

Soil that is overly compacted can turn your citronella plant yellow. You can easily test the soil with your finger. When you try to stick your finger in the soil, does it feel soft or compacted?

Tightly packed soil can’t drain properly. Also, heavily compacted soil makes it harder for your plant to grow. If you notice water sitting on top of the soil, your pot may have too compacted soil. And as a result, the water will evaporate from the top of the soil instead of soaking in, watering your plant.

You should loosen the soil with form or a sharp tool like a screwdriver. Another option is to re-pot your plant. If you decide to re-pot, choose a container that drains well, and then place your citronella plant back and see if it seems happier.

Does root-bound cause your citronella plant to turn yellow?

Root-bound can cause your citronella plant to turn yellow. For example, if your plant’s root runs out of room in its container, it may turn yellow. This is because root-bound places extra stress on citronella.

Your plant’s roots need space to spread. But when the roots are tightly coiled around each other, they won’t have access to the water and nutrients in the soil.

If you are unsure about how much space is inside the pot, you can easily check. First, gently ease your citronella plant out of its container and check the roots.

You can re-pot your citronella in a larger container to allow it to flourish and watch your yellow citronella return to a healthy green.

Final thoughts on citronella turning yellow

If your citronella leaves turn yellow or brown, you need to get to the bottom of the culprit. Check the moisture level of the soil, make sure the necessary nutrients are present in the soil, ensure the plant gets enough sun, and verify there are no drainage issues to make sure you understand why your citronella is turning yellow. Also, check the root system to ensure there isn’t a root bound.

Hopefully, one or more of these potential issues will help you reverse the yellowing of your citronella plant, and you’ll soon have your plant back to full health.