How Do I Fix citronella (anti-mosquito plant) root rot? 🦟

By Kiersten Rankel

Jun 18, 20243 min read

Citronella (anti-mosquito plant)
  1. Yellow leaves and foul smell signal Citronella root rot.
  2. Prune damaged roots, then repot with well-draining soil.
  3. Adjust watering and airflow to prevent future rot.

Spotting the Trouble: Signs of Root Rot in Citronella

🚩 Visual Red Flags

Yellowing leaves and wilting are the plant's SOS. These symptoms suggest your Citronella is more than just unhappy—it's likely in the throes of root rot.

The sniff test is crude but effective. A foul, decaying smell wafting from the soil is a dead giveaway that root rot has crashed the party.

Root Inspection 101

To safely inspect your Citronella's roots, gently remove the plant from its pot. Think of it as a delicate archaeological dig—your mission is to uncover the truth without damaging the artifacts.

Interpreting root color and texture is straightforward: Healthy roots are firm and colored in shades of white or tan. If they resemble overcooked spaghetti and sport a dark, mushy appearance, it's a clear sign of root rot.

Potted Citronella plant with significant wilting and browning leaves.

First Aid for Citronella: Treating Root Rot

🏥 Surgical Precision

Pruning is critical when combatting root rot. Sterilize your shears or scissors before and after use to prevent spreading the infection. Snip off the yellow, wilted leaves, but don't get carried away—less than 50% is the golden rule. Now, for the roots: remove the mushy, brown offenders. It's like giving your plant a haircut after a bad dye job—only keep the healthy parts.

🌱 Fresh Start

Repotting is your plant's ticket to recovery. Ditch the old soil like last year's fashion; it's contaminated. Choose a new pot with drainage holes that put colanders to shame. Terracotta or ceramic pots are your best bet—they're breathable and promote drying. Fill it with a well-draining potting mix, and consider it your Citronella's new luxury condo.

💧 Water Wisdom

After repotting, your watering routine needs a makeover. Water thoroughly, then let the soil dry out before the next watering session. Think of it as intermittent fasting for plants—it's all about balance. Avoid waterlogging at all costs; Citronella's roots can't swim.

Potted Citronella plant on a balcony with some yellowing and browning leaves.

Building a Fortress: Preventing Future Root Rot

🏰 The Right Foundation

Selecting the perfect soil is like picking a mattress for your plant—it needs to be just right. A well-draining mix is non-negotiable. Perlite or sand can be your go-to additives, ensuring the roots aren't drowning in moisture. Think of it as setting up a cozy, breathable bed that doesn't cling to water.

💧 Watering Do's and Don'ts

Watering frequency needs fine-tuning like a vintage guitar. You want to hit the sweet spot where the top two inches of soil feel like a wrung-out sponge—moist but not soggy. Get into a rhythm; check the soil moisture daily. If it's dry, it's time to water. If not, step away from the watering can.

🌬 Circulation is Key

Good airflow is like giving your plant room to breathe. It's essential for keeping roots happy and preventing them from being a playground for pests. Make sure your Citronella isn't suffocating in stagnant air. Air circulation can be as simple as choosing a spot with a gentle breeze or using a fan on a low setting indoors.

Potted Citronella plant with some browning leaves on a wooden shelf.

Combat Citronella root rot by pruning and repotting, then rely on Greg's 🌱 custom reminders to adjust your watering routine for a healthy, mosquito-repelling comeback!