Aromatic Plants

Citronella java(Cymbopogon winterianus)


  • The essential oil of citronella java is widely used in soaps, incense sticks, mosquito repellent creams and deodorants for improving their odour, and perfumes. The oil is also extensively used for extracting aroma chemicals citronellol, citronellal and geraniol.
  • Citronella java is cultivated in Assam, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and other states. It is perennial, aromatic grass, growing to a height of 90 - 180 cm. Light or medium, deep, well drained soils with good fertility are ideal for citronella.
  • In areas with well distributed rainfall, this can be cultivated as rainfed crop. This can be cultivated throughout Andhra Pradesh as an irrigated crop.


  • Medini, Manjari, Jalpallavi, Bio-13, Mandakini and Manjusha are improved varieties of citronella java. Java-11 is an old and established variety.


  • Citronella is propagated through rooted slips obtained from old and healthy plants.
  • The land is prepared to good tilth by ploughing, harrowing and planking. The crop can be planted on flat beds or in furrows or on ridges.
  • 10 tonnes of FYM, 375 kg single superphosphate and 100 kg muriate of potash per hectare are applied basally.
  • The slips are planted during rainy season in planting holes made at a spacing of 60 cm between the rows and 45 cm between plants (370000 slips/ha) and the soil aroind them is pressed to avoid lodging of slips during irrigation.
  • If rains are erratic, the field is irrigated at 3 day intervals during first month and at 7 day intervals thereafter. After establishment of plants, irrigation schedule is adjusted depending on water holding capacity of the soil and weather conditions.

Interculture - Fertilizers

  • The field is kept weed free for the first 3 - 4 months after planting.
  • Similarly, weeding is done after on month after every harvest. During the initial phases of crop growth, short duration legumes can be grown as intercross, therby the profit can be increased.
  • The crop is fertilized with 40 and 60 kg urea per hectare 30 and 90 days after planting respectively.
  • For each harvest 100 kg urea is applied in two equal splits. In Zinc deficient soils, 25 - 50 kg zinc sulphate per hectare is applied.
  • Micronutrients and growth regulators may be sprayed for each harvest.

Plant protection

  • The plants are sometimes affected by yellowing and leaf crinkling disease. In this disease the young leaves are twisted and crinkled.
  • This disease is more in summer season. The affected plants are sprayed with 0.1% monochrotophos at weekly intervals.
  • As a manure to avoid attack of this disease. Monocrotophos may be sprayed from February onwards at 15 - 20 days intervals. Thimmet @ 7 kg per hectare can also be applied.
  • Some slips die of root rot in areas which tend to waterlog. Water-logging is to be prevented and drainage is to be created in such areas.

Harvesting - Profits

  • First harvest is taken within 6 months after planting.
  • Subsequent harvests are obtained 3 - 4 months intervals for 3 - 4 years.
  • The dead and dried leaves and tillers are removed at least once in a year to encourage growth of fresh tillers. Citronella yields 200 - 300 kg oil and net profit for Rs. 35.000 - 52,000 per hectare per year.


  • The oil is extracted from the entire plant using a distillation unit consisting of a distillation tank, a condenser and a separator.
  • Freshly harvested grass as such or after cutting into small pieces is loaded into the distillation tank. After closing the lid tightly, steam is passed into the tank. Steam and the oil vapour condense into liquid in condenser and are collected in separator.
  • The oil is taken out, cleaned and stored either in aluminium containers or amber coloured bottles. The recovery of oil from grass ranges from 0.3 - 0.6 per cent. It takes about 4 hours for complete recovery of the oil.