My Adventures in Growing Luffa – From Seed to Sponge!

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU.

Growing luffa can be a lot of fun and then thee’s the eponymous sponges that we’ve also seen and no doubt used.Have you ever thought about actually growing your own? Great, as I’d love to tell you all about my own foray into this. As an amateur with one season of luffas under my belt and the second one in the making, I’ll tell you all about what I experienced, and you can see for yourself that this is a sight to behold when you see those big gourds emerging.

It may come as no surprise that they belong to the same family as squashes and pumpkins, and cucumbers too, So the process will be similar. Not only are they prized for the sponges, bu in their early stages of growth, they are edible too! You’ve probably seen both spellings “luffa” and “loofah” is also known as the silk squash in some Asian countries and used as a culinary addition to flavor soups and stir-fry.

Pin for Later?

growing luffa

 

But a few things first. Yes, you don’t need a ton of space to grow luffa gourds BUT you do need to have a lot of support. These are vining plants and when the fruits get big they are going to be heavy as they can get up to 30″ from base to stem. You may want to think about one of those arched trellisis.

How exciting it must be to walk through it with those big mighty gourds hanging above you/ We were lucky and smart too as we planted ours in a bed that we staked out two feet from the fence so the vines could spread out over it. Also be sure you have the right growing conditions where you live….they thrive in warmer climates with a lot of sun.

Starting Luffa Seeds

Although our first season batch we began outside and direct sown, it is probably a better idea to start the seeds indoors. This spring we’ve started them pretty early, which is a smart way to go as luffas have a pretty long period of growth that needs to take place before they can become sponges…a ballpark period is about 150-200 days. We started around January with fours seeds in cups as it turned out only one sprouted.

This past few weeks we’ve been re-seeding new ones in trays and cups . When the seeds stat to sprout they have a pattern with two round leaves and one in the middle that is kind of jaggedy on the sides. The seeds are black and look a lot like watermelon seeds. Your best bet may be to find them online as we did. Keep the seeds moist and under grow lights for awhile. The small image is a sprouted seedling, the bigger one a cluster.

young luffa seedlings

In all honesty, I think the cluster seedlings that did more “outdoor time” flourished more than the ones we started this past winter with the Solo cups.

This year it’s going to be the first week in April no doubt. Since Easter was the last week in March and usually Easter is my benchmark for the last frost, but this year it appears to av been later. So we are still caring for ours at the moment.On warm period before planting a good idea to harden them off for a few days.

They need to be in a good place with adequate moisture and light as you should hold off on finally setting them outdoors until the last frost has passed.

Germination Period

The vines will develop outside as the days get warmer. Luffa gourds need a lot of sun, at least 6 hours a day, to flourish. The soil should be adequately drained. Wherever you decide to crate your plot make sure as I said earlier it has a lot of support. We’re thinking about building a new structure or turning an existing one into one for this purpose. This is how our first plants looked as they developed and grew up the fence.

luffa vines climbing

You may also notice pretty yellow flowers that emerge from the vines. They are reminiscent of those on cuke plants, Bees and other pollinators will enjoy this as well as will you.

Small Fruits are Edible

At the start, you’ll notice that smaller gourds are developing, they will be green in color and look like cucumbers, (Well, they are in the same family!) You can very well pick them as at this stage of the game they are edible and can be sliced and eaten raw. Add them to your salad just like you would cucumbers.

You may not need to peel them either as they will be hard to do and if they are short in length, say 6″ or less it will not be necessary. But the beauty of this is you can just leave them alone and let them continue their growth.

Maturity

The gourds that bear the sponges are actually matured gourds. They will be very large. We saw two of them out of nowhere, they had been growing for sometime as we’d kind of forgotten about them, the vines crawled around the fence and a bush in the corner. We made sure to collect them, as it was sometime in the fall and a freeze or frost was anticipated that night so I went out there to cut them off. They were respectively 17″ and 22″ in length.

two loofah gourds

Check ’em out …Beautiful…They’re hidden by the foliage, but that’s them.at’s our debut, anyway…I called them “the twins”

How to Harvest Your Sponges

Then came the fun part, letting them dry out, which took about a week, The outside layer started to look shriveled in appearance. They also will feel lighter, this is how you know their flesh is becoming soft enough for sponges. I let them sit in the window for awhile to fully dry out.

They I took up a small paring knife and cut from the top lengthwise, carefully. Also cut off the stem. That was something right there. Peel the outer layer off slowly.

luffa sponge and gourd drying out

And do you know what? Not only do you have fully developed sponges, you may also find seeds remain inside too! I got a bunch of them out of these two, which I hope to plant. So once you eviscerate those prized sponges don’t forget to collect as many of the seeds as you can.

There you have it, this is the gift that keeps on giving. I notice that the seeds look different from the original ones I planted, they are white instead of black.

That’s what they look like, the shape and sizes may vary, of course they will all be different.

luffa sponges with seeds

A Few More Words..

Do you know someone who could use a good homemade gift of a bath sponge made from homegrown loofah? This would be a great idea. Hope my second season will be even more fruitful, And don’t forget to save the seeds too!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top