Loofah Plant: How To Grow It, Clean It, Care Tips + More

The luffa plant.

Loofahs, also called loofas or luffas, are tropical vines within the cucumber household. Two of the commonest species are Luffa aegyptiaca from Asia, usually harvested for meals, and Luffa acuntangular from Northern Africa, which is normally harvested for its dry sponge.

All luffa is native to scorching, tropical locales, so this can be a sun-loving plant that can develop finest in hotter climates. And develop it can. When a luffa vine is blissful in its atmosphere, it could actually attain 30-plus ft excessive and produce 50 giant gourds (1 to 2 ft tall every), and a plethora of pollinator-friendly yellow flowers, in a single season.

Luffa can take as much as 200 days to supply gourds, although, so endurance is essential with this plant. Once you do see gourds, you’ll be able to both decide them as ripe fruit or depart to dry on the vine and use them as sponges.

This vigorous vine must be planted close to a trellis or barrier that’s robust sufficient to help the burden of its considerable harvest.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sunlight wants:

Prefers vibrant, direct solar

When to water:

Every week, as soon as established


Produces edible fruit & sponges, has fairly yellow flowers, resilient and enjoyable to look at develop


Might overtake close by vegetation, exhausting to develop in colder climates

Where to place them:

In a big sunny spot, away from different vines


Yes, however dried luffa gourds would possibly upset a pet’s tummy in the event that they get into them


Vines can develop 20-plus ft tall


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How to plant & develop it.

You can snag some luffa seeds out of your native nursery or purchase them on-line. With any luck, you may solely have to make the acquisition one time since every luffa gourd holds as much as 350 seeds of its personal.

Since luffas are sun-loving vegetation, gardeners who stay in USDA zones 7 and above can have essentially the most luck with them, explains Sarah Barbosa, a homesteader and luffa vendor residing in Texas. While she notes that these in colder zones (right down to about zone 5) will be capable to develop luffa, their vegetation will not produce as many wholesome gourds.

Those in colder climates may also want to start out rising their seeds indoors or in a mini greenhouse, round eight to 12 weeks earlier than spring begins of their space. Expect germination to take round 21 days. Once your remaining frost hits, you’ll be able to put your germinated luffa within the floor beneath a sturdy trellis or construction that it could actually climb.

Barbosa discovered the exhausting approach {that a} flimsy trellis will be unable to hold the burden of this vine because it matures. She now makes use of cattle panels made out of super-strong galvanized metal to carry up her expansive luffa backyard. Florida-based luffa grower Jeannie Schmidle has additionally had success setting her luffa up subsequent to a longtime patch of black bamboo.

“It’s a very prolific plant—but you have to have the space,” provides Barbosa, who recommends leaving no less than a number of ft of area on all sides of your luffa patch so it could actually unfold its lush, inexperienced vines. Since luffa has a reasonably compact root system, you’ll be able to plant a number of of its seeds fairly shut collectively, a couple of foot aside.

Caring for the plant.

Barbosa and Schmidle say that when your luffa is within the floor, you should not must do a lot to maintain it blissful—particularly when you stay in a scorching local weather. Just preserve these care suggestions in thoughts:


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Sunlight & Temperature:

It’s practically unimaginable to provide this plant an excessive amount of warmth and daylight. “You can grow it on the sun if you really tried. It will take the heat,” Barbosa jokes.

“The only downside on the other end is that it will die in frost,” she provides, so you actually need to attend till all risk of frost has handed in your space earlier than planting your luffa in a spot in your backyard that will get loads of direct daylight.

It’s additionally necessary to notice that luffa vegetation have an extended rising season; it could actually take about 200 days for them to be prepared to select. This is another excuse that these in climates which can be heat for extra of the 12 months can have extra success with this plant.


Shmidle notes that luffa vegetation take pleasure in moist soil, however they’re fairly drought-resistant. Once you first put it within the floor, it tends to want extra water, however as soon as its vines actually begin rising, you may get away with watering it as soon as each week or so.


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Space necessities:

“Because it’s a vigorous vine, it loves to climb—and it can climb really fast,” Shmidle says. “You have to give it space.”

You do not need to put your luffa close to every other vining vegetation, as it could actually simply overtake them. Barbosa says you could develop smaller vegetation beneath your luffa trellis, although, comparable to tomatoes and herbs.

“Luffa is one of those crops that once it’s growing, there is no real rhyme or reason to where it grows,” she says, so she and Schmidle each suggest desirous about your first season with it as a trial-and-error interval that may give you a way of this distinctive crop’s wants.

When the plant is able to be harvested.

Your luffa plant ought to first begin to flower after about 90 days within the floor, and 90 days after that’s when the fruit comes into play. So when you plant your luffa in April, you have to be prepared to reap in September.

A mature luffa gourd is about 1 to 2 ft in size, and it resembles a big cucumber. At first, these gourds are darkish inexperienced in coloration, and as they dry out, they are going to go from darkish inexperienced to gentle inexperienced to yellow to darkish brown.

Image by narcisa / iStock


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If you’re rising luffa to eat, you may need to harvest it throughout that early darkish inexperienced stage, whereas the fruit feels tender to the contact. At this level, it ought to nonetheless be moist sufficient that it is nice to eat. The longer your luffa stays on the vine, the dryer it can grow to be. Those who’re rising for loofah sponges ought to wait till the fruit is completely brown. If your gourd falls off the vine earlier than this level, you’ll be able to place it out within the solar for a number of days till it dries out fully.

Once your loofah is dry, you’ll be able to take away the underside tip of it and shake out the treasure trove of seeds saved inside. Then, to get to the fibrous, spongy materials, Barbosa recommends soaking your loofah in water for a couple of minutes, till the robust outer husk simply peels off.

If you discover any slimy sap in your sponge, Schmidle says you’ll be able to soak it in a mixture of 50/50 water and vinegar, give it a very good scrub, and depart it out within the solar for an additional few days till it is clear, dry, and able to use.

Using the loofah at dwelling.

Loofah sponges are tender on the skin and a bit rougher within the center, making them an important software for all kinds of duties round the home. Here are a number of ways in which Barbosa and Schmidle use their haul:

  • Personal care: Cut your loofah with scissors or a serrated knife to make exfoliating sponges you should use to use to your face or physique wash.
  • Cleaning: Use your loofah as a pure sponge to scrub flooring, dishes, or exhausting surfaces.
  • Crafting: Swap artificial foam with loofah in artwork initiatives, or use the plant materials as an alternative choice to pesky packing peanuts.
  • Gardening: Cut out the center of your loofah and use it as a biodegradable starter for seedlings.
  • Farming: Barbosa donates any loofah she is not in a position to make use of to a neighborhood pig rescue. Turns out, some livestock love munching on the fibrous materials.
  • Decorating: Loofah resembles a sea sponge when dry, and might make for a lovely nature-inspired dwelling show.

dried loofah sponge in wicker bowl on brown table

Image by memorystories / iStock

Luffa husk may also be used as a mulch materials or soil modification. And any a part of the plant you do not find yourself utilizing may be tossed in your compost pile.

Eating the luffa.

Once you’re taking your inexperienced luffa off the vine, take away the pores and skin with a vegetable peeler and minimize into the fruit to reveal the white, seeded flesh inside. It will resemble a cucumber however be barely softer to the contact. Barbosa says the style is someplace between a cucumber, zucchini, and okra.

“You can eat it raw like a cucumber, or you can saute it like a zucchini,” she notes. “Even eating it, you can enjoy it in a multitude of ways!” Many Asian cultures additionally incorporate luffa into soups and stews, and Schmidle provides that she’s heard it is tremendous tasty pickled.

The takeaway.

If you reside in a heat local weather and have a sunny yard, the versatile, edible, low-maintenance luffa is looking your title. Those in cooler climates would possibly discover this plant trickier to take care of, however hey—you might all the time attempt a pineapple plant or avocado tree as an alternative.

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