How to Grow Your Own Sponge: Luffa


Dried luffa sponge
Photo by Nicole Wilkey

Luffa or matter the spelling, these make the best skin smoothing exfoliators in the shower and natural dish scrubbers in the kitchen! Raise your hand if you believe they come from the sea... No judgement here, most people believe them to be sea sponges. Would you believe me if I told you they are actually a gourd, and you can grow them too? Luffas are related to the cucumber family, grow on long vines that do great when trellised and are also edible when eaten while small and immature.

Luffas have a very long growing season, requiring 150-200 warm days to mature. So naturally they tend to be gown in areas such as Florida, Mexico and parts of Asia. Don’t be deterred though, if you have a trellis in your garden or along a fence that gets full sun, these gourds can be started indoors or in a greenhouse weeks before you intend to plant them out in a shorter growing season. I like to use arched hog panel trellises for the vines to climb and fill in with lush green leaves and bright yellow flowers. The gourds can then hang down as they mature, typically maturing in early to late fall. The vines grow to about 30 feet long, and while they can take a bit of time to get going, once they take off their growth rate is incredible.

Luffa on the vine
Photo by Nicole Wilkey

If you would like to eat them while still immature and before they become fibrous many do so up to about 6’’ in length, they are a popular ingredient in many Indian and Asian dishes. A fully mature luffa gourd can grow up to 24’’ in length before it begins to dry and mature on the vine.

Photo by Nicole Wilkey

1/27/2021 8:08:46 PM

I like to try growing gourds here in Daytona Beach area in yard

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