Tips for Growing Loofahs (Luffas) for Sponges
Tips for growing your own loofahs! This spring plant luffa in your garden and have homegrown sponges by the end of summer.
Luffa sponges are something everyone has seen at one time or another, but no one is quite sure where they come from. I guess people assume that they are man-made or may be related to an ocean sponge, but the truth is you can grow them in your garden! Check out these tips for Growing Loofahs (Luffa) Sponges.
I originally wrote a post about loofahs in August 2010. I am excited to be updating it now in 2019!
What is a Luffa?
Technically it is called a Luffa, but many people misspell it. So much so, it has kind of stuck. A luffa is a vegetable that is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family. That is the scientific name for the gourd family of flowering plants. Cucumbers, gourds, melons, squashes, and pumpkins are all in the same family!
Luffas are interesting because you can harvest and eat it when the fruit is at a young age (supposed to be good in curries), or you can leave it on the vine to grow and dry out. By allowing the plant to age, this creates the fibrous network inside of the fruit that people use for sponges and scrubbers. That is why people call it a sponge gourd or luffa gourd.
What Zones can grow Loofahs?
Typically zones 7 and higher can grow loofahs with no problem. They need a long growing season to mature enough on the vine to create the fibrous insides. Some zone 6’s may get lucky and be able to grow them if started early indoors.
Where to get Luffa Seeds?
In the spring and summer when hardware stores have the seed packets out, you can typically find them with the other vegetable seeds. You can also order your Luffa seeds from amazon if you are having a hard time finding them! I found mine at Home Depot with the other seed packets.
Tips for Growing loofahs
I have grown loofahs several times now. The biggest tips I can give you for a successful crop is this.
Give them a sturdy trellis and room to spread out.
These plants love to vine and spread out as much as possible. This helps the pollinators get to their beautiful yellow flowers and maximizes your yield at the end of the season. These vines send out little tendrils that will grab onto just about anything they are perfect along a fence line.
They also love full sun, and thrive on compost.
Loofahs love water. I think that is why they do well here in Florida. If we haven’t had rain for a day or two, I will turn the sprinkler on them for a little while. They need plenty of water and well-draining soil.
I consider the loofahs to be a low maintenance plant. Knock on wood, but I haven’t had a problem with pests on my loofah plants. Although some do say that they tend to get cucumber beetles or powdery mildew. Keeping a little be of spacing and good air circulation helps prevent the downy mildew.
I do put fertilizer in with the seeds when starting the plants and then once a month I do give them a bit of liquid fertilizer to help them continue to grow.
When to Harvest Loofahs
This photo was from the first year I grew loofahs. I did not have enough space set up for them. As the summer heat starts to pick up in August, you will notice your vines begin to fade. Allow the loofahs to stay on those vines for as long as possible. This will help them dry out naturally. Once the fruits feel lighter and begin to yellow, you can pick them.
Allow them to sit in a cool, dry place for a few days to dry out even more. The peel should become brittle and easily flake off when it does. You can peel your luffas.
What is left is a fibrous spongey structure that can be stored and used for years. There will also be seeds inside. Be sure to remove them and save them for next year or share them with a friend.
How Many sponges do you get per plant?
That depends on the environment you give your plant. Each vine could yield up to a dozen or more loofah sponges. Realistically I would say to expect six good sized loofahs per vine.
Once you have harvested your loofahs, you can cut them in pieces, so they are more manageable and last longer too! We have even added them to hand soaps.
The vines are full of beautiful yellow flowers that open in the morning and close during the heat of the day! They must have very sweet pollen because first thing in the morning my yard is buzzing with bees, ants, hummingbirds, butterflies, etc.
Wherever you choose to plant your loofahs be prepared for a wall of yellow flowers! This is also a great location to hang up a hummingbird feeder. They are a great way to attract hummingbirds to your yard. (learn more tips for attracting hummingbirds here)
How to Use Loofahs
Now that you have grown your loofahs, you can use them for so many things.
- These are great to replace plastic scrubbers in the shower.
- Cut them up and use them in hand soaps.
- Use them to scrub dishes in place of sponges.
- Any sponge or scrubber use…these can do.
That’s so cool! Where do you get the plant/seeds?
Melissa. I just bought them at home depot, with my other seeds. They are really easy to find!
I have grown them for years and they are so fascinating to me! They love to vi e and drink a lot of water! I had them on a trellis round my outside shower! After you peel and seed them you can stand them in a glass and make your own specialty soap, pour into the holes, when it hardens you can just slice it to your desired thickness and have your soap and sponge all together! I’ve seen these little slices in specialty shops sell for $5-$6 all wrapped in pretty paper with a bow 🥰
I had no idea you could grow a loofah! I always thought they grew in the sea like a sponge! LOL Very cool:)
haha ~ me, too!! I can’t wait to give these a try. :o)
What? Seriously? That is so neat. I never knew that!
Silly question but at Homedepot are they just called “Loofah seeds”? 🙂 LOL! Homemad soaps are SOO easy and tons of fun! I love making the glycerin soaps w/toys for my kids- they are awesome!
Yep! It says it right on the package! They are in the same family with cucumbers and zucchini. By the way, You don’t want to plant them near cucumber or zucchini, or squash. Apparently they can cross breed. Not pretty 🙂
That is totally cool, i to though they maybe came from the ocean like the sponges. Had no idea you grow them. You always have great stuff.
I too thought they were from the sea. I’m totally growing these in my garden next year! Pampering presents for everyone next Christmas!
That is awesome!
How long do they last?
I really don’t know. You can use them in the shower till they wear out. I am sure if you stored them dry and unused they would last quite a long time! 🙂
So cool! I have to admit that I thought they were a sponge from the sea also. 😉
I’d love to know more about what you grow in your garden. I’m in FL also and always wonder what could possibly stand up to this heat. The loofahs look easy, they may be my test crop. 🙂
How Funny (: This is by far the most coolest thing I’ve learned all week!
this is so cool! I didnt know you could grow them either. I thought theu were something more exotic! I think I may try to grow my won next year!
WOW, WOW, WOW
I will SO be growing these next summer. lol
I know this is a stupid question but exactly what are luffas used for and how do you use them? I know someone mentioned using them in the shower so I’m assuming they are similar to an exfoliant. Can you still use these if you have very thin sensitive skin?
They are used like a shower scrubber. They are great for exfoliating. You can even make soaps with them.
How many seeds do you put in the grownd? I have about 20 seeds. Can i Put them all in a pot of 50/50 Cm?
I would plant 3 seeds per pot. I have had a very high success rate with these.
What is the best way to remove the seeds in the triangle seed pods on the inside? It seems they are very hard comes loose.
Great question Cynthia! Let the loofah dry out completely. Then before you peel it hit it hard against a surface (like the edge of a counter). This jars the seeds loose so when you peel it they should just shake out.
Thank you for this great article! I just got ahold of exactly SEVEN (7) loofah seeds and was not sure exactly how to grow them. I’m excited! You have some good info about it here😀 the little guys are soaking right meow. Question: can these be grown indoors or is it not practical due to their vinyness? Just curious…
Just not practical. They need to be grown outside. They get really big.
I’m in FL as well! Do you think they would grow on a trellis mounted on an East facing wall? Trying to keep them away from my other squashes in my garden?
Yes, they should do well. They don’t seem to be too picky.