How to Grow Luffas
Did you know you can grow your own luffas in your garden? Luffa sponge plants are actually a gourd! Luffa growing is so much fun and it’s easy too! Loofah seeds are hard to germinate and growing luffas takes a long growing season, but luffas are easy to grow if you have the right conditions.
How to Grow Luffas
During the gardening with kids class I took to learn how to grow food with kids, one of the speakers brought some luffa seeds to give us. She told us about how she grew them with her children and let us each take a few. I was so excited and took a couple of the seeds and set out to grow my own luffas. What an exciting adventure!
Get in the garden with kids!
We grow a large percentage of the food my family and my home daycare kids eat right here in the garden, WITH the preschoolers. If you want to find out how our gardening got real around here, click here.
Growing luffas (or loofahs)
The first step in growing luffas is to plant your seeds. The season for growing luffas is extremely long, so you need to expect to start your seeds extremely early and grow them indoors under a light sort of like a houseplant.
You could even grow them in your greenhouse. Click here for instructions to build your own.
In Oklahoma, I start mine in January and set them in the ground outside around April 15 or early May. Plant them about a half inch deep and water well. Luffa seeds are hard to germinate, so if you take some time and soak them in water for about 24 hours, they may sprout more easily for you. They need to grow a foot long or more before you plant them in the ground.
(If you’re wondering if luffa is the correct spelling, you can spell it that way, or loofah, either is correct, so spell it however you’d like.)
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Luffa seeds can be tough to germinate. It can take anywhere from a week to two months for them to sprout. The ones we planted two years ago took 6 weeks to germinate, and the ones we planted this year took one week. Be prepared to be patient.
Once your plants are about a foot long and all danger of frost has passed, plant them in the ground. I have found over the past 6 years that when I plant them in my hard clay soil, they do better than when I plant them in healthy loam with lots of compost. That’s just our experience.
Here are our luffa sprouts two weeks after germination.
Luffa sponge gourd plants need a lot of room to grow
Luffa vines will grow to around 30 feet long and need a strong trellis to grow on so be prepared to give them a sturdy home. We grow ours on our chain link fence. Luffa gourds also need 8 or more hours of sunlight a day to form the blooms and gourds.
More information on how to build raised beds, build a trellis for your plants, and basic gardening information you need is available here in these beginning gardening videos. Click here for more information. You can even download a tour of what types of beds we have in our preschool gardens for free.
For information on how to grow an easy garden, click here.
If you’re interested in the Back to Eden gardening method, click here.
The vine will flower and behind the flowers, the tiny luffas will start growing and continue to grow into a large gourd around a foot long.
Harvesting Loofah sponges
Once the luffas begin to turn yellow, they are ready to pick. You can wait until they turn brown to harvest them, but it will leave dark spots on the luffas, so if you want them to look nice and light, harvest them when they are yellow. As soon as you harvest them, pull the end of the gourd off and shake the luffa seeds out.
Each luffa makes an inordinate amount of seeds, so it will take some work to get them all out. If you want to save the seeds and grow them again or share them, you can just leave them to dry on a paper towel for a week or two.
Package them in an airtight container and store them in a cool, dry place. The luffa seeds I germinated this year are ones I saved two years ago and all of them sprouted, so they store well.
When you get most of the seeds out of the luffa, you can pull the peels off the sponge. They are very fibrous. It takes a little work to get them started, but once you do, most of the peel usually comes off in one piece.
You’ll end up with a big pile of thick skins, they can just go into the compost. The luffas are covered with a slimy wet substance that you can just rinse off.
Once they are clean and seed free, you can let them dry and store them in a dust free location. They will last for years. The first time we grew luffa gourds, we had three vines and ended up with almost 100 luffas. It was great fun and we use them for many uses.
How long will loofah’s last?
As long as it’s not sitting in water, one luffa will last for several months or even up to a year!
Uses for Luffas!
Luffas are great exfoliators for your skin. I keep one hanging in the shower. I have sensitive skin and I use my luffa in the bath with Tom’s natural soap.
You can exfoliate with it a few times a week or you can use it as a washcloth and wash your whole body with it.
I have seen homemade soaps online that contain luffa as well. Luffas are great for washing the car or scrubbing dishes as well. The possibilities are endless. Click here to see more ways to use the luffas you grow.
Growing luffas is a unique and interesting experience. The kids loved taking them home to their parents and we also did a Mom’s pampering party with them. Check out some of our Mom’s Night Out parties here. I have given them as gifts to many different people as well.
This project was one of the favorites with the kids. They were enamored at how huge the vines grew and the funny looking fruits luffas that grew on them. Kids learn so much by growing things if you want to read about some of the benefits, click here.
I hope you will try your hand at growing luffas. Tell me about the most unusual thing you have enjoyed growing. Seeds are available here. Thanks so much for reading.
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