Did you know you can grow luffas in your garden? Luffa sponge plants are actually a gourd! How to grow and use loofah sponges and where to buy them.
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!
What is a luffa? The actual luffas you can buy at the store to use in the bath is what we are talking about. Luffas grow on a vine!
You can get some luffa seeds that the Little Sprouts harvested from their own luffas here. Remember, they are hard to germinate, so expect some not to.
How do you spell loofah?
(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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How to grow luffa
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.
How to plant luffa seeds
The first step in growing luffas is to plant luffa 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.
How long does it take for luffa to grow?
You might be wondering how long it takes for luffa to grow. In Oklahoma, I start mine in January and set them in the ground outside around April 15 or early May.
Plant the seeds 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.
Luffa seed germination
It can take anywhere from a week to two months for luffa seed germination. Gourds are notoriously hard 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 you get past this stage, you can grow luffa as long as you have heat.
Here are our luffa sprouts two weeks after germination.
How to grow loofah
Once your loofah 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 our experience. You can grow luffa in whatever kind of soil you wish, but in my experience, they like to have little care.
How much room does luffa sponge plant need 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.
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.
How to harvest luffa gourd
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.
How to peel luffa gourd
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 luffa 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.
You can cut luffa into smaller pieces so they are easier to use. They will cut with scissors but it’s hard to do, the best way is to cut the luffa with a serrated knife. I use a bread knife and it cuts them like butter.
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! For more information on how to care for your luffa, click here.
How to use an exfoliating luffa
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.
You can even make luffa soap, click on the link to find out how easy it is. 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 luffa 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 luffa growing 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 click on the link to find out more.
I hope you will try to grow luffa. Tell me about the most unusual thing you have enjoyed growing.
For more how to grow articles, click here:
Also, how to grow potatoes, how to grow dried beans, how to grow luffas, how to grow birdhouse gourds, how to grow cotton, how to grow sunflowers, how to grow Jerusalem artichokes and how to grow wheat.
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