How to Grow Your Own Loofah Sponge

You ’ ve probably had or used a loofah sponge in your animation, whether in the bath or for cleaning around the family. But did you know it was made from a vegetable ? While much of the selling of loofa shows the sponge in a seaside place setting, surrounded by seashells and the like, loofahs are not the remains of an oceanic creature ( unlike sea sponges ). They ’ re the hempen human body of the mature luffa gourd — and you can grow them in your dwelling garden. Luffa, a.k.a. loofa or loofa, refers to two species of gourd : Luffa aegyptiaca ( the angled loofa, ridged loofa, chinese okra, or vegetable gourd ) and L. acutangular a.k.a. L. cyclindrica ( the fluent luffa, egyptian loofa, dishrag gourd, or gourd loofa ). Angled luffa has long ridges running the duration of the fruit while fluent loofa has a libertine visibility, with shoal creases running the length of the fruit. The species are used pretty much interchangeably and both are vigorous annual vines with flamboyant yellow flowers. Luffas belong to the Cucurbitaceae or gourd family, along with their somewhat distant cousins squashes, watermelons, cucumbers, melons, and the hard-shelled gourds. In this area, luffas are normally grown for loofa sponges so the fruits are allowed to mature on the vine until they turn jaundiced or brown, and then peeled to reveal the matrix of hard hempen tissues inside that act as fantastic natural sponges. Luffa-derived sponges are street fighter on dirt but non-abrasive and perfect for washing your face, consistency, dishes, floor, or car. Crafters evening use slices of the dried sponge in soaps to create pretty and utilitarian all-in-one luffa soap rounds.

But in many other parts of the world the flower bud, flowers, and very youthful fruit ( which taste reasonably much like summer squash ) go in salads and other dishes. In your own garden, it ‘s a fantastic way to use fruits that form besides late to mature into sponges before frost hits .

Planting Luffa

Luffas like full sun and a well-drained but damp territory, enriched with enough of compost or well-rotted manure. They are grown like a winter squash or hard-shelled gourd and their long ( 30 feet international relations and security network ’ t unusual ) vigorous vines need lots of room to roam or a sturdy trellis to clamber over .


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Luffas need a long season to ripen ( 150 to 200 warm days ) therefore in more northern areas of the area most gardeners start seeds in 5- or 6-inch pots inside a few weeks before plant clock time and then transplant them outdoors once the weather is warm and settled .

Finding Luffa Seed

Your local anesthetic nursery or garden center may carry luffa seeds, or you can regulate them online from places like, Burpee, or the sustainable Seed Company. Kitazawa Seed Co. offers angled loofa cultivars and smooth loofa cultivars and Evergreen Seeds offers more than 10 different cultivars ( some of each species ) !

Harvesting Luffa for Sponges

To harvest luffa gourds for making loofah sponges, let them wither on the vine.

To use luffa gourds for making loofah sponges, allow them to wither on the vine before harvesting.

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The very first fruits that appear on the vine should be allowed to mature into sponges. They ‘re mature and ready to pick when the green peel has turned dark chicken or brown and starts to separate from the fiber inside, and the fruit feels lightweight. Leave fruit hanging on the vine ampere long as possible for maximal sponge fiber development, but be indisputable to pick and peel the fruit immediately if they get hit by frost. fruit that doesn ’ t amply mature with enough sturdy fiber to make a good sponge are best tossed in the compost .

Peeling and Processing Luffa Sponges

How to peel a dried luffa gourd to make a loofah sponge.

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The first step to revealing your sponge is to peel off the sturdy out skin. If it is already cracked you can pull it off in pieces. If it is intact, try squashing the fruit gently until cracks appear and then extending the cracks by squeezing the fruit and pull at the tear edges of the peel with your thumbs. If the skin is very dry, soaking the fruit in water system for a few minutes may make it easier to dislodge. once the skin has been removed, shake out the seeds ( if they are fatten, spread some on a composition towel and dry them at room temperature for a few days, and save them for planting future year ). then wash the fool out of the sponge with a potent jet of water or in a bucket of water with a little dishwashing soap. If there are iniquity spots, you can treat a sponge with a non-chlorine laundry bleach to get a more uniform tan color. ultimately, dry the washed sponges in the sunday, turning them frequently, until wholly dry. memory in a fabric udder to prevent them from getting cold and they will keep for years .

Using Luffa Sponges

Loofah on a rope

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You can use your luffa sponges whole, cut out flat sections from the out level for scrub pads, or cut them into crosswise slices to make smaller scrubbies ( these can besides be cast into bars of soap ). In some areas, the dry fiber is besides used to make filters, table mats, insoles, sandals, and other products. Dermatologists recommend making certain that your luffa gets completely dry between uses and only using a loofa scrabbly for three or four weeks before replacing it with a newly one and tossing the honest-to-god one in the compost. alternatively, you can soak your favorite loofa in a load bleach solution once a week, to keep it from becoming a microbe hotel .

Harvesting Luffa for Eating

Angled Loofah Sponge gourd

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Luffa flower bud, flowers, and small fleeceable fruits can be picked ( use a sharply knife or hand pruner if the stem doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate snap easily ) and eaten. They resemble summer squash in flavor. This is a fantastic use for flowers or fruits that appear after mid-summer, as they will not have time to mature into sponges before frost hits. Flowers and very new fruit can be enjoyed crude, or sautéed in a little oil, sliced in a stir-fry, cooked in soup, stews, or curries, or breaded and fried. ( Try them in place of squash blossoms, or in this simpleton recipe for stir-fried loofa with ginger from Grace Young. ) They contain lots of vitamin A, manganese, potassium, copper, vitamins B5 and B6, and vitamin C, according to the USDA .
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