The loofah is a versatile sponge that can be used for bathing yourself or cleaning the house. Actually a type of gourd, the loofah is simple to grow if you have some room in your garden or a smaller space and a trellis.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Things you need
- Growing medium
- Paper towel
- Trellis, wall or tree
- Water and container
- Liquid soap
Purchase the seeds in the winter. Find them listed as sponge gourds, loofah gourds or dishrag gourds at websites like The Banana Tree, Luffa Info and Virtual Seeds.
Check your zone. Loofah sponge gourds like warm weather. They are perennials that require a long growing season. If you're north of the Mason-Dixon line, start the plant indoors a month before the last frost. Place the seed between 2 paper towels that are warm and damp to germinate.
Use a commercial growing medium as the soil and plant to a depth that is twice that of the seed size. Keep warm and moist. Once the plant has popped through the soil, make certain that it has plenty of light. A window can work, but a grow light is better.
Transplant outside after all danger of frost has passed. Put the plant in a sunny location with a trellis, tree or fence to climb. Make certain that the location has plenty of sun and objects to climb.
Train the vines to go where you want. The plant first gets yellow or orange flowers, and the long fruit appears when the flowers die. Let the fruit mature.
Pick the fruit and take it in when it turns a yellow-brown and feels much lighter. The gourd has a dried leathery skin when it's ready. If the gourds are sufficiently dry, you can shake them and hear the seeds move.
Cut off the blossom end of the sponge and allow the seeds to drop out. Soak in water several times, changing the water frequently. Wash in soapy water, and then soak in hot water for about 2 to 3 hours.
Bleach in a mild bleach and water solution for 15 minutes. This removes any brown spots on the sponge. Rinse thoroughly in clean cool water, making certain the bleach is removed. Sun dry or air dry and store.
Tips and warnings
- Save some of the seeds that you removed to restock your seed supply.
- Loofah may also be spelled as "luffa" or "lufah."
- Don't plant this near cucumbers, pumpkins, other gourds or squash. They will crossbreed.
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