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Sponge luffa        

Luffa aegyptiaca

  • 55 plantings
  • 21 for swap
  • 16 wanted
  • 86 stashed

Belonging to the Luffa genus, Sponge luffa has a botanical name of Luffa aegyptiaca.

The luffa is a fast growing, vigorous annual vine that requires a trellis to grow on. Plant it in rich soil in full sun. Tender, immature fruits can be peeled and cooked, resembling zucchinis in taste. The stem tops, young leaves and flower buds can be steamed as vegetables and the seeds roasted with salt and eaten. For use as a sponge allow the luffa to ripen on the vine until the stem yellows and the skin begins to turn brown. After cutting they should be dried for two weeks until the skin hardens, then open the large end and shake out the seeds. Soak the sponges overnight before peeling off the outer skin and standing in th sun to dry. Luffa sponges are used in the bathroom as body scrubbers and in the kitchen to scrub vegetables and wash pots.

Source: Green Harvest

Smooth loofah is a rampant, fast growing annual vine that produces pretty yellow flowers and strange looking fruits that are edible when immature and used as back scrubbers or sponges when fully mature. The vine can get more than 30 ft (9 m) long and scrambles over anything in its path. The large leaves are lobed and have silvery patches on the topsides. The flowers are showy and conspicuous, about 2-3 in (5-7.6 cm) across with five petals. The fruits are green, up to 24 in (61 cm) long and 3 in (7.6 cm) in diameter; they are cylindrical and smooth, and shaped like a club, slighter wider on one end. Small fruits look like okra or little cucumbers. On older fruits, the outer skin eventually dries and turns brown and papery.

Loofahs grow like weeds. They need little more than a sunny spot and something to climb on. Once the vines get 6-10 ft (1.8-3 m) long, they start producing male flowers. Usually within a few more days they start producing female flowers which are recognizable by the enlarged ovary at the base of the petals. The ovary will become the fruit if the flower gets pollinated. 1

Luffa is often grown for its fibrous core 3 which can be used as a sponge.

Luffa is possible to grow in cooler climates but it will require protection to prolong the growing season

Blooms appear in these approximate colours:   Painter yellow and   Cadmium yellow and   Mikado yellow. When mature, blooms are roughly 6.0 cm (that's 2.34 inches in imperial) in diameter. The mature flowers take a single form, with an approximate petal count of 5. When ripe, fruit appear in these approximate colours:   Android robot green and   Forest green (web). Leaves appear approximately as a   Ao green and   La Salle Green

It is a flowering edible vegetable / ornamental that typically grows as an annual, which is defined as a plant that matures and completes its lifecycle over the course of a single year.

Sponge luffa is known for its vinelike habit and growing to a height of approximately 8.00 metres (26.00 feet). This plant tends to bloom in mid summer, followed by first harvests in early winter.

This plant is a great attractor for bees, so if you are looking to attract wildlife Sponge luffa is a great choice.

Due to how easy it is to grow in a variety of conditions, Sponge luffa is great for beginner gardeners and those that like low maintainance gardens.

This plant info is provided by the myfolia gardener's wiki. All details about Sponge luffa have been kindly provided by our members.

How to grow Sponge luffa

  • Full Sun

  • Medium

This plant requires a tall trellis to climb.
It can be raised in pots or grow bags in cooler climates under protection. A good way of doing this is to allow it to take over the cold frame or small plastic greenhouse, the shelving providing support

Try to plant in a location that enjoys full sun and remember to water moderately. Use Zone 11 - Zone 14 as your guideline for the appropriate climate for this plant. Keep in mind when planting that Sponge luffa is thought of as tender, so remember to wait until your soil is warm and the night time temperature is well above freezing before moving outside.

See our list of companion Plants for Sponge luffa to see which plants you should plant in close proximity to encourage growth.

Growing Sponge luffa from seed

In cool areas start indoors 2 weeks before planting out. Outdoors sow three seeds per hill in hills 1m/3’ apart.

Requires soil temp of between 19-22C and moisture to sprout. Keep moist until true leaves appear.

Try to aim for a seed spacing of at least 3.9 inches (10.0 cm) and sow at a depth of around 0.78 inches (2.0 cm). Soil temperature should be kept higher than 20°C / 68°F to ensure good germination.

By our calculations*, you should look at sowing Sponge luffa about 28 days before your last frost date .

Transplanting Sponge luffa

Direct sowing is better. Otherwise pot up when seedling has three true leaves. In cooler climates it is possible to raise Luffa with the protection of a cold frame, cloche or greenhouse

As Sponge luffa is tender, ensure temperatures are mild enough to plant out (around 19°C / 66°F as a guideline) - wait until after your last frost date to be on the safe side.

Harvesting Sponge luffa

For a soft sponge harvest luffas when they are green, for a tougher sponge wait until the outer skin is yellow and dry. You can harvest anytime after a space can be felt between the skin and the sponge inside, and the luffa is lighter in weight. You should also be able to hear seeds rattling around inside.

To prepare the luffa for use as a sponge, peel off the skin and wash under running water. Leave the luffa to dry in the sun. 2

Seed Saving Sponge luffa

The seeds are released as the luffa is prepared to be a sponge

How long does Sponge luffa take to grow?

These estimates for how long Sponge luffa takes to sprout, grow and harvest are from real observations from real gardeners, right around the world.

Start logging and journaling your observations to participate!

Days to Germination How long does it take Sponge luffa to germinate?
6 days

Average 6 days | Min 3 days | Max 18 days (11)

Days to Transplant How long until I can plant out Sponge luffa?
+ 20 days

Average 20 days | Min 15 days | Max 59 days (4)

Days to Maturity How long until Sponge luffa is ready for harvest / bloom?
+ 140 days

Average 140 days | Min 140 days | Max 140 days (1)

Total Growing Days How long does it take to grow Sponge luffa?
= 166 days

When should I plant Sponge luffa?

Our when to plant Sponge luffa estimates are relative to your last frost date.

Enter your frost dates and we'll calculate your sowing and planting dates for you!

When to sow The number of days to sow Sponge luffa before or after your last frost date.
28 days before Last Frost Date

Other names for Sponge luffa

Loofah, Smooth luffa, Sponge gourd, Vegetable sponge, Dishcloth gourd, Cee Gwa, Sze Gwa, Luffa gourd

Luffa cylindrica, Luffa aegyptiaca Mill.

Latest Sponge luffa Reviews

  • Very exciting! UK growers will need a cold frame or greenhouse.

    5 stars

    Motherhen about growing Luffa
  • For me; Hard to germinate but wildly successful with correct conditions. Warmth (19C soil) and moisture essential. Large, perfect loofahs in abundance. Some powdery mildew but not too affected. Great!

    4 stars

    massivemelons about growing Sponge luffa

See all Sponge luffa reviews and experiences »

Footnotes

1 Floridata

2 Dick Raymond, Joy of Gardening (Storey Publishing, 1982), 309.

3 Suzanne Ashworth, Seed to Seed (Decorah, Iowa: Seed Savers Exchange, 2002), 122.

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