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Growing Luffa in the Garden

“I thought luffa was a sea sponge?!?!”  You’re not alone,  I did too, until I saw luffa (loofah) growing in the demonstration garden for the University of Arizona Master Gardeners.  Learn how to grow luffa also known as loofah,  a delicious vegetable to eat (when picked very young) or you can choose to let it grow and develop into a useful sponge.  

I decided to give it a try, and planted a few seeds, and ended up harvesting dozens of luffa sponges. Learn how to grow luffa and give growing luffa in the garden a try! 

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How to grow luffa : Plant luffa at the right time

Growing Luffa in the Garden How to grow luffa sponges #luffaseeds#lifecycle#howtogrowluffa#luffa#loofah#howtogarden#gardening#growingluffa#howto

Growing luffa (loofah) in the garden takes time, it often takes 8 months until the gourds are harvested as sponges. 

Plant luffa seeds in fertile soil after danger of frost has passed. (Seeds must be started indoors in Zones 6 and above.) Luffa seeds are available in my shop

In the low desert of Arizona:

  • Start seeds indoors: January 15 – March 15 and July 15 – August 15
  • Plant outside: Feb 15 – April 15 and August 15 – September 15

*does best directly sown

Luffa gourds grow on a vigorous vine (over 10 feet long). Be sure to give them plenty of room to grow and a trellis for support

Patiently wait for female flowers to appear

Female Luffa Flowers, Growing Luffa in the Garden How to grow luffa sponges #luffaseeds#lifecycle#howtogrowluffa#luffa#loofah#howtogarden#gardening#growingluffa#howto

Be patient… male flowers on the loofah plant will be the first to appear. They are beautiful flowers and the bees will love them.

After a while you will see what looks like a miniature luffa. These are the female flowers,  and once pollinated will develop into luffa gourds. 

Decide if you want to harvest a luffa squash or a sponge

Young Luffa Gourds, Growing Luffa in the Garden How to grow luffa sponges #luffaseeds#lifecycle#howtogrowluffa#luffa#loofah#howtogarden#gardening#growingluffa#howto

After pollination, small gourds will begin to grow. Harvest loofah when less than 6 inches long if you want to eat it.

Prepare these small luffa like you would a summer squash. It is delicious in stir-frys and when roasted.

Read here for more tips for growing summer squash.

Once it is longer than 6 inches, the insides become fibrous and it is too tough to eat. 

How to grow luffa: harvest the gourd at the correct time

Growing Luffa in the Garden How to grow luffa sponges #luffaseeds#lifecycle#howtogrowluffa#luffa#loofah#howtogarden#gardening#growingluffa#howto

When growing luffa in the garden for the sponge, leave it on the vine until it is yellow and feels lightweight and hollow. The skin will begin to shrivel and separate. 

  • The green gourd pictured on the left side of the photo should stay on the vine a little longer.
  • The brown one in the middle should be harvested and peeled right away, it may be brittle.
  • The one on the right is ready to harvest. It will be easy to peel and fibrous inside.

This luffa was harvested a little too early. The fibrous insides have not developed. If you have to harvest at this stage, store in a cool dry place until the gourd feels  lightweight and hollow. 

This luffa was harvested at just the right time. It’s easy to peel. Let it dry once you remove the peel. 

To harvest luffa seeds, cut off one end of dried luffa and shake the seeds out.

To remove seeds from a previously peeled luffa, allow the gourd to dry out and then shake out seeds. 

This luffa stayed on the vine a little too long. The fibrous insides have become brittle. It is still usable, but not as durable.  

How to grow luffa sponges #luffaseeds#lifecycle#howtogrowluffa#luffa#loofah#howtogarden#gardening#growingluffa#howto

Want more information about gardening in Arizona? This blog post shares 7 tips for  how to grow a vegetable garden in Arizona

Sharon Wilhelm

Sunday 10th of October 2021

This was my first time growing luffa sponge squash and i think i have harvested my to early they are light green about 12 inch long. My question are they a waste or will they be alright to go ahead and peel?

Angela Judd

Sunday 10th of October 2021

You could let them dry out and peel them but the insides will not be fully developed.


Thursday 8th of October 2020

I grew luffa this year, and the vine was huge and very healthy looking! I had two planted in a raised about 4 feet apart. I never had a single male flower even after adding a 15-30-15 bloom booster. What I did get were skinny 1mm wide long bean looking things that would grow 12+ inches long. After 200 days, I finally pulled it out. What did I do wrong? My plant had 10 hours of direct sunlight, and regular waterings.

Angela Judd

Thursday 8th of October 2020

Sounds like you had got some female flowers (the long bean things), but if you didn't have male flowers then they didn't get pollinated. That's a pretty strong fertilizer. I don't usually fertilize my luffa with too much. That's pretty frustrating. Sorry to hear that.


Saturday 3rd of October 2020

I have loofa on the vine right now I’m in MN and I am struggling to know when to harvest them. It hasn’t frozen yet but come close. They are still green but starting to yellow. What happens if I have to cut them before they are yellowing!!? Right because I shouldn’t let them freeze right ? And if I pick them what do I do with them when they are green? Allow them to sit and yellow?

Angela Judd

Sunday 4th of October 2020

Freezing will ruin them, so yes, bring them in before a freeze. Since they are starting to yellow, you may be ok. Keep them in a sheltered location until they yellow more. Hopefully at least some of the insides will be ready.


Sunday 8th of September 2019

Can the luffa plant thrive when planted in a pot?

Angela Judd

Monday 9th of September 2019

Sure. Just make sure it is at least a foot deep and wide (larger is even better). You will need to water and feed the container more frequently than a luffa planted in the ground, as water and nutrients will drain out of the container.

Cindy Ortega

Thursday 18th of July 2019

Is beginning of August too late to plant luffahs?

Angela Judd

Friday 3rd of January 2020

If there is an early frost it may be too late, but if not you should be fine.