“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,  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 in the garden takes time, it can be over 120 days until the gourds are harvested. 

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 from SeedsNow.com.

In the low desert of Arizona plant luffa from MarchApril and again in late August – mid September.

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 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 luffa 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 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 overview

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

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8 comments on “Growing Luffa in the Garden”

    • Luffa is considered a summer squash so plant it at the same time you would plant summer squash, the end of February through the beginning of April. Hope this helps.

    • 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.

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