The do’s and don’t of growing luffa sponges in your backyard.
- Where to get seeds when growing luffa sponges?
- Soil and location for growing luffa sponges
- Watering your luffa sponges
- What’s the growing season?
- All about harvesting and drying
- A summary of “do’s” and “don’t’s”
I don’t know what I used to think a luffa sponge was or what growing them would entail. I guess I thought it came from the ocean, but never did I ponder the idea of it growing in my own yard on a vine! Did you know you can eat them while they’re young? I won’t be doing that with my luffa, but instead, I’ll be hanging them to dry to use as sponges. Here’s my journey through growing luffas.
Where to Get Seeds When Growing Luffa Sponges
I learned I could GROW luffa sponges while I was on another blogger’s website who was writing about how challenging it was. Well, a challenge sounded good so I bought some seeds. I remembered reading the luffa seeds would take a very long time to germinate, but mine only took tops two weeks! Once I bought the seeds, put them in the ground and they popped up almost immediately. No soaking or chilling required!
Soil and Location for Growing Luffa Sponges
You should use rich, well-draining soil so that’s what I put them in. We have sandy soil here in West Central Florida so I was sure to mix in some quality, home-made compost. With the well-draining characteristic of the sand and the rich humus and nutrients from the compost, it ended up being the perfect combination of sand: soil.
For location, your vines need lots of sun exposure! My luffa vines get sun all day long and they love it. You want to trellis your luffa so the 1-2 foot (Yes, you read that right!) gourds don’t rest on the ground to potentially rot. I set mine up by a fence and they took off and took over! Here’s a picture of how they started out. (This picture was taken June 27, 2018, and the seeds were planted May 17, 2018!):
I live in Florida so we get a fair amount of water from the rain. Actually, I’ve probably turned my hose on a total of 10-15 times since May! Needless to say, our electric bill has been pleasantly low all summer because we haven’t had to use our well quite as much. Thanks, Mother Nature! On the dry days, I give the base of the vines with all my luffa sponges a nice soak so I can maintain a consistent schedule for growing. I’ve also mulched them since the rain is slowing down a tad bit here in September. My luffas are thriving!
If your luffa seeds get waterlogged, they won’t survive. So if your yard puddles after rains, then you can do yours in pots! Just make sure to have a good, strong trellis for them. By August 3, 2018, my vines looked like this:
This looks all fine and dandy but I read that vines can grow up to 30 feet! When I started growing luffa sponges I didn’t believe it at first but proven wrong. Don’t worry, I’ll show you a picture! The twine strung between the posts was weighed down by leaves and thick stems. Next year I’ll construct something out of wood and wire.
Luffas love hot weather. They can take around 4-5 months to reach maturity so I’m nearing that date now. Planted in mid-May, I’m at the four-month mark. If you live in a cooler location with a shorter growing season, your luffa will take longer to mature. I got my first bloom on August 13, 2018, and boy was it pretty. Soon after I got my first bloom, I noticed my first gourd. The gourd is high up in a nearby lemon tree.
Below you’ll see my first flower, my first gourd, and how intense the luffa vine took over. I love them and they love the luffa flowers so I’m totally okay with the bee party that takes place every day all day. I’ll really miss them when they go but look forward to the next year. If bees aren’t your thing, don’t plant luffas or plant them somewhere that you don’t have to pass by so often.
Harvesting and Drying
This is a step I’ll be taking soon. Different folks advise different ways to determine when the luffa are ready to harvest. Some say to wait until they turn brown and the skin dries and others say to harvest and peel them once the skin feels “loose”. If you wait until the skin is brown they’re much harder to peel. After I peel my luffa gourd, I’ll scrub them clean and let them dry a couple of weeks. If you’re thinking about growing luffa sponges, I say YES, definitely do it. Also, these would make a GREAT Christmas gift!
- Plant your luffa seeds in a well-draining, sunny area.
- Construct a strong trellis to support your vines all seasons.
- Admire all the bumblebees you’ll attract.
- BE PATIENT! Once you see that first bloom and gourd, it’ll take off from there
- Buy your seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. (No, I am not an affiliate, I just really love them!)
- Tell me if you’re growing luffa grouds so we can chat about it!
- Send me pictures of your vines!
- Read my post about how to harvest luffa sponges called Harvest Luffa Sponges: How to and When to Harvest!
- Harvest them too early.
- Shade them because the flowers close, this is normal.
- If you’re scared of bees, plant them near the house.
- Plant them on a fence that is already falling apart… I guess I’ll finally be fixing the fence after the season is done!
- Overwater them. Remember, waterlogged seeds means so germination!