Harvesting a Luffa Sponge

Harvesting Luffa Sponges

For two seasons my husband and I grew Luffa sponges on a large scale and I have to admit it was a lot of work.  After running into water supply issues we decided to table our future plans and now we grow this plant on a small scale for fun.

Natural sponges are fantastic and knowing when to harvest is really important.  You never want to harvest a luffa when it’s green because it won’t be ready, it will be mushy like an over ripe cucumber.

When the sponge is green like the ones on these vines they’re still still forming fibers.

You wait until they turn almost yellowish brown, this ensures a soft sponge that’s easy to peel and remember you have to peel it right away.

 

Peel Luffa like a Banana

After you clip a ripe luffa from the vine take it to a clean table and begin the cleaning process. If you harvest a sponge when they’re moist the shell comes right off with little effort; you can easily compost the skin so there’s no waste.

  • Cut off the bottom and top ends before shaking out loose seeds.
  • Releasing the sponge is like peeling a banana.
  • After the peel is removed wash the sponge in clean water releasing any additional seeds.
  • Place on a plate or tray to air dry in the sun.  This may take 12 hours or less depending on temperature.
  • After the Luffa is dry go ahead and shake out additional seeds and now you have a new shower sponge.

These sponges are wonderful for exfoliation.

The seeds can be used for the following growing season, expect to get about 75 – 100 seeds per large sponge.

Harvesting a few luffa at a time is no big deal, but imagine hundreds, let’s just say that takes some time and that’s a lot of seeds.

Luffa can be used for more than just exfoliation.  We replaced all our synthetic sponges by growing our own luffa.  My favorite household options included cleaning the bathroom tub and sinks and they’re wonderful for washing dishes.

Once the sponge has expired it can be recycled back into the soil.  I luffa as a no waste product but the entire process can be worked back into the ground to help improve the soil.  It’s a win, win for gardeners with a 200 day growing season.

If you’re interested in growing luffa remember it loves hot humid climates.  To get my complete luffa growing instructions click here.

Get step by step direction on how to harvest a home grown luffa sponge. It's like peeling a banana if harvested at the right time. Learn More here. #LuffaSponge #Harvesting

 

 

Luffa Growing in Oklahoma

Reader Steve from Oklahoma started luffa in Hay bales, looks like he’s going to have an awesome harvest this fall (2017).  Check out all those amazing vines, when they turn after the first freeze they can be used for wreath projects.

Garden Up Green Reader Growing Luffa

41 comments

  1. Mary Smith says:

    I'm growing Louffa this year. I can't wait. thanks for the info!

    1. That's awesome this is our third season growing; it's more fun on a smaller scale. If you're ever interested in any Heirloom Luffa seeds let me know. We have thousands. 🙂
      – Carole

    2. Oh my! These are awesome! I'd love to get some seeds, if they are still available! We have a wonderful greenhouse with space for them to grow! Seriously, even tho we are in the Pacific Northwest, we grow year-round!

    3. I'm currently giving away watermelon seeds for kids. I could sell you some Luffa seeds if you like just email me. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest so not sure how well these plants would do even in a green house, unless it was heated. They have a 200 day growing season, seeds germinate around 70 degrees at about 10 to 14 day. To get the plants and pods to grow you need high 80 and 90 degree temperatures. If you heat your greenhouse to that temperature you could probably make it work – it's a tropical plant known to grow in areas like the Phillipines.
      -Carole

    4. Definitely will email you a little later here. 🙂 I've been growing a few other tropicals that people kept telling me would have no chance of growing (like our super lush patchouli plants! I grow those just cause they are pretty. But we also grow a couple coffee plants and have recently started a cocoa tree from beans we brought back from Costa Rica a few years ago.), have been doing well in our greenhouse, so I'm optimistic for it. 🙂 I'm certainly willing to try!

    5. That's very neat – I just wanted you to know so if for some reason it didn't work you wouldn't get frustrated. Would love to see pictures of your greenhouse. Sounds amazing! -Carole

  2. daisy g says:

    I wanna give these a go. I know they can get massive! They feel so good when used in the shower. Thanks for the wonderful information!

    1. They are fun to grow sometimes I get impatience because the weather has to be just right and they have a long growing season. I have two other posts listed on my Garden Space Page that are geared towards growing the plants, tips and things I've learned that you might find helpful. -Carole

  3. Deborah says:

    I've thought about growing these many times, but haven't been brave enough yet. These are beautiful! Found you on Tuesday's Garden Party. Pinning this for future use. Thank you!

    1. They can be pretty tricky to grow I have a couple more posts that cover how to grow them if you ever decide to do so. They love warm weather and have a 200 day growing season. I've also seen where some grow them in a greenhouse if they don't have the 200 days of growing where they live. Thanks for stopping by and hope you subscribed. 🙂
      -Carole

      1. Steve MacDonald says:

        When we lived in Florida, Clearwater/Largo, I grew them there and thought I would try them here in Eastern Oklahoma. I planted 3 seeds and now have plenty of shade on my back deck and can count 12 luffa’s. I’m sure I have some on the roof of my deck that I cant see. I’ve calculated 200 days is sometime in November so am hoping I’ll be able to process some. I plan on using them as Christmas presents for my wifes staff. I loved the ones we harvested in Florida all those years ago (25+).

        1. Carole says:

          That’s neat and they do make such great Christmas presents. Check the farmer’s almanac for the first fall freeze because I’m going to bet you can get them to mature. How Fun – Thanks for sharing Steve.

  4. Jennifer A says:

    I grew these several years ago, and loved it! They do get huge though and the vines go everywhere! I'll have to try again next year, I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed having these sponges around. Found you on the Homemaking Link up!

    1. Nice to hear form you Jennifer and welcome! Here's something that might will help to increase the size of the sponge – when they're a new sprout and growing in the early stages they need a lot of water. The more water they get the bigger the sponge will be. Also if you grow them in a 5 gallon bucket your vines will not be as grand but you'll probably only get 2 or 3 sponges per plant. -Carole

  5. Luffa in the kitchen…what a great idea! I don't have a garden, but I saw in an earlier comment, that they can be grown in a containter. I might have to give that a try. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Yes you can grow it in a container – I have a couple more posts about Luffa on my Garden Page. Thanks for stopping by!
      -Carole

  6. Heidi Ramsey says:

    I have seen the luffas and seeds at a local seed company for the past few seasons, but I have always passed them by. I think I will give them a shot this year – it definitely looks fun. Thanks for the share and I featured you at the HomeAcre hop on http://www.pintsizefarm.com

    1. They are fun to grow on a small scale – we use to grow them on a much larger scale and that was a lot of work. If you ever decide to grow them I have a couple more posts in my Garden Space page that can walk you through the process. Thanks for stopping by to share. -Carole

  7. OH wow! I love this luffa sponge, I use one all the time! I hope you linked this to my Fabulous Friday Party! Its a unique post
    http://www.simplenaturedecorblog.com/fabulous-friday-partyfall-features/ Hugs Maria

    1. I was over there and already did that – I also linked up the fiber art post. I should have left a comment, sometimes I forget to do that. Thanks for stopping by! -Carole

    2. I think I actually shared this one last week. I forget.

  8. Karen says:

    Great post, Carole! On of my husband's co-workers sent home a harvested luffa sponge AND some seeds so we can grow our own. I'll be checking out your page for growing tips – thanks for sharing! Pinning & sharing on FB letter this week. Thanks for sharing with us at Wake Up Wednesday.

    1. Thanks – this is fun to grow on a small scale. I love these sponges for cleaning house too they're amazing! -Enjoying that link up by the way glad I found it. 🙂 -Carole

  9. Anonymous says:

    where can i get seeds to try my hand at growing luffa? I would really like to try. How many grow to a vine, just one? or is like cucumbers there could be several per vine.

    1. They can grow between 4 and 6 sponges per vine. If you plant straight in the ground vice in a container you will have better sponges and results. They need well fertilized soil. I have seeds available send me and email to Gardenupgreen@gmail.com – and I can send you a paypal address for payment if you're interest. They're $5.00 for a small scoop and they come with planting instructions I wrote based on three seasons of and learning. -Carole

      1. Steve MacDonald says:

        I grew my 3 plants this year in a hay bale from seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I used tomato cages until they outgrew those and then trestled them where they grew up and over my deck roof. Of the 3 plants, I have well over 25 and they are still producing smaller gourds. I’m going to start cutting all new growth off.

        1. Carole says:

          That’s awesome, I haven’t planted in hay bales – what a great idea because I’m guessing they held the moisture perfectly. The smaller gourds under 6 inches can be chopped up and enjoyed in stir fry, prep is similar to zucchini. Shredded, they make a great luffa bread. Thanks for sharing your experience.

          1. Steve MacDonald says:

            Great. After posting I cut about a dozen small luffa’s that were headed to the compost pile. I have a couple of really small ones I’ll set aside and try the stir-fried. Thanks for the heads up. I found an article about hay bales and decided to try it. I planted cucs, luffa’s and a tomato. The cuc’s and luffa’s did great. I’ve never had such a great harvest and they’re right off my back deck and had trouble getting rid of all the cucs. My wife took some to school and I gave away a lot.

            I wish I could post a picture of the Luffa’s, they’ve taken over the back deck. I’ve found also that my hummingbirds that have normally left this time of year are still here. I think it’s the cover the big leaves and flowers that have kept them here. I’m going thru a gallon of nectar for 3 feeders almost daily.

          2. Carole says:

            You can send me an image and I can share it here on the post if you like or you can post on our Facebook page.
            Just remember never eat luffa past 6 inches because it works as a mild laxative.

        2. Carole says:

          Hey Steve I just added your pictures to this post. Enjoy!

  10. Elizabeth says:

    That’s so cool, I always wanted to grow them but didn’t think it would work.

  11. Susan Barnes says:

    Hi I live in UK and have tried many many times to grow loofahs, but this is the first time I have ever had fruit, very pleased with my self, just hoping they change from green to brown very soon

    1. Carole says:

      It may not be warm enough for them to reach their full potential in the UK. Luffa is a tropical plant with a 200 day growing season. I have a how to grow 5 page printable in my shop that you may find helpful. https://www.gardenupgreen.com/resources

  12. Judy Krieg says:

    I’M IN MN ZONE 4. I SUPPOSE THESE WON’T GROW HERE. HOW ABOUT IT THEY ARE GROWN IN A GREENHOUSE?

    1. Carole says:

      Hey Judy – you can grow pretty much anything in a greenhouse if the temperatures and lighting are correct. I have a PDF printable on growing luffa you may find helpful.
      https://www.gardenupgreen.com/resources

      I’ve only grown Luffa in Texas and it does have a 200 day growing season dying off at the first site of frost. There is a farmer in California that grows luffa in buckets using large greenhouses. I’m not sure how cost effective it would be as the sponges per vine decrease when the plant is confined.

  13. Linda Pacey says:

    I have tried to grow luffas in the past but my husband has mowed them off. We had access to the community garden this year and I planted my luffas, pumpkins, corn, and peppers. Unfortunately everything had a really late start this year. I wasn’t sure how they would do. The pumpkins have been picked by early September and the luffas took over the rest of the garden. Up and over the trellis. We have to clean out the garden this weekend but the luffas are still green! Is there anything I can do??? The are huge and I have about 30 of them! Is there any way to dry them out?

    1. Carole says:

      Depends on how green they are and if they have already started to lighten. Check your first freeze dates and let them stay on the vine as long as they can. Then right before that freeze harvest them, bring indoors. You can let them sit inside for a few days and try and peel them. It’s a messy process and depending on how green they are the peeling process may involve a knife. We did this one year and was able to salvage some as we ended up with a second crop. The fibers will be softer and there will still be a lot of fruit to wash away.

  14. Dawn says:

    Like Linda, I tried growing loofahs this year. Only 3 plants but they did very well. But the weight of them and heavy winds broken my arches. Devastated I propped them up on my wheel barrow. I’m in zone 6a and the weather is getting colder. I was told the only way to dry them is on the vine. Well I don’t think I’ll have the luxury of being able to do that and was wondering if I could dry them indoors and if so, how do you recommend doing so? First frost date could be anytime between now and mid November. It will get down to 40 F tonight. I was also wondering if I could bring them indoors to dry. Do they need the sun to dry? I went ahead and ripped one green one open and although it was about 17 inches long, it wasn’t ready. Any suggestions? There’s not much online about this.

    1. Carole says:

      You are looking for the first freeze, check the farmer’s almanac to get a better idea for how long you can keep them on the vine. Yes they need the sun, Luffa is a tropical plant and requires a 200 day growing season. I have a printable for $1 in my shop that is a great guide for growing Luffa. My advice is the same as I shared with Linda. If they’re dark green they won’t have enough time to mature. If they are turning yellow color then you can still harvest, there will be fruit inside but you can squeeze it out.

  15. BettyK says:

    We just harvested our single plant today. First freeze predicted tonight in SW Virginia. Had to throw several spongie ones over the fence but still able to bring 80 or more to the work bench. NOT ONE had turned the crunchy brown, several with shades of yellow, but many many green.

    Peeling was a chore and there was a lot of fruit inside the greenest ones. In years past, and again this year, we have found it easier to wash them with a power washer. Then, we soak them for about 15 minutes in water/bleach before stringing them up and hanging them on the fence to dry in the sun for several days. The grands enjoy shaking the lines of hanging loofah as they dry and release their seeds a little more each day. Right now, we have 65 that are looking to be keepers.

    Yes, in some cases, the fiber is less dense than the ripened loofah, but sometimes that is a good thing!

    See you at the market!

    1. Carole says:

      Sounds like you had a great first season. You might try planting earlier indoors – like in February this might help improve your harvest because I’m guessing your fall temperatures drop faster than ours. This will give them a chance to mature during July and August. Their 180 day growing season is something else – I have a printable in our shop you might find helpful. I put our entire experience there as we grew them on a large scale. It was fun and a lot of work…

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