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How to grow luffa from seed

Whether you wish to grow luffa to eat or to use as a loofah sponge, the great news is that luffa is an easy plant to grow. Personally I found it quite effortless to care for and I get a crop going every year so that I have enough sponges to last me for a while. In this blog post, I will teach you how to grow luffa from seed.

Luffa is a cucurbit that is also known as a sponge gourd. It is commonly eaten as a vegetable, or dried and used as a sponge. It comes in two forms, smooth or ridged. Either way, they are delicious and make good sponges.

Did you know that luffas also come in very small sizes? I have been trying to get my hands on Luffa operculata for ages but it’s often sold out. That would be another fun luffa to grow!

If you’d like to learn how to grow luffa, read on for more details!

how to grow luffa
Luffa plant growing on a trellis at Jurong Lake Gardens

How to grow luffa from seed

how to grow luffa from seed

If you live in a cold climate country, start your seeds indoors around 6 weeks before the last expected frost date. Once temperatures warm up and are consistently above 10 °C (50°F) at night, you can transplant your seedlings outdoors.

I usually start my seedlings in punnets filled with seed raising mix and transplant to my garden bed once it is a few weeks old. Cucurbits enjoy moist, well draining soil in a site with full day sun, and luffa is no different. Luffa fares well in-ground, but it is also happy to grow in a pot, I have done this on many occasions and yielded fruit from it.

How to care for luffa plant

Due to its vining nature, give your plants a trellis or let it sprawl on the ground. I grow mine on a lightweight, simple trellis but the vines usually meander and find its way on the ground. I place a brick or inverted pot underneath luffas growing on the ground, to prevent the fruit from rotting where it touches moist soil.

For a bountiful harvest, make sure the soil is well fertilised. I prepare the beds before I transplant, adding compost and fertiliser to ensure the seedlings have adequate nutrients to have a good head start. Every two weeks I supplement with a liquid feed of fish emulsion and occasionally I drench the leaves with seaweed emulsion.

Luffa is a fast growing plant, and is prolific at sending out yellow coloured flowers. If you are growing this outdoors, pollinators like bees will do the work for you. But if you are growing from a high-rise balcony or rooftop and pollinators do not come by as often, you can hand pollinate. Depending on the variety of luffa, pollination should be attempted at different times; 4am – 8am for Luffa cylindrica and Luffa acutangula at 5pm – 8pm according to this paper.

When it comes to pests, I do not have any issues whatsoever. To avoid powdery mildew, make sure your plants have good air circulation.

When to harvest luffa

When to harvest luffa

If you are harvesting luffa for consumption, you can harvest it once it gets to the size you prefer. When you squeeze the gourd, it should feel soft. Once you leave it for too long, it becomes fibrous and is best left to dry into a sponge.

If harvesting for sponges, you can leave it to turn brown on the vine or when it is yellow. I prefer to harvest when brown because I do not like dealing with mucilage from harvesting it, although those who harvest at the yellowing stage say it is easier to peel when compared to its completely dried form. If you live in a temperate climate, you should harvest early in the event of frost.

I hope you found this post on how to grow luffa educational and will try it for yourself! Personally I find it fun and it makes a great garden gift for friends and family, it is a plant I look forward to growing every year.

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