Most people don’t know you can grow your own luffa sponges. Some luffas are high-dollar items in beauty supply stores but they’re inexpensive to grow and will yield many. Order the seeds or seedlings from a garden supply store or catalog. The gourd is known as the luffa or dishrag gourd and is easy to grow in your garden. They can grow up to 16 inches in length, making some pretty nice, large luffas.
Not only are luffas useful but, while in the garden, they produce beautiful, large yellow flowers. The gourds require lots of sun, and watering during dry spells, but are generally easy to tend. They don’t necessarily have to be planted in gardens, either. The vines will climb fences, trellises, or porch railings for a beautiful look to otherwise boring areas.
A few seeds is all it takes to begin your luffa garden. Each seed will produce a vine and each fine will yield several gourds. Plant the gourds around the same time of year you usually plant cucumbers or squash. Plant them about 18 inches apart and keep well-weeded.
Keep dead or yellowed leaves trimmed away from the plants. Mildew often attacks gourd plants but you can prevent the problem by keeping the area well-weeded and not allowing plants to crowd together.
One disease that attacks luffa gourds is Anthracnose, a fungus-type disease that causes yellow spots on leaves to get large and brown. Sometimes, if the fungus is bad, the entire vine can look browned. There are products on the market to treat gourd diseases but they can be somewhat costly.
When gourds are ripe they turn from green to yellow. Pick the gourds when the stems shrivel and the gourds no longer show any green coloring. Use a sharp knife to peel the outer layer from the gourd and you have your luffa. Some people slice the luffas into smaller pieces but you can use them as one large luffa, if preferred.
If you’re using luffas for dishes soak the luffas in bleach water once a week to kill germs and prevent unpleasant odors. Always rinse the luffa out after each use. Lay in a dish to dry but turn once or twice to speed drying process.
Luffas have many uses from scrubbing pots to using in the tub, to scouring car tires. Luffas don’t scratch like scouring pads and can be used for long periods of time. Grow your own and you’ll always have plenty on hand – without the expense.