Making a Luffa Sponge

by Daisy on 12/12/2011

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This year was a first for many things in the garden.  Probably the most dramatic new addition was the luffa gourds.

They got off to a bad start.  Soon after sprouting, they disappeared entirely one night.  Chipmunks?  Alien abduction?

So I planted more.  They soon sprouted and whatever got them the first time decided to give them a pass.  And they grew and grew, nearly taking over an entire side of the house.

But then, I despaired they would produce luffas.  They finally bloomed, and bloomed great, but I couldn’t find any fruit.  The bumblebees had fits over the blossoms, and I was happy for them, but where were my luffas?

Then one day I saw them.  Tiny luffas, but getting bigger every day.  Would they have time to get big enough before it got too cold?

Yes!  Nine big ol’ luffa gourds, and a couple of runts.  Then came more waiting, waiting for them to begin to yellow–the sign they were ready to peel and begin the conversion into “sponges.”

Luffas are a real patience-tester.  It’s December, and most of my luffas are still lovely green specimens.  A few, however, have turned color and were ready for their transformation.

I dug in and started to peel.  The more brown the skin, the easier it was to peel.  The still-green comes off, just not without a fight.

It looked a bit like a very odd ear of corn at one point.

Once all the skin was off, I rinsed the luffa under a sprayer until the water ran more or less clear, and set it in a sunny window to dry.

The seeds came out easier once the gourd was dry, although some seeds came out while it is being washed.  The bag of seeds pictured here is from ONE gourd, about a cupful.  Looks like I will have enough for my very own luffa revolution.

Stay tuned:  I’ll be making luffa soap soon!



{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Pie December 12, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Yes! I have been growing loofahs for several years now and love them. They cover and vine up on anything near them. They love lots of water and sun. And bumble bees! Boy, do they love them! If you need bees in your garden, plant some loofahs.

I have found that letting them dry on the vine and then peeling them is much easier than trying to peel the green ones. Also, as you said the seeds are much easier to drop out and save.

Every year my family each get a new loofah, and the old ones become scrubbers for the tile and grout, or whatever else needs scrubbing. They are completely safe for non-stick pans too.

renae December 12, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Wow! I am fascinated! I never knew this is what a luffa sponge is! I’d love to try grow one.

Lynnette December 12, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I’ve been wanting to grow luffas for years now and I always forget to order seeds! Any chance of selling/bartering your extras? =)

Melissa December 12, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Would you be interested in selling the seeds for your luffa plant?

Elizabeth December 12, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Wow that’s so awesome! I had no idea where loofah came from! And loofah soap! How awesome! I need to know about that! Love this site, gives me the motivation to get up and actually do it! And I want a seed or 2! If you have enough to share!

Denise December 12, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Wow! I guess I never really thought about where luffas came from. How cool!

Sarah December 12, 2011 at 8:10 pm

I really had no idea that luffas came from gourds. How cool!

Emily December 13, 2011 at 8:02 am

Aha! A reminder of the luffa seeds in my basket — originally meant to be planted this past spring, but since not, I will see if they will still work next spring! I’ve already put it in my calendar…

Ginger December 13, 2011 at 8:56 am

I am excited to see how your luffa soap comes out. I will be planting luffa gourds this coming spring for the first time . Plan on growing them and using them for baths, kitchen washing and house work as well. I’ll then be set free from having to pay 3.50 for a store bought pink sponge !
-Ginger

Cynthia December 13, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Where did you purchase your seeds? Also will you be selling they seeds you got from your gourds this year?

I tried doing this a few years ago (and by a few I mean like 8 lol) and after I grew them I had zero idea what to do with it! hehehe Thanks for the detailed how to! I’m excited to try again!

Sandra Nelsen December 13, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Now, that is cool. I doubt I could get them to grow in Phoenix.

Jessie December 13, 2011 at 2:55 pm

That is just way too cool!

Jane December 13, 2011 at 4:44 pm

This is so cool! I also had never heard of a luffa LOL!

Stephanie A. December 13, 2011 at 11:43 pm

These are beautiful! I love the way the vine climbed your house! And I would love to make my own luffa also. I want to fill them with homemade soap. I wonder if I could grow these in containers on my tiny townhouse deck?

20MinuteJan December 14, 2011 at 5:58 am

Thanks for the great article. I love the start-to-finish story and the step-by-step pictures. We usually grow squash vines along the fences in our gardens, and I’m now planning to grow luffas too. I’m glad I found your garden blog!

Ashley December 14, 2011 at 8:00 am

Lucky you! I’ve tried to grow luffa gourds the past couple of years and they just hate our clay soil. Boo! I wanted to grow my own to put in my goat milk/luffa soaps!

Nance Sparks December 15, 2011 at 9:07 pm

I WOULD REALLY REALLY REALLY LOVE some Luffa seeds… PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!

I would buy them… really would like some luffa seeds!!!!!!

Tami December 17, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Every year I try to plant luffa. Every year they crap out. You have made me want to plant again!

Thank you for posting this. (Off to find seeds!)

Linda December 19, 2011 at 7:34 pm

I live in ohio can I grow them here? Plus where can eeds rchased from? And, would you share recipe for luffa soap? Thanks

Tomato Lady December 19, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Linda–You can get them here: http://www.fedcoseeds.com/seeds/search.php?item=1962&search=luffa
As the catalog says, start them early indoors.
I plan to make luffa soap soon. It is just cold process soap poured over luffa. I’ll show how in the post.

Just Me... January 13, 2012 at 6:01 pm

I am shocked! I never new this is where a loofah came from! How interesting. How long does it last?

Thank you so much for sharing.

Tomato Lady January 13, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Just Me–The soap lasts just like regular soap, the loofah lasts a long time after the soap is gone. You’re welcome and thank you!

Ginny January 25, 2012 at 9:12 pm

I’ve. Been growing them for years, I love them. Let them dry on the vine. Don’t try to peel them green.

Corinne February 26, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Thank you for posting about this! I tried to grow luffas this past season also, but they all completely failed and I didn’t try again. Seems like I should have! Going to give it another go again this year for sure, since now I know!

Tomato Lady February 26, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Corinne–Good luck! It’s worth it!

Natalie March 15, 2012 at 10:39 am

This is my first time so I don’t know how the will turn out. Wish me luck!!

Tomato Lady March 15, 2012 at 11:47 am

Natalie–I’m sure you’ll do great!

Melissa March 30, 2012 at 3:33 am

My Grandma grew these and I have always wanted to. I have 4 plants sprouting now :) Nice to see your interesting posts.

Lori April 13, 2012 at 11:27 am

Ooo…I got some luffa seeds this spring on a whim! I didn’t know to start them indoors first. I’ll do it tonight right when I get home! Thanks for the info too. I’ve never grown them before. :)

Jean June 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm

I thought they came from the sea. Didn’t know they grew hanging off a vine.

Carolyn June 28, 2012 at 3:55 pm

I have not been able to find and luffa plants or seeds . If anyone has any extra please set me an e-mail. I had seeds at one time any years ago my mom & I enjoyd watching the grow.

Laurie September 4, 2012 at 5:18 am

My girlfriend just harvested her first loofah. She planted seeds in a large pot and surrounded the pot with chicken wire. (Last year it was ruined by a critter). She has several more ready to harvest. She started them early indoors, since we live in South central PA. I will be using some of her seeds and planting my own loofah next spring.

Rebecca October 15, 2012 at 9:35 am

I grew my first luffas this year! I have 3 big ones. I plan on making slices of them too, for facial scrubbings, pans etc. Do all of them turn yellow eventually?

Daisy October 15, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Rebecca–Yay!
Not a bad yellow, if that’s what you mean. They are a sort of straw color.

Janell October 26, 2012 at 8:47 am

After your Luffas have turned brown and dried put them a bath of water and let them soften. They peel so easy and it doesn’t tear the outer part of the luffa.

Andy October 30, 2012 at 7:32 pm

This is my 1st year growing luffas but i have lots of them but none are turning yet.

Sherry November 6, 2012 at 11:01 am

Did you know you can eat the immature luffas? In this case they are called singua or chinese okra. I did not know this until this year when we got them in the produce box. Treat like you would zucchini.

Andy November 6, 2012 at 5:55 pm

I have fried them and uesd them in soup. I picked my 1st ripe luffa today. It peeled so much easyer than the green ones.

Andy January 6, 2013 at 7:56 am

Well all done growing luffas now 1st frost killed them just before chirstmas. I wound up with about 90 luffas WOW!!! just off of 4 plants. Most very nice large (12-16 in) and a few small or deformed ones. Every one recieved a luffa on a stick dipped in soap for chirstmas. LOL
Hope everyone is having a great new year.

Daisy January 6, 2013 at 8:22 am

Andy–90! Amazing. Well done!

JoAnn August 23, 2013 at 6:11 am

I grew luffa’s for many years, until I moved to NC mountains where they don’t mature in time. I use a piece for bath time & also as scrubbers in the kitchen. When wet they’re not hard & scratchy. Let them stay on the vine till they’re completely dry & skin is brown. Cut a small piece off stem end & shake out seeds. Soak them in a bucket of water which will loosen the skin & it peels off easily. :~)

Linda September 1, 2013 at 1:28 pm

I harvested my first loofa today in southern CA, Im so excited. This time of year every thing is brown and dry in CA and my loofa in my back yard has beautiful green vines, lots of yellow blooms and big ole fat loofas ready to harvest by next month. I agree this process does take patience but I’m waiting for your loofa soap recipes just in time for the holidays. Thanks for the info. I think they are ready to use once they are cleaned and dry right? They don’t need to season I assume. Linda

Daisy September 1, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Linda–Love it. No, no seasoning. Let them get browner and drier than I did to make it a lot easier to work with.

Oh, and here it is: http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2012/01/making-homemade-luffa-soap.html

Yay!

Stephanie Watson November 7, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Hi, would love to buy some seeds from you. Will you be selling them?

Heather May 20, 2014 at 5:54 am

Can you grow them in michigan

Daisy May 20, 2014 at 8:41 am

Heather– Luffa can be grown from plants in zone 6 or warmer and from seed in zone 7 or warmer. Any further north would probably require a greenhouse or a very early start indoors.

Gottie August 29, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Hello, Where would I get seeds? What soil does this vine like? Thanks.Gottie

Daisy August 29, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Gottie–Try fedcoseeds.com. They have good seeds at a good price. Most ordinary garden soil with some good organic matter worked in will do. Keep well watered while they get established.

Cathy Gifford August 31, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Wow where do I buy luffa seeds?

Daisy September 1, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Cathy Gifford–Fedco Seeds has them (fedcoseeds.com). I like them for several reasons but one of the main ones is they have small, inexpensive packet sizes so you can try out lots of new things (like luffa!).

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