How to plant and grow loofah plants | Loofah, also known as “louffa,” is a versatile plant that grows well in warm climates with long summers and plenty of room for long vines. While there are technically two types of loofah grown for edibility and use as sponges, loofah cylindrica and loofah acutangula, both of which have similar cultural needs and can be used interchangeably.
Belongs to the same family as other pumpkins, such as pumpkins, cucumbers, pumpkins and melons, and has long been cultivated for its edible fruits.
Like other “cucurbits” when young ones are harvested, loofah produces green fruits whose taste is reminiscent of cucumbers. But when it ripens on the vine, it produces very fibrous fruits that are easy to dry and use as a sponge.
Not surprisingly, loofah plants are grown in the same way as their relatives, creating tall vines that can climb trellas, fences, or other structures available nearby. Under ideal conditions, their vines can grow to more than 20 feet tall!
Where to plant loofah plants
Loofah requires a lot of space to grow its tall vines and can easily climb strong structures such as fences. For optimal growth, plants should be exposed to full sun and avoid competition for the roots. The soil should be rich, rich in organic matter and good drainage.
To reduce the risk of disease, do not plant loofah in the same place every year and clean all grapes at the end of the season.
How and when to plant loofah plants
Due to the long growing season to produce ripe fruit, loofah is recommended to be planted as early as possible, and for those who live in cooler climates, it is recommended to start seeds indoors. In warmer climates, plants can be planted directly into the soil after the soil has warmed up and the danger of frost has passed.
Tips for caring for loofah plants
A full and direct day is necessary for the good growth of loofah plants. Very little sun creates large vines with lots of leaves, but the flowers (if they are produced at all) fall immediately before or after opening.
2. Soil and water
All of these large vines need healthy soil that is rich in nutrients and plenty of moisture. Change the soil with manure, compost or other organic matter before spring planting and feed it throughout the season. Water regularly and do not allow the plants to dry out completely.
3. Temperature and humidity
Loofah plants, native to the tropics and subtropics, prefer warm conditions and bloom in humidity. They do not tolerate cooler temperatures and stop growing when the temperature gets too cold. Likewise, they cannot tolerate freezing temperatures, and frost damages or kills grapes.
Before spring planting, manure or compost should be spread in autumn and then continue to fertilize the plants during the growing season. Nitrogen-rich mixtures can be used when the grapes are young, but when the plants ripen, it is necessary to switch to fertilizers with high phosphorus content.
Luffa grapes are very flexible and agile before the strings establish themselves around nearby objects. As the plants grow, pinch the side shoots so that the plants put most of their energy into one main growth point.
The first flowers that appear will be male, they can be left alone. However, during the fruiting of female flowers, all but 15 or 20 should be pruned to obtain larger, fuller fruit.
Pests and problems
Like other cucurbits, loofah plants are susceptible to powdery mildew. Avoid splashing water on the leaves and provide enough space around the plants to allow good air circulation.
How to propagate loofah plants
Luffa plants take about three months to fully ripen and another two weeks in optimal conditions for the fruit to ripen. Once the fruits have reached the peak of ripeness, remove them from the vine and let them dry.
After the fruits have dried, the seeds begin to loosen, they can be collected by cutting the fruit and shaking it in half. Name the seeds and store them in a cool, dry place to use in the next growing season.