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PlantFiles: Smooth Luffa, Sponge Luffa, Climbing Okra, Dishrag Gourd
Luffa cylindrica

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Family: Cucurbitaceae (koo-ker-bih-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Luffa (LUF-fuh) (Info)
Species: cylindrica (sil-IN-dree-kuh) (Info)

Synonym:Luffa aegyptiaca

10 vendors have this plant for sale.

71 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Category:
Annuals
Vegetables
Vines and Climbers

Height:
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

Spacing:
12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

Hardiness:
Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Danger:
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer

Foliage:
Smooth-Textured
Veined
Leathery-Textured

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds

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There are a total of 28 photos.
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Profile:

14 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Positive NicoleC On Mar 28, 2013, NicoleC from Madison, AL (Zone 7b) wrote:

Prolific bloomer and climber and also produces a lot of fruit. Vines get to 12'+. A favorite destination for bumblebees and hummingbirds in the garden.

Positive Tropicalnikko On Mar 28, 2011, Tropicalnikko from Brisbane bayside
Australia (Zone 11) wrote:

Like all squash, gourds and pumpkin type plants this grows well here.

Positive paulforbes On Nov 12, 2009, paulforbes from Fresno, CA wrote:

Best germination in warm soil. Rushing them outdoors when the soil is still cold won't help. Ideal weather is hot or hotter with high humidity throughout the growing season. Sometimes wilts in our area during heat of the day even when watered daily. Attracts lots of ants, which do no harm, and actually may increase the crop by aiding pollination. I believe the ants also protect the plant from other pests. Loofa sponges require about 4 months on the vine to mature properly and are best left on until first frost. 1 vine can cover about 12 feet of fence over a season with about 4-6 large sponges per vine or 10-12 smaller ones. I usually pick off the smaller ones and let the remaining get larger. Best way to clean is to let soak for a few days in water until the skin rots off. One method I haven't tried is to run them through the dishwasher.

Positive katrun On Oct 14, 2009, katrun from Alexandria, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is the first time growing them. Started them from seed and they all came up fine. After transplanting them some died, but the few that remained started slow for a month and was almost hopeless.
Then they took off! The grew and grew everywhere. I think I feed them too much miracle grow, as I had many flowers and no fruit on the ones in the yard. The rest of the plants I grew in pots on one of my decks. I managed to get like 5 fruits. They grow very large. I still have one that is very small. I will take that one and cook him up.
I am going to let them dry on the vine until they turn brown.
I am very excited and will plant them again. They are a nice screen and I love seeing them hang from my deck.
Everyone likes to comment on them and think they are cucumbers.
I still have a few weeks to go before the first frost.
I was not sure if I should take them off prior to the frost. WIll update and post my results in the winter. :)

Neutral Ruby_Girl On Jan 21, 2008, Ruby_Girl from Springfield, MO (Zone 6b) wrote:

We recently moved into a house in Springfield, MO. that has a beautiful, extensive flower garden. Lucky me! The next door neighbors had let part of their garden creep over the privacy fence & invade part of my garden. I was unsure of what these invasive, "alien pods" were! ha! Thank you for the info....I now know & I look forward to next summer. Maybe I can get a Luffa!

Positive gray_53 On Dec 25, 2007, gray_53 from Mcdonough, GA wrote:

I just got a luffa pod for Christmas! :-) (I am probably among the less than 1% of the population who would enjoy that)
I peeled the brownish skin off without much trouble. I got about 50 plantable seeds, and 100 troublesome undeveloped ones. I now have a nice backscratcher and a luffa mat. I'll post next year with the results of my efforts to grow a luffa vine.
- 12/25/07

5/12/08 -- They have sprouted! Very slow to germinate, took about two weeks indoors.

Positive dave3877 On Jul 19, 2007, dave3877 from Crockett, TX wrote:

youll get a buttload of seeds per fruit but i have noticed only a few germinate. but hey when they do take off its a jackpot. if you have teflon coated cookware or other kitchen cookware/utensils/dishes this is what youll want to wash and scrub with.

Positive WUVIE On Mar 25, 2006, WUVIE from Hulbert, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

I once heard P.Allen Smith make the comment that
Luffa would take a long time to get going, but once
it did, you would be surprised.

And was I ever!

True, Luffa can seem hopeless for those without patience.
If the soil is cold and soggy, the seeds will likely rot and
never germinate. A heated germination mat works wonders
for those in short seasons, or for those just wanting to
get those little guys growing quicker.

Once they form their first tendrils, they are bound for
the sky. They do appreciate something to climb on,
though I harvested one of our most successful crops
ever on a four foot tall chain link fence.

A very long growing season is required for Luffa, and
as fate would direct, it always seems the vines are
doing best when it is time for the first frost to arrive.

Positive SergioLousame On Jun 3, 2005, SergioLousame from A Coruņa
Spain (Zone 10a) wrote:

I live in Guernsey (United Kingdom) and is the first time i try with Loofah.I bought the seeds in a nursery 4 weeks ago and they are growing already. I started them indoors because the weather here is still quite cold, could be because is an island in the middle of the English Channel. But looks like the summer is about to come and i'll put them soon in the garden.

Positive Morph On May 17, 2005, Morph from Dayton, OH (Zone 5a) wrote:

Grew these several years ago with tremendous success! I am growing again this year to use in my soap making hobby ☺ They do best with scheduled spraying to deter the "fake" lady bugs they attract. Can't recall what those beasties are called. I'll post a photo of a seedling I've started this year.

Positive RickW On Oct 11, 2004, RickW from Warrenton, VA wrote:

This plant is an energetic grower! My vines are 18 to 20 feet long and the some of the many fruits, which are not ready and still growing, are over two feet long and over 8 inches in diameter.
The only negative is that I didn't pay enough attention to a vine a few feet from a holly tree. Now I have to figuar out how to get the vine and fruits out of the tree while keepin my skin.

Positive melody On Apr 16, 2004, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

After peeling the fruits..which I find easiest when there is still some green left in the skins,shake the seeds loose and wash in a bleach solution. This gives them the look of the commercially prepared luffas that you pay so much for in the bed and bath stores.

Bleach solution at 10:1 ratio. No big deal if some seeds are left inside when washed, they will float right out.

Positive trecamp On Jan 27, 2004, trecamp from Beaufort, NC (Zone 8a) wrote:

I don't know the particulars my variety of these plants. It began as an experiment to see if they'd grow, and did they ever. These pics are of 3 plants. They are only about half grown.

Positive Tinylayd On Sep 29, 2003, Tinylayd from Lumberton, MS (Zone 8a) wrote:

When the plant is about 8 inches long I picked some off the vine and sliced them round and fried them. They taste like fried green tomatos.

Neutral Chamma On Apr 16, 2003, Chamma from Tennille, GA (Zone 8b) wrote:

They take a large space to grow. The immature fruits when small can be cooked and eaten. The dried loofahs are used in spas here to scrub the skin...makes an excellent defoliater! Also can be used wet in the shower to scrub the body. Commonly used in Medditeranean countries and can readily be found in markets for sale.

Positive Tataia On Mar 10, 2003, Tataia from (Zone 6b) wrote:

Grown for using the matured fruit's texture, (after peeling the exterior coating and drying) as a bathing sponge.

The plant is related to the cucumber and looks very similar to the cucumber; but after the flowers fall the fruit is larger and lighter than the garden cucumber.

When fruits reach the length of 35-50 cm, a diameter of 7 to 15 cm, and are dark green and firm, they are mature and ready to collect. You may also wait until they turn yellow or brown, but the exterior skin peeling will be much more difficult, and the texture you will obtain will not be smooth.

The seedslook like the seeds of water melon, only much bigger(20 mm long, 7-10 mm wide and 1-2 mm thick), and must be started indoors in late February/mid-March to raise seedlings that will be planted outdoors in garden when outside night temperature does not drop below 5-7 Centigrade.

Neutral dave On Oct 24, 2001, dave wrote:

Don't take them off the vine until they are completely dry. They will be completely brown and feather-light. Also, shaking it forcefully, you should hear seeds rattle inside.

When it is completely dry, remove it from the vine, and pop a hole in the top or bottom of the fruit. Then lower the gourd, hole-side down, into a 5 gallon bucket and shake it until most or all of the seeds have fallen out. They will literally rain about 300 seeds per fruit into the bucket.

Once the seeds are out, then just peel off the brown skin. I find it is easiest to use a dull "butter knife", gently prodding the skin away from the sponge, starting at the top and working my way down.

Regional...

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

,
Auburn, Alabama
Huntsville, Alabama
Madison, Alabama
Hereford, Arizona
Surprise, Arizona
Antioch, California
Fresno, California
Sacramento, California
Vacaville, California
Trinidad, Colorado
Lutz, Florida
Micanopy, Florida
Milton, Florida
New Port Richey, Florida
North Fort Myers, Florida
Orange Springs, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Spring Hill, Florida
Wauchula, Florida
Zephyrhills, Florida
Mcdonough, Georgia
Villa Rica, Georgia
Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaii
Anna, Illinois
Mascoutah, Illinois
Lapel, Indiana
Benton, Kentucky
Prospect, Kentucky
Gray, Louisiana
Lafayette, Louisiana
Lumberton, Mississippi
Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Saucier, Mississippi
Springfield, Missouri
Carson City, Nevada
Mount Laurel, New Jersey
Trenton, New Jersey
Beaufort, North Carolina
Boonville, North Carolina
Efland, North Carolina
Hillsborough, North Carolina
Stoneville, North Carolina
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Florence, South Carolina
Crossville, Tennessee
Lenoir City, Tennessee
Crockett, Texas
Houston, Texas
Jacksonville, Texas
Midlothian, Texas
Mission, Texas
Richmond, Texas
Vidor, Texas
Alexandria, Virginia
Edinburg, Virginia
Goode, Virginia
Lynchburg, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia



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