Some say luffa, some say loofa, and some even say loopha. Whatever you call it, did you know it’s a plant.? That’s right, this amazing exfoliating powerhouse is a plant.
Being a member of the gourd family means it is a sun loving , heat tolerating, and rapidly growing vine. It requires well draining soil, a trellis to climb up, and a long hot growing season. It should also be noted that this plant grows so fast, it will take over a growing trellis. The vines will reach the trellis top and that won’t stop them. The vines will drape back down, grab hold , and grow back up again.
This annual will produce a cluster of buds that will open as happy yellow flowers everyday. Once a flower falls, with the help of pollinators, a baby luffa will emerge. The baby fruit is eaten in some cultures but around here we just want them to grow as big as possible.
No two luffa fruits are the same. They all begin as a dense, dark green cucumber like shape that grows to a 6 to 20 inch size. It’s like each vine has a mind of its own and will produce several unique shapes. When the fruit has completed its growth cycle, it will turn a dull yellow color and begin to have brown spots on its surface. Once this is seen, it’s time to harvest but only the one that’s ready. Each fruit will mature at its own rate and show when it’s ready to pick.
When picked, it’s easiest to peel them immediately and allow them to dry in a cool place. Each luffa is full of seeds and as it dries the seeds will break free and fall out. The seeds are covered with a paper like shell that also loosens as it dries.
When the luffa is completely dry it’s time to shake the heck out of it. Seeds and paper shells will come out in great numbers. Keeping the seeds for next years crop will ensure that you always have luffa. Once you have grown luffa, you will never need seeds again.
Once the luffa is clean and dry, there are so many uses. When it’s dry it is seriously rough and hard but becomes soft and pliable when wet. It’s perfect for scrubbing the skin and when rubbed on a bar of soap, will create a thick lather on the skin. They can even be used to gently exfoliate the face and neck. Scrubbing dirty hands and feet in the shower or sink will remove grit and grime. At the kitchen sink, they will wash dishes, clean the sink, and scrub sticky countertops.
Luffa can be used over and over making them an excellent choice for sustainable living. They will serve their purpose for weeks to months and then biodegrade in a compost or even a landfill. They dry between uses and can be cleaned with a vinegar soak from time to time.
If you would like to grow luffa, you can send a self-addressed and stamped envelope to:
18913 Bethel Rd.
Richards, TX 77873
We will be happy to send you seeds if you would like to try to take a stab at growing your own luffa!