If you thought loofah sponges come from the ocean like a natural sea sponge, you’d be wrong…but you wouldn’t be the first to think so! In fact, loofahs come from the garden, and you can actually plant your own!
Loofahs are a favorite shower accessory as their slightly rough fibers make them perfect for exfoliating dead skin cells, leaving you with smooth, glowing skin.
The loofah (or luffa) plant is actually a gourd in the cucumber family. This climbing plant takes a long time to reach maturity—90 to 100 days—so it’s best to plant early. It is also known for its tremendous growth of up to 30 feet, making it perfect for use with arches, trellises, and pergolas.
Loofah plants have beautiful yellow blossoms that eventually turn into a vegetable that resembles zucchini. The vegetable is edible but only for a short time while it’s young before it becomes bitter. When picked early, the vegetable has green skin, but it turns brown and becomes light as a feather as it matures. The interior is the fibrous material we know as the loofah.
When harvested at just the right time, the loofah vegetable is easy to peel. You can either harvest once the skin feels loose or let it become brown, but it’s actually easier to peel before it turns brown. Harvest the seeds for next year by cutting off one end and shaking the seeds out. Grab one end of the skin and peel it off.
Before use, wash the loofah in a bucket of water with 4 tablespoons of bleach per gallon to eliminate any remaining juices. Rinse with freshwater and let dry out completely in the sun.
We’re delighted to have this plant in our children’s garden this year and have learned a thing or two about growing them. We will definitely grow this whimsical plant again next year. Don’t forget to start your plants early next year!
If you haven’t marked your calendar for our Fall Art In The Garden, make sure you do!