How To Grow Loofah Plants For Sponges

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Loofa Sponge Growing
 
We grew loofah for the first time this year! It was a pretty cool experience although it does take some patience. They are a super slow growing member of the squash family, although pretty darn hardy as long as you keep them watered.

First I encourage you to soak your seeds over-night to speed up the germination process. We did not and boy did they take forever to germinate. Second, they will take months and months just to climb your trellis, so hang in there, water regularly and wait some more. Third, once they finally bloom, it is another many weeks before you finally see your first fruit, but WOW are the flowers beautiful and boy oh boy do the bees, and butterflies, LOVE them. The picture above shows two loofah at about their full size, but still many weeks away from being ready to harvest. You must wait until they turn a pale yellow to almost brown before cutting them down so that they are nearly dry inside and the skin comes off fairly easily too.
 
Once you harvest them, just peel the skin off, cut sponges to desired size, and shake out the seeds. We used trays lined with paper towels to dry the sponges as well as the seeds. Here’s a great video on the whole procedure:  Processing Loofa Sponges and Seeds
 
We will definitely grow them again next year because we love feeding the bees, plus there is not a lot that grows well here in Central Florida in the summer. Get your seeds ready to go the first day of the last frost date for your area because you will need every single warm day of the season to get them to maturity!

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