I just got home from Asheville, NC and the Mother Earth News Fair where I gave a talk on “How to grow and use Luffa Sponges” Here is some of the information I presented. Many people are surprised and delighted to learn that a luffa is not a sea sponge but a plant in the cucumber family that can easily be grown in your own home garden.
They are super easy to grow and just need sunshine, water and a place to climb — In about 90 days you will have a full grown gourd that when soaked in water and peeled becomes the bath sponge or household scrubber we have all come to know and love.
There is an excellent article in the March/ April issue of Mother Earth Living Magazine written by Hannah Kincaid, Editor-in-chief.
Luffa seeds can be ordered online and found at most garden shops near the gourds. I recently discovered The Luffa Ranch in Murphy, NC and they too are a source of seeds and all things Luffa.
Start your seeds indoors and plant outside when there is no chance of frost for most locations this is around Mother’s Day in May.
Soaking and clipping your seeds also helps them germinate and sprout sooner. I would recommend doing this.
Give your luffas plenty of sunshine and water and a place to climb and in the Fall you should have sponges ready for harvest. They should turn brown and you can hear the seeds rattle around inside.
Soak your luffas and peel off their outer skin inside you will have the fibrous skeleton that is used to cleanse your skin. Make sure you keep your luffa super clean and dry between uses. you can clean your luffa in a pot of boiling water, in the dishwasher or in the washing machine when you wash your towels.
Here is a simple luffa cleanser you can make with the green outer peels of the young plants.
Green Luffa Skin Cleanser
1 cup green luffa peels
1 tablespoon aloe vera gel
1 teaspoon raw honey
1-2 tablespoons water
- Blend together. To use: Massage into damp skin.
You can also make a simple sugar scrub using grated luffa — simply grate dried luffa with a kitchen cheese grater. Here is the recipe:
Soothing Luffa Sugar Scrub
1 cup raw sugar
1 /4 cup almond oil
1 /2 teaspoon vitamin E oil
2 Tablespoons grated, dried luffa
- Stir together. To use: Massage into damp skin
I hope you try growing luffa this year and if you do — send me photos of your garden and how you are enjoying your plants! I will check back in the fall when I harvest mine this is what they look like right now