Why I Grow My Own Luffa Sponges (and why you should too!)

by Texas Homesteader ~ 
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Several years ago I became aware that you could actually grow your own luffa (or loofah) sponge in the garden.

Whaaaaa…..??

You mean those little scrubby things you use in the shower? Who knew??!!

Now I always grow my own luffa sponges and couldn’t be happier!

You can grow your own luffa sponge in your garden. They're easy to grow, eco friendly and fully compostable. #TexasHomesteader

(Note: Some links in this post are for further information from earlier posts I’ve written. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click them and buy something (almost anything, not just the item noted) I could receive a tiny commission. But the price you pay will NOT change. It’s an easy way to support this blog without anything coming out of your pocket. So click often! Thank you!)

OK I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I’d always thought luffas were some sort of product from the sea. But apparently not!

Homegrown Luffa Benefits

There are several benefits I’ve found to growing my own luffa. (I’ll discuss them in detail a little further below.)

You can grow your own luffa sponge in your garden. They're easy to grow, eco friendly and fully compostable. #TexasHomesteader

  • Young luffa can actually be eaten like squash.
  • Luffa is easy to grow and produces heavily.
  • Luffa sponges are fully compostable at the end of their useful life.
  • Mature luffa can be used to exfoliate your skin.
  • Luffa pieces can be used to scrub your shower.
  • Use luffa to scrub & clean your dishes.
  • Save soap and soapy mess by turning luffa into a soap holder.
  • Interesting Christmas gift idea – homemade luffa soap

Growing Luffa

Luffa has a longer maturation date. It’s said they need about 4 months of warm weather to produce properly.

So I’ll often start them in my Indoor Greenhouse to give them a jump-start. Then I plant the seedlings in the garden with the rest of my veggie plants when the danger of frost has passed.

That luffa grows into a long, tenacious vine. Soon pretty yellow flowers began to appear. Our honeybees loved them and visited them every day. But at first I didn’t see any luffa growing.

Yellow luffa bloom. You can grow your own luffa sponge in your garden. They're easy to grow, eco friendly and fully compostable. #TexasHomesteader

Then one day a tiny luffa appeared. YEA! I was pretty excited because this particular year I’d planted luffa specifically to include with our homemade Christmas gifts.

So I was hoping I’d get a good harvest that year. (don’t worry, I DID!)

Young Luffa Are Edible

If you harvest those luffas while they’re young and small you can actually eat them. I liken them to a type of zucchini or squash, although the flavor is slightly different.

But you’ll want to harvest them young – when they’re only about 5″ long or so.

Young luffa can be eaten if they're under 5" long. You can grow your own luffa sponge in your garden. They're easy to grow, eco friendly and fully compostable. #TexasHomesteader

I like to slice them and sauté them in a little butter with onions and garlic.

And I’ve noticed in my garden that squash bugs don’t seem to bother luffa. So I will often plant and enjoy luffa along with my zucchini.

Since luffas take longer in the season to produce I’ll enjoy zucchini in the early garden months. Then when the squash bugs decimate the zucchini plants (and despite my best efforts they aaaaalways do) I’ll use the luffa for a zucchini substitute for the rest of the gardening season.

Squash bugs don't seem to bother my luffa. You can grow your own luffa sponge in your garden. They're easy to grow, eco friendly and fully compostable. #TexasHomesteader

Maturing Luffa For Sponges

But if you want to grow luffa into sponges, just let them go wild! I allow the vines to grow along the entire length of the fence between my garden and chicken yard.

The vines offer shade to the chickens and about 50 luffa sponges for me.

Luffa need a heavy trellis to support the vines and growing luffa. You can grow your own luffa sponge in your garden. They're easy to grow, eco friendly and fully compostable. #TexasHomesteader

Soon those luffas will grow to 1-2 feet long or more. Let me tell ya, that fence was feeling the strain of the weight of all those luffas!

So you want to make sure you have a sturdy trellis to hold them.

Harvesting Mature Luffa Sponges

When the luffa matures it begins to feel lighter as the once-dense inside become dry & fibrous. The skin feels thinner and begins to turn yellow. I’ll watch them until I feel they’re ready to harvest from the vine.

You can allow the luffa to dry completely on the vine if you like. The skin will turn brown and be hard and crunchy.

If I’ve allowed the luffa to dry that way I’ll harvest the dried luffa and squeeze it gently all the way around to crack the outer shell.

Then I’ll pull the hardened pieces of skin from the luffa.

Dried luffa can be peeled, but it takes more time. You can grow your own luffa sponge in your garden. They're easy to grow, eco friendly and fully compostable. #TexasHomesteader

Easier Peeling Tip

But I’ve found it’s significantly easier to peel the luffa if I’ll harvest when they’re just beginning to yellow and the skin is thin. By harvesting at this time I can peel a whole luffa in seconds.

I’ll take a knife and score along the thin yellowed skin. Then I’ll work my fingertips beneath the skin and peel the luffa skin away. I’m left with a very wet, very green fibrous luffa.

There’s a sweet spot in peeling time here. Harvest the luffa too early and the skin is still thick and firmly attached.

That means you’ll have to pull it off in very wet chunks. It takes a long time to peel and tends to mar the tender still-green luffa beneath.

But if you can time it right, the skins peel off effortlessly and your luffa is intact. So I’m always watching for the sweet spot timeframe to harvest and peel my luffa.

There's a sweet spot when it's super easy to peel luffa. You can grow your own luffa sponge in your garden. They're easy to grow, eco friendly and fully compostable. #TexasHomesteader

After they’re peeled I’ll set the luffas aside and allow them to air dry completely. Soon they’re very dry and very lightweight.

If you shake them you can hear the seeds rattling inside. (and there will be LOTS of seeds!)

How To Use Dried Luffa

Shower

There are many ways we use the dry luffa. Most people are familiar with the benefits of using a luffa in the shower to exfoliate their skin. Many people buy luffa sponges for the shower, they’re often made of plastic. Ugh.

But growing your own luffa makes for an eco-friendly, compostable & zero-waste luffa sponge.

I feel at first use the home-grown luffa feels a little harsh to my skin. So for that first use I’ll wet it down first and allow the fibers to soften until I can squeeze it with my hand. Then scrub away. 

Cleaning Shower Walls

I also have a larger section of luffa on the windowsill in my shower.

After I’ve taken my shower I’ll often use this all-natural ‘scrubby sponge’ to clean the shower walls and shower-door glass.

It keeps the soap scum at bay.

Scrubbing Kitchen Dishes

The dried luffa can be used as a kitchen scrubby sponge too. After the first use you’re easily able to wet & squeeze the luffa.

I use my homegrown compostable luffa for cleaning dishes the same as you would use a sponge or even one of those green plastic scrubby things.

Luffa can scrub clean dishes. You can grow your own luffa sponge in your garden. They're easy to grow, eco friendly and fully compostable. #TexasHomesteader

So I keep a luffa sponge on the edge of my kitchen sink to use to wash dishes. No plastic! The luffa can simply be composted when it’s done enough heavy duty.

Soap Saver

We like to use bar soap because there’s no plastic container to dispose of. (Why yes I hate plastic, why do you ask? LOL)

RancherMan & I have made homemade bar soap for over a decade now. We make several different kinds such as Lavender/Rosemary Soap, refreshing Morning Motivation Mint Soap and even Shampoo Bars.

But you know how it is with bar soap. You use it to lather you hands and then return the soap to the edge of the sink where it sits in a puddle of water, dries slowly and makes a goopy mess. 

So you buy those little soap holder thingies to put the soap on. But I’m telling you there’s no need when you’re growing luffa!

Luffa slice holds soap off the sink's surface. You can grow your own luffa sponge in your garden. They're easy to grow, eco friendly and fully compostable. #TexasHomesteader

I just cut a thick slice of luffa and place it on the edge of my sink to hold my bar soap. When I use the soap to wash my hands I return it to this luffa slice.

There’s plenty of airflow through the luffa to allow the soap to dry properly. And no messy soap sludge on the sink, plus my soap lasts longer!

Christmas Gifts

Y’all know we gift Homemade Gifts for Christmas. We just feel it helps us to live our values. And it also assures those gift recipients are being given real gifts straight from our hearts.

We purposely grew luffa one year to include with our homemade Christmas gift baskets. Included in each gift basket was some homemade soap, a home-grown dried and peeled luffa & some Soapberry Shampoo.

Luffa Christmas gifts. You can grow your own luffa sponge in your garden. They're easy to grow, eco friendly and fully compostable. #TexasHomesteader

We even made RancherMan’s favorite luffa soap. We cut the dried luffa into thick circles and wedged each piece into a *Silicone Muffin Pan. Then we poured the soap on top.

Finally we let them cool and popped the soaps out of the muffin molds. Voila!

So if you’d like to grow your own luffa, it’s easy to do and they grow abundantly. It’s a great zero-waste step to take for so many helpful household purposes.

~TxH~

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3 thoughts on “Why I Grow My Own Luffa Sponges (and why you should too!)

  1. Beth

    I wished my climate had a longer growing season. I struggle to grow squash in my raised beds. Might have to think about a greenhouse project that is far enough away from the trees.

    Reply
  2. Paula Boales

    Once luffa are dried, you can soak them in water. The skin peels off very easily!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Good to know, – thanks for the tip Paula. I’ll certainly give that a try next time. Depending upon the harvest time, peeling the luffa was either super-fast or tedious. I’ll try soaking the dry ones next time and look forward to easier peeling. But DANG it might be a while – my two little luffa plants netted me over 50 luffa. So even gifting out several of them I have plenty to last me a while. This year’s luffa will probably just be grown to eat. ~TxH~

      Reply

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