So, let's firstly get one thing straight, Loofah doesn't come from the ocean🌊 Loofah is in fact a genus of tropical and subtropical vines in the cucumber family🥒 A few varieties are edible and are a delicacy in some cultures, but most are cultivated for their utilitarian value.
The longest loofah ever was grown in China in 2008 and reached a whopping 4.55m!
Loofah grows slowly and matures well into Autumn. It likes it hot🔥 So needs plenty of sunshine and adequate water in well drained soils. In these correct conditions the Loofah plant can grow as long as 30ft 😮 They not only make a great natural shade canopy, but also attract bees and other pollinators with their beautiful yellow flowers🌸
So want to grow your very own at home? Here's how👇
You will need:
🍯 Pots around 9cm and then larger for repotting (at least the size of a bucket)
💩 Compost, we recommend organic and peat-free compost
🚿 Watering Can, loofah like to be moist not wet
☀ Loofah love the sunshine, so ideally set them up in a greenhouse if you have one, if not keep them on a sunny windowsill in a warm room
Loofah's can be tricky to germinate so we recommend soaking them in warm water for a few hours before sowing them to encourage germination. Fill your smaller pot with compost and push your loofah seed, side on, into the soil about 1.5cm deep👏 Tap the pot to settle the soil. Now place them in your greenhouse or warm windowsill and give them a water. Remember than loofah like to be moist not wet😊 Germination can take between 1-3 weeks depending on how warm the environment is.
Once the roots are starting too grow and they seem large enough to handle then it's time to ease them out and plant them up into your bucket sized plant pot💃
Once you have successfully potted them up, it is time to also put some support for them to grow up. We used a wigwam made of canes!
From late May until October your loofah will grow. Like a fine wine, they get better with age and shouldn't be harvested until they are fully mature. So, in the meantime it is important to make sure they're comfortable💆♀️ Keep the compost moist by giving it a root soak at the same time each day - you can do this bby sitting it in the bath, or a tray of water💦 As your loofah fruits start to grow to 15-20cm long and you have 3/4 plants make sure to remove any others coming through. This will save its energy for the important task of growing. Always, always remember that loofah's like it warm but if any signs of mildew remove leaves affected.
As it matures, the loofah will start to lighten in colour, around November the fruits will start to firm up. Now, you can harvest your loofahs🥳 Be sure that the fibres have separated from the skin by firmly squeezing. Chop the fruit from its stalk and then chop off its top and bottom. Gently begin to pull the skin away and any remaining flesh to reveal the fibrous skeleton behind. Rinse it super well in water to get rid of any seeds inside then hang up to dry. There you have it - your very own loofah sponge💙