Luffas, a type of gourd, are climbing plants that will ramble up a trellis or fence and thrive in the heat and sun.
The plants grow easily but be sure to plant them in early spring to give the gourds a change to mature on the vines. You can direct sow them once danger of frost has passed or start with transplants.
You can harvest luffa gourds at various stages in their lifecycle. If you want to harvest them for food, pick them when they’re the size of a small zucchini. If you want to harvest them for sponges, wait until the skin and stem are brown and the leaves are starting to die back. Here’s a picture of a luffa that is in between these two stages. You’d want to leave this one on the vine and let it ripen further to harvest it for seeds and sponges.
Once you’ve stripped off the skin, you can remove the seeds (one luffa will produce more seeds than you’ll need in a season). To sterilize them, soak them in lemon water and hydrogen peroxide and let them dry in the sun.
Some benefits of growing luffa:
Bees love the flowers
They don’t seem to be affected by the squash vine borer
They make a pretty summertime privacy fence
Here’s some luffa sharing space with Malabar spinach in one of our gardens. This tree stump gets blasted all day by the Texas summer sun and whereas most plants wouldn’t be able to handle that, these two plants love it!