If your mind is blown by the fact loofahs are not actually sea sponges then this is the plant to grow!
We’ve found that this plant thrives in a sub-tropical environment and is relatively pest and disease resistant. It loves humidity and a lot of water so is also ideal for those with Aquaponic Systems.
It grows as an extremely vigorous vine, so be prepared for it to reach to the heavens (can exceed 9 metres if you let it). It can create a beautiful shade or screen for the summer months.
The flowers are incredible, what looks like one single yellow flower has over a dozen buds that open and fall off each day, and you can watch the Australian Native blue banded bees flock to it. We always grow it now just for that reason.
The fruit itself looks like a large cucumber, you can eat the smaller fruit when they are around the size of your thumb before they become fibrous (we’ve not tried it yet) however if left on the vine to grow and dry it will produce a beautiful fibrous sponge that can be used for beauty products or kitchen scourers (we love it for cleaning fish tanks). You can harvest once dry on the vine or alternatively when you press slightly on the outside of the fruit and it gives a little. If your fruit is rock hard at harvest it’s likely the fibres aren’t ready and you’ll eventually end up with a rotten mess.
The seed germination rate is between 50-80%, but really you only need one plant with one mature fruit to set you up for succession in the future.
If you live in a subtropical environment you can plant your loofah in early spring right through to late summer, it will keep producing until it starts to cool down (usually we pull ours down when the flowers slow down around Easter). We usually don’t get ours going until it’s too hot for anything else to survive.
Want to try growing your own Loofah? Grab some of our 2017 Loofah seeds here.