Luffa growing on vine

©Photo: Rajesh Odayanchal

Luffas are best known as bath scrubbers, but they actually start out as cucumber-like gourds.

Two species are commonly grown in Florida: angled luffa and smooth-fruited luffa. Both types can be eaten when young, but most gardeners grow them for their fibrous interior, which is useful for scrubbing the house and body!

Luffas are warm-season, climbing vines. Plant the seeds after the last danger of frost, making sure to give them plenty of room.

To make sponges, soak the mature fruit for several days, peel it, and remove the pulp. Rinse the remaining fibrous core, then lay it in the sun to dry. The resulting coarse sponge is a natural, biodegradable cleaning aid that can even be thrown in the washing machine.

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