Luffa Information - How To Grow Luffa - From Plant Starts

Growing Luffa from Plant Starts

Transplanting and Growing guide for Luffa (also called Loofah). This guide is for Plant Starts. There is also a guide for starting seeds indoors and for direct seed outdoors.


Most of this growing guide was obtained from Luffa Info. I did purchase some seeds from them two years ago and was very satisfied with both their information and seeds. Very reputable folks. I have added some comments from my experience growing luffa to their growing information.


Transplanting Plants

Once frost danger has passed, transplant gently into the ground outside. Luffa plants are slightly sensitive to transplant shock. Sitting the pots outside for a day or two before transplanting helps the plants adjust. If the soil is not warm, they will not grow. Space at least 18 inches apart. Two to four feet is better as vines need more space than roots.

Feeding Your Luffa

The roots need lots of space and food so mixing compost in the soil before planting helps them grow. It's preferable to do this a few months earlier, or even in the fall, to give it time to absorb into the soil. To grow totally organic luffa, mix in a larger amount of material to feed them throught the season and/or use organic fertilizers. Seedlings need mostly nitrogen. The vines also need potash and phosphate for blooming but can bloom prematurely if too much is added at the seedling stage. Try to keep a good balance of fertilizer elements or the ratio of male to female flowers may be altered. Too much fertilizer can burn and stunt the plants, especially if rain is lacking. Whatever fertilizers are used, mix well and work into the soil.

Seedlings are more vulnerable to damage by pests than the large vines. Establishing the plants is the hard part. They grow slowly while building a root system. Keep the weeds off them when they are small. A covering of mulch will warm the soil, reduce weeds, and increase yields in the long term. Small plants may need occasional watering until the roots become established. Once the luffa plants start to vine, you don't need to do much but add water if it gets too dry and fertilize if needed. The leaves will wilt during the day if they need water.

The vines need lots of climbing and growing space on a sturdy trellis. They grow well on arbors, gates, fencing, and lattice. The vines prefer to grow vertically on taller trellises if possible. They will climb a pole or wall with a rough surface. The vine tendrils need many contact points as the fruits can get very heavy. Avoid using insecticide near the blooms as the flowers require bees and other insects for pollination. A shortage of bees will reduce the yield. Ants are also attracted to the flowers. The flowers can be hand pollinated.

Extra seeds can be stored in a cool place and are typically good for a couple of years. It's best to seal them in airtight containers and refrigerate or freeze the seeds for long-term storage. I have tested seeds after three years and germination rate was over 80%.

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