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How and when to harvest home luffa (loofah) sponges

Harvesting my luffa sponges was a bit of a confusing endeavor. I read so many “How-To” articles and felt they were pretty misleading in ways. The truth is these little cucurbits and their gourd family is bewildering!

I’m going to explain to you what I’ve learned about harvesting luffa sponges. I’ll also let you know how I did it; what worked for me and what did not in this step-by-step guide.

Keep in mind that you might find a different method that works better for you – and that’s fine. This is a great starting point if you’re new to growing your own sponges. If you can find an easy way that doesn’t require much effort and works, then stick with it!

How to and when to harvest luffa sponges for the best product.

I told you all I’d be back about harvesting when I wrote about growing luffa sponges. Harvesting time does not have to be stressful like it was for me and harvesting loofah gourds CAN be fun!

After all the reading I did without finding what I was looking for, I was so frustrated. Additionally, I was scared to harvest my gourds! It took such a long time to get here, and I didn’t want to blow it now.

I wondered if I was going to harvest them too early, or too late, and ruin them. Growing luffas had been such a fun activity and I didn’t want all my energy put it to go to waste. 

So, I decided to start in phases at the end of the season. Once my gourds started changing colors, I started trying to find what would work, being sure not to harvest immature fruit. This was a great decision because now I can let you know what worked for me. You can avoid the frustration I experienced!

Please keep in my though, that at the time of writing this I am living in West. Central Florida (Zone 9a/b) so I have a very long growing season and a greater chance of having time to make mistakes. If you’re growing this amazing plant in a cooler climate, this process might require a little patience.

Enough chit-chat, though. Let’s learn how to harvest our luffa sponges today without letting our mature gourds and energy go to waste!

harvest luffa gourds

A quick recap of what these tropical fruits are

Part of the gourd family, this vining plant goes by a few different names including, but not limited to:

  • Dishrag gourd
  • Sponge gourd
  • Dishcloth gourd
  • Luffa acutangula
  • Luffa aegyptiaca
  • Luffa cylindrica
  • Smooth luffa (depending types of luffas)

A common species to see in the backyard garden, loofahs are a cucurbit vegetable gourd that produces beautiful yellow flowers. A mature luffa gourd will produce a fibrous sponge, but the immature-green fruits are an edible fruit, also. 

A tropical plant, luffa fruits require good drainage, even soil moisture and a sturdy trellis. You want to make sure your soil isn’t compact and easily sheds excess water as to not water log your plants or get downy mildew, which can affect the outer shell.

In a zone with a longer growing season, you can direct sow luffa seeds in well-drained soil. Some folks recommend giving the seeds a couple strokes on fine grand sand paper to break down the seed coat and promote quicker germination. I have never attempted that method.

In cooler climates, loofah seeds can be sown in a home garden once you know that frost-free days have arrived. You can get a head start by planting the seeds inside before the last frost has arrived, and always be aware of your projected first frost date. Plant your luffas in small seed starting containers if you plan to transplant them, or sow them in large pots and simply move them outside when the weather is optimal. 

Quite possibly the most important growing tip when growing natural loofah sponges is to make sure you have a lot of space for the vining plant to stretch. 

So now that we’ve recapped, let’s talk about how to harvest your own luffa sponge. If you’re not done learning about luffa sponges, check out my article on growing luffa sponges!

External color

You can’t go by color alone when it comes to harvesting loofah sponges. That is slightly aggravating, I know. 

When reading about harvesting loofah plants, you’ll read to only pick your luffas when they have brown skin and are dry on the vine. On the contrary, You’ll also read to only pick them when they still yellow/green skin to avoid dark spots or mold on the internal fibrous network of the sponge. 

In my experience, you do not want them dried up and hard hanging on the vine. This means your luffa sponge is more likely to already be molding (at least if you live in Central Florida). If you overcame the issue early on of powdery mildew from overcrowding, then you’ll want to also make sure you avoid allowing your natural sponge to mold before ever getting to use them.

Instead, look for gourds that are turning from green to yellow, making their way to a brown luffa. 

With mine, a little brown was okay but a fully green loofah wasn’t ready to pick. 

Once the skin of the fruit started to brown, I took them down.

Check out our Microgreens at True Leaf Market

Texture when harvesting luffa sponges

Harvest your loofah sponge before it has completely dried out. Keep an eye on your luffa plants so they stay healthy and don’t dry out. Your green luffas will have a slight “give” when you squeeze them and be anywhere from 6-12 inches long. Though the length of the fruit is also not the best way to determine when a ripe luffa is ripe enough to pick.

If the gourd feels pretty soft and squishy, leave it a day and check again tomorrow. Picking your gourd too early will make it hard to dry the sponge out while avoiding mold.

The browner your gourds get, the harder the skin will get. I read this was the perfect time to pick them. As mentioned before, this method always meant more mold in my sub-tropical climate. And a bleach treatment did not remedy the issue. They were headed for the compost bucket immediately. Thankfully, they are biodegradable sponges.

The confusing part comes when I tell you the very first luffa sponge I ever harvested was rock hard. 

It sounded like a maraca when I shook it from the seeds; this luffa revealed no mold when peeled! 

For the rest of the luffas I waited to peel, they looked like this:

Molded luffa sponges that completely dried on the vine.

Internal color and peeling

After harvesting your luffas sponges using a pair of pruners, you’re ready to peel them! 

The first step is to hit the gourd on a hard surface a few times to loosen the seeds. 

Next, cut the bottom end of the luffa sponge off. To be clear, this is the end that was not attached to the vine.

If your gourd is extremely dry and sounds like a rattle, the seeds will fall out quite easily. My luffa sponges needed to be harvested a little sooner than that. It was a little more difficult to get the seeds out when peeling them immediately. 

Grab some bypass pruners, cut down the inside of the luffa flesh and peel the skin all the way off! They’ll be much harder to peel if you wait until they’re completely dried on the vine.

If you find your luffa sponges are difficult to peel, fill a vessel with water and soak your gourds for 2-5 minutes. 

Soaking your luffa sponges with the skin on should soften and loosen the skin, making peeling much easier.

harvest luffa sponges
This is what the skin from a very dry luffa sponge looks like.
Harvest Luffa Sponges:  How to and When to Harvest
This is the internal skin of a luffa perfectly ready for harvest. Still with some moisture and easy to peel!
Want to keep track of your harvest with my free homesteading PDFs?

Completing the harvest and preparing for use

After you’ve removed all of your seeds and peeled your luffa sponge rinse all the sap off the sponge itself. This is an essential step!

The easiest way to do this is to get a garden house with a sprayer. Use the “pressure wash” or “jet” setting, or something close to it with strong water pressure. You’re looking for a straight stream of water that comes out with high pressure. 

Spray your sponge up and down until the slimy feeling has gone away. You’re also removing any extra dirt or plant particles while spraying the gourd.

There’s no reason to be super persnickety doing this. You’re going to use your sponge in the water later anyway and the sap won’t harm you. 

If you would rather get all the sap off on the first round (maybe you’re selling them), then spray them as thoroughly as possible and them finish scrubbing them under warm water to remove the rest of the sap.

After you dry your luffa sponge, you’ve successfully harvested your luffa sponges! 

Some folks will soak their luffas in a bucket of water and bleach solution to disinfect them, or even bleach dye them. I didn’t find this step to be needed. Had I felt the need to disinfect, I likely would have tried vinegar first before utilizing bleach.

Learning how to dry out luffa gourds is easy.

I laid out a couple of towels on my kitchen counter, put my luffas on top of them and patted them down with another towel. You can also elevate them with some baking racks if they’re saturated. 

Over a day or two, rotate your sponges and pat/squeeze them dry (be gentle). Once they’re completely dry, they’re ready to use!

If you’re wondering how to dry green loofahs, the answer is ‘carefully’. When luffas are still green, they’re still quite saturated with sap/natural moisture. 

If you had to pick your loofahs early, spray them well with a hose and let them dry. Check them often to make sure they don’t mold. If you can put a fan on them for constant airflow, that would be great!

Any time you can let your luffa gourds mature on the vine and avoid peeling when they’re green, harvesting with be easier.

Check out our Cover Crops at True Leaf Market

If you want to read a more scientific study on harvesting and drying luffa gourds, check out this incredibly thorough Luffa Research Report conducted and release by North Carolina State University.

Luffa gourds and danger of frost

If you’ve had a fruitful luffa season but are expecting danger of frost, here are a few tips for saving your loofah gourds!

Before we talk about your options in this situation, I want to remind you that I’m in Florida. I’ve not personally had to deal with luffas in the winter.

BUT since I appreciate you being here on my page, I did some research for you and we’re going to solve your problem. By the time you leave this page, I hope you have a plan that you feel good about! 

Keep in mind that gardening is sometimes a trial and error deal. I truly hope you don’t lose your luffas. 

If they’re grown but green, remember you can harvest and peel them. They’ll just be a little harder to peel and have more sap. No big deal! In any case, the longer you can leave them in full sun, the better.

Update: I have since moved to Eastern Kentucky where we actually get snow! I already miss the long growing season that Florida provided. But I don’t miss the summer months and hot weather! Where I live in Kentucky, it starts cooling down in late summer at night. This is my second year here and I look forward to trying to plant my loofah seedlings next year! 

It’ll be my first year growing my own garden here, and the last frost date is around April 20. I’ll likely start planting my seeds right away, using row cover to protect them from cold temperatures and risk of frost. I’d expect the luffa vines to produce the first flowers at mid-July or the beginning of August. I would hope to have young fruits for the first time by the first week of August or so. If they grow similar to how they did on my Florida homestead (and I have the good luck I did!), then I should have a large gourd or two by the end of August, no later than mid-September. 

Use this flow chart to figure out what your next step should be.

 flow chart for harvesting luffas

Summary for harvesting luffa sponges

Have you grown and harvested luffa sponges before? How did it go and what was your method? Did you keep track of your harvest? What have you used your luffas for

Harvest Luffa Sponges:  How to and When to Harvest

I was so sad last year when I missed the mark for growing in Kentucky. The beautiful, yellow female flowers were such a pleasant addition to the yard in Florida (and the bumble bees they lured im!)

I plan to try growing other types of gourds eventually since the luffas grew so great. I’ll have to build a stronger trellis system: I think chain link fences would even suffice! It’s so interesting how the processes change with each different climate. 

If you’re in North America, or anywhere else in the world, and are growing luffa sponges, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!

If I grow luffas this year in Kentucky, I’ll be sure to create a new video or a tiktok – make about it!

harvest luffa sponges

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  1. Faye Tackett says:

    Our luffas are still dark green and we are expecting a frost over the weekend to mid next week. they are quite large, over 12″ most of them. If they are not ready to harvest what can I do to make sure I can get seed for next year? Thank You

  2. I live in Athens GA. I have one loofah vine in a four gallon pot that has grown all over the place. There are 14 that are at least 16” long in my Loropedalum. Eight are growing in the maple and oak over my shed, two are growing on my shed. Four were growing on my gable, but the fell and are now supported by my yaupon. I know I am supposed to wait until they start to change colors. They are all still happily green as the vine is slowly dying. I think the one on my gutter might be 16”, the rest are all 18-24”.

    So if I harvest them now, I cut and peel them and let them dry maybe with no heat in my convection oven?

    This thing really went crazy, maybe 200’ or more of vine in total. One plant in one pot. I have been trying to grow loofahs for years. I guess I found the right spot, finally.

  3. Rosanne Tunstall, New Zealand says:

    Hi I’m in New Zealand and I have used pure janola bleach for discolored or a whiter look OK. Do not leave to long in bleach tho. Check every half hour. Deseed first if you want viable seed for keeping. Rinse after bleaching and hang to dry again. Haven’t tried but you could probably add food coloring either to bleach or after rinsing put luffa in colored water bath for a while. Rinse then dry again. I will use mine for floral art.

  4. Gay Cormier says:

    Started my plants in greenhouse at the end of March, 2022. End of June I picked my first loofah which had already turned brown. I live in SE Texas and we recently had some extremely hot days (100°+) so I don’t know if that made a difference. Was expecting to have to wait until late fall. It was still exciting!

  5. Jan Vestal says:

    I,m a first timer with luffas but having so uch fun. I have a bevy of grans and great grans and have about quit BUYING gifts for Christmas. I am giving my gang luffa sponges . They may think I am daff but I have had such fun harvesting and preparing them. I may add a nice little bar of soap to go with them I am giving to a few neighbors that we don’t actually BUY things but just little love gifts t I actually didn’t grow them. my next door neighbor did and didn’t want to fool with them so I have had fun getting them ready. I did soak a few in a little chlorax to the few that had a little mildew on them. I live in upper South Carolina and they have been beautiful on a fence in my neighbors yard. Give it a try and save yourself some Christmas shopping

    1. That’s exactly what I grew mine for is Christmas gifts. I live in the Midwest. And we’re getting ready to have a Frost so I’m going to have to harvest most of mine green. This is a little more work than I thought it would be but I didn’t start mine as early as I should have…. First time grower so I didn’t know. I’m still excited I hope they turn out

      1. Faye Tackett says:

        We live in Illinois and may have frost next week. Ours are also large but still green. how did it work out for you harvesting them green? Any tips? Thank you!

        1. Hi Tammy! I haven’t personally had to deal with that situation, but my research (and what friends have done) is pinch off any existing flowers so that the plant puts all its energy into finishing off the gourds. The day of frost, harvest the luffas. If they still feel very green, create a nice drying room for them (where there is minimal moisture). If they feel like they’re started to dry out, you can peel them and clean them and let them cure out of their skin. If you have enough of a harvest, I’d say to sacrifice one to get a better idea of what point in the cycle they’re at! Best of luck to you and CONGRATS of your luffa harvest!

          1. Faye Scott Tackett says:

            Thank you!

  6. Jim & Karen says:


    First, let us comment and complement you on this site. Between your research and user comments, we found it one of the most beneficial, especially for luffa harvesting. So, a quick recap of our experience this year:

    1) we live in the Annapolis, MD area, started 6 plants indoors in March and planted 6 seeds directly outdoors in May. The plants were really slow at getting going, but once they did, WOW, they seemed to grow about a foot a day.
    2) Eventually we got to the voluminous and beautiful flowering stage, which attracted a huge number of bumble bees (among others)
    3) With so much foliage, it was difficult to see if any luffa’s were developing, but we did spot a few in July/August.
    4) The plants grew so much, they eventually began using (with permission) our neighbors fence and tree (growing up the tree about 30 feet). Skipping ahead a bit here, I have some luffas to harvest about 25 feet up the tree)!
    5) In mid-late September, we began to see MANY rather large fruits. The ones on the ground curled, the ones hanging on the fence/tree were pretty straight. the longest being 27″ with a 11″ circumference.
    6) With frost not too far off, we began harvesting some of the fully green and/or barely yellow luffa’s. We broke the thick green skin by stepping on the fruits, then peeling the skin away from the fibrous inside.
    7) We then cut the luffa’s to size (about 10″ each) with a serrated bread knife and then began a washing and de-seeding process in the kitchen sick using regular tap water.
    8) Once de-gunked and de-seeded, we dried the luffa’s in an old towel as much as possible.
    9) Our oven has a proof setting for bread that heats to about 95 degrees and turns on the convection fan. We have used that to completely dry the luffa’s out, taking about 24 hours over two days (don’t run the oven at night!).
    10) So far, this has worked VERY WELL for the 12 luffa’s we have harvested. As stated earlier, the plants seemed very productive. We probably have another 40-45 fruits to harvest. Hopefully, the frost will hold off for another few weeks !!

    Thanks so much for researching this information, developing this www site, and allowing others to share their experiences.

    1. Hi Jim and Karen! Thank you so much for the kind words. It brings me great joy to know that the information I’m sharing is actually helpful and not just empty words. Next, thank you for sharing this experience with me. I love hearing other folks’ stories. What a wonderful harvest! Best of luck to you in every one of your gardening endeavors and please let me know if I can be of assistance!

      1. Tom Perez says:

        My fist attemp at luffas so far everything is in line with the majority of the comments I’ve seen. I had one that wad trapped against the fence and turned yellow . I cut it off then hung it on a shelf on my inclosed porch . It is ready after a week to peel and the seeds are rattling like a baby rattle.

    2. Wow thanks for commenting I’m getting ready to harvest my loofahs that I also grew on my fence. I wish I would have thought about putting some next to my tree. I have trees in my yard that are probably over 100 years old and very tall. I probably wouldn’t get to harvest the ones at the top but they would have been fun watching them grow maybe next year. But your info on how to harvest the green ones in both the article and your comment are giving me courage. I was trying to avoid this but with the frost coming I don’t want to lose the ones that I have. Thank you

  7. Great info here! I decided to grow luffa this year because it’s edible. When young, less than two inches in diameter, they’re tender and delicious! So if you seem to be overloaded with luffas on your vines, and especially towards the end of the season when they won’t mature in time before first frost, clip off those young ones, slice and sautee or use like zucchini. I highly recommend them for eating!

  8. I may have missed this answer in other comments. Is it possible to save an overly dried out loofah that has some mold and discoloration on it? Can you use a mixture of vinegar or bleach with water to get the discoloration our?
    Are these seeds still good?
    Thank you!
    Best, most comprehensive loofah harvesting article I have read! Thank you!

    1. Hi Amelia! I would try a mixture of vinegar first and then maybe a mixture of light bleach if the vinegar doesn’t give you the result you want. Just keep in mind with the bleach that it is of course a harsh chemical, so go light if you plan to use it on your skin and wash it well after. I’ll be happy to add a section about this! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Best of luck to you!

    2. I haven’t tried it myself, but I read on another web page that OxyClean powder can help with any discoloration.

  9. Doreen Schickling says:

    This is my first year growing luffa. I too thought they came from the sea, and when I saw the seeds I thought “no way – I have to grow these”! I live in western NY and started them under grow lamps in March. They are on a trellis about 4 feet from the garden fence – they have taken over the trellis and the garden fence. They are 4 feet from my peppers and 6 feet from my tomatoes and I haven’t had any problems with either. The plants are huge, the flowers gorgeous. There are tons of squash growing….I do occasionally trim them with the lawn mower, as they are trying to trail across the grass and into the woods! I am keeping an eye on them to see when they are ready to harvest. Thanks for all the advice. I feel prepared!
    Even if the luffa don’t work, I will grow them next year for the flowers….I also got bee hives this year so I am all about blossoms.

  10. I grew them for the first time this year in south Louisiana. I had never seen anyone grow them here before. The vine was huge and lush then the beautiful flowers came. They were so happy in the morning sun and yes they are one of the best plants at attracting pollinators. I had tons of gourds and picked them at different stages and yet all were either not ready and the fibers weren’t separated yet- think uncooked spaghetti squash or they were almost all brown and moldy on the inside. I even had some that were very mushy inside. Any advice on this? Maybe the ones that seemed not ready really were? We did get a lot of rain towards the end of the season too.
    It’s worth trying again just for the flowers!

    1. Hi Jessi! That’s an interesting situation. It sounds that you picked them slightly too soon if the fibers weren’t separated. I live in Florida and we get a ton of rain in the summer, so I would be surprised if that is what the problem was. I would say to wait a little longer and keep an eye on color and also feel them often. I hope you have more success this coming season but, yes, I do agree that they’re worth growing even just for the pollinators! I wish you the best of luck and feel free to reach out via email if I can help problem solve once the season comes. I’ll be growing them, too, here in Florida!

    2. You can eat young gourds. Peel the skin, cut half inche thick.
      Stir fry with garlic, salt and pepper.

  11. Richelle Torres says:

    Thanks for sharing your journey! This is my second season growing luffa, my first season was a major fail! I’m definitely in the trial by error phase because my first gourd was great, second was a fail (black and moldy on the inside) and the third onward were perfect!

    1. Hi Richelle! That’s kind of the name of the game, isn’t it? I missed last growing season and look forward to growing luffas again this year. I’m so glad you were able to use some of your harvests and I wish you the best of luck in your future luffa endeavors. Thank you for sharing with me!

  12. Michael C McCabe says:

    Thank you for the growing tips. This was my second year. The first year there were flowers but no gourds. Since this is SW Michigan I decided to start indoors this year under LED lights. I started in mid March with 4” pots. 2 seeds per pot. Taking about 15 days to sprout. By mid-May I planted them outside. 12 in all. We have frosts into early June! This year. I set up wire fence trellises. I fertilized with fish emulsion from TSC. We have a sandy Loam soil. Also as a note. Wherever the vine grows it will stunt adjacent veggies. Tomato’s, Peppers, Eggplants were stunted and/or didn’t produce fruit. So you’ll want to keep them away from those Plants. It didn’t seem to bother cucumbers, pickle cukes, zucchini, yellow squash. Just the nightshade veggies. Out of the 12 plants I got 10 loofas. I picked them at the first frost. Some were yellowing. Most were green. When picked. I laid them out to dry. 1/2 turned brown. 2 stayed green. The brown in the skin seems to add tannin to the loofa final color. So if you can peel them before they turn brown it might be better.
    I peeled them all today. Slitting them lengthwise then unwrapping the cover. Brown were hard and had to use a spoon and get the skin off like scaling a fish. Yellowing gourds were easier to peel and less spotting in the sponge color. None of the loofas had free shaking seeds. But with the ends cut off and a bucket of chlorox water they could be worked out the ends. I can’t use the seeds because I had other gourds, zucchini, cucumbers that cross pollinated and were flowering at the same time.
    The two green ones were hardest to peel.
    They all have some spotting mold discoloration but I plan to bleach again after they dry on my floor heat ventilation registers. Next year I’ll grow them on the fence, away from the garden veggies.

    1. Angelique Stevens says:

      Thanks for posting! I am in Colorado and want to grow luffas, but was a bit scared until I read your post. Since I already have a grow tent for all my other veggies, I will try your method next year. And thanks so much for the tip about nightshade veggies. You saved next year’s tomato crop!

    2. Pat Singer says:

      This was my first year growing luffas. I had 5 plants which I had started from seed. I planted them with a couple of varieties of tomatoes. The tomatoes and the luffa seemed to get along as both produced a lot of fruit. I got ten luffas and more tomatoes than I can ever eat, all grown in a 4 foot by 4 foot by 2 feet high raised bed. The loofas used the tomato baskets and the tomato vines to climb on. Being a novice loofa grower I just kept everything watered and hoped for the best. We had the hottest summer on record, so all the plants were quite happy. I live in Chemainus on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Maybe the climate here is perfect. I did start them indoors in peat pots, as I heard they do not like their roots disturbed when transplanting. I also heard that loofas were very touchy and sensitive and will just die out of spite.

  13. Teresa Montoya says:

    So glad I found this article…I live in Ky and this is my second year growing loofahs…the first year I just planted a couple vines and got a few… I lost a lot due to mold..I let them dry hard on the vine…this year they took over, I had a couple hundred easy but lost quite a few because I planted late, didn’t know about pruning and they didn’t mature…I have had a horrible time figuring out which ones to pick, so I have been going by weight and the more play around the better I get…I agree, the yellow turning to brown seems to be the best..I have peeled some underripe ones and still got a nice loofah, they were hard to clean, a lot of vegetable matter, and the fibers arent as tight and compact but no mold worries and actually a lot softer…I have found that a lot of mine have a blemish or two so I soak in a mild bleach solution, rinse very well, dry for a bit on a towel and Ive been throwing them in the dryer…they get real hard almost like dehydrated and any left behind seeds fall out (I hope that isn’t bad for my dryer) 10 minutes in some water and they plump right back up to their original size…so I will plans some next year and see if I can do better with some of your tips…will definitely have to get them planted sooner…Im hoping to sell some at the farmers market if I get better at growing them..will be using them for gifts with homemade soap for friends, family and clients this year…

    1. Hi Teresa! That is so awesome that you successfully grew so many luffas this year! Sorry to hear about last year’s crop. I’m glad this post helped you determine when to pick them. It can be hard because it seems in different climates they can be safely picked at different times. As for your dryer, I’d imagine it wouldn’t harm anything as long as seeds are getting lodged in cracks. Maybe try to get as many out, first! LOL. I hope you’re successful at the farmer’s market and thank you for stopping by to share your experience with me!

    2. Thanks 4 your input on the above post from Chelsea Wells – Barrett found both your input and hers informative and worthy of reading… Thanks 2 u both I’m reafy to pick my remaining loffah even tho there still somewhat green my 1st yr 2019 no luck with even one growing on the vine 2020 has beeen better 3 plants and got 7 loffahs…looking foward to 2021 season ….Nov 17, 2020 stay safe

      1. Hi Jim! I’m so glad you found the information helpful and you had a successful year growing luffas. Cheers to 2021 and many more years of growing luffas!

    3. I’d think the seeds would not be good for the dryer BUT slipping a few into an accessories bag – or any mesh type bag…or even old nylons would catch the seeds while drying the luffas.

  14. Thank you for all of this information!! Harvesting mine today!

  15. Hello Chelsea and many thanks to you and others who posted for all of the great information! 🙂

    I am a Zone 5b/6a Master Gardener growing luffas for the first time. A friend gave me some soaps with a luffa ‘slice’ inside a few years ago. I loved them and want to make them. Should I use a hand saw to slice when dry or my trusty Felco pruners and slice when moist? I think that the discs may be easier to dry. Any thoughts?

    My second thought is that drying may be accelerated by using a wire rack in a convection oven at low temperature with the door cracked. Anyone ever tried that?

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!!

    1. Hi Susie! I’m happy to help and, yes, a lot of the comments on this page are equally as helpful as my writings! And that’s awesome! I personally sliced mine with a bread knife after they were dry. They’re pretty hardy plants, though, so I think that even if you cut them while wet, they pop right back up when dry and have a great shape.

      And yes, your second thought is totally accurate! A wire rack in the oven at a low temp is totally doable. I’ve read in comments of folks drying them that way, especially when they had to harvest early because of frost.

      I absolutely love and appreciate that you’ve taken the time to share with me. Let’s keep the conversation going!

      1. I used kitchen/meat scissors when still wet…worked great & didn’t change the shape. On large ones I took a snip & cut around, going back to make 1 cut through center on incision.

  16. Diana Best says:

    I’m first time grower of loofah.just picked the brown ones and they were so easy to get out of shell.more to come.some have little bugs a nd I saw a worm in another. after using bleach water will they be safe to use?they are a beautiful vine.so many seeds to share.thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Diana!
      I never used bleach water but know people that do. As long as you wash them thoroughly and let them dry completely, they’ll be safe to use! I’m so glad you had a great harvest. Thanks for sharing your experience with me! Enjoy your sponges!

    2. For ours we soaked in hydrogen peroxide water in a clear tub and left in the sun for a few hours. Then dried in the sun. No mold on them at all still on the 2019 crop.

  17. I’m in central ohio and like others worried about a frost. If I take them down now, when you say let them dry with a fan, do you mean try to peel them now and dry the inside? Or try to let them sit in the skin a little longer? Sorry, I’m so confused! I had one that had some damage on the bottom anyway so I opened it up when it was very green and it was so slimy I’m afraid to open any others! Thank you so much for all the great info!

    1. Hi Kp! Good question! If your luffas are starting to turn colors (yellow or browning due to age, not rot) then I’d personally peel them, wash them thoroughly and dry them. If they are not turning color yet but you know you need to take them off the vine due to frost, I would say to put them in a low-humidity room and keep an eye on them to see if they’ll dry a bit in the skin. If they start rotting though, prune them and just wash the sap off them very well and put them on drying racks under a fan so that the airflow is constant and mold is discouraged. It’s all trial and error and this is just the best advice I can give without physically experiencing what you’re experiencing. Good luck and great job successfully growing luffas!

      1. I had to pick green re. Frost & don’t have any low humidity place & not a lot of elwctricity. I had some mold/rot where they touched in basket. Next yr I’ll try the back of my car where we cured sweet potatoes this year. I’ll either hang them or put them single layer,not touching in baskets til they rattle ID they don’t show signs of deteriorating

    2. I grew these for the first time this year. We are Zone 5. I planted them a little late in the season, so mine were pretty much still green when the first frost came this season (October). I did not get them harvested before that, so some got a little brown from the frost. We recently have had a stretch of unseasonably warm November weather, so I finally cut them from the vines and laid them in a rock bed to dry for a little less than a week.
      Today, I went to work cleaning them. The ones that were more dried out (brown and possibly frost damaged) had thin skin which stuck to the fibers a lot. I also had issues with the sponge fibers being discolored. The green ones still had a thick outer shell that seemed impossible to get off—until I whacked them all over with the back of a small shovel. 🙂 Much like tapping a hard-boiled egg on the counter to fracture the shell, I hit the gourd on all sides (rather vigorously) until I cracked through the green outer shell. Once broken up into smaller pieces, it was relatively easy to peel away the outer shell.
      Finally, I literally power washed each loofa from top to bottom, all the way around until all the remaining flesh (there was much more in the green ones) as well as the seeds were washed away. I simply poked a thin fiberglass rod in the ground (think driveway markers for snowplow season), slid each loofa down onto it, and power washed. I was able to hold the sponge with one hand (to turn and adjust) while spraying with the other. In the drier/browned sponges, the fibers seemed more delicate and some frayed when my kids volunteered to power wash them (and put the nozzle too close to the sponges). The green ones seemed much more sturdy, though it could be that I washed those at a greater distance.
      After dealing with brownish ones and more green (on their way to drying) ones, I much prefer them to be a little green. The sponge you get is much better in appearance.

      Thank you for all the great input here! I will definitely grow these again, but hope to get them in earlier, and perhaps trellis them so they don’t take over the garden!

      1. Hi Lisa! I loved starting my morning reading this. I’m so glad you were able to save most of your luffas! And yes, they definitely do well on a trellis because they take over like crazy! I hope you stay warm through the winter months and enjoy your luffas!

      2. Hi:

        Thanks for the tips on harvesting green loofas. Mine are the kind that is used in Asian cuisine when young. They are rather bland and somewhat like a winter melon taste-wise. However, they grow huge and tough. Mine have sharp ridges.

        I was just wondering whether your loofas were ones with the sharp ridges or smooth. I am going to try whacking mine with a shovel too. Right now they are like lethal weapons–hard and sharp and heavy.


        1. Hi Mary! My luffas were softer. Not silky smooth, but definitely did not have sharp ridges. I would suggest that you try soaking them to maybe loosen the skin away from the luffa inside. That might help your lethal weapon let its guard down a bit ;P Thanks for giving me a laugh this morning! Good luck with your lethal weapons!

  18. Nanc Pichette says:

    Does it hurt the luffa to go through a frost or two? Mine are still green on the vine with yellow flowers on the vine all so. I am zone 7 in southern Illinois . First time growing and not sure when to pick. We are suppose to have frost tonight.

    1. Good morning Nanc, I’m so sorry I didn’t see this earlier. I hope your luffas are okay! I live in Florida so I don’t have as much first-hand experience with frost and luffas. For a general rule of thumb with gardening, you’ll want to cover summer crops when you’re expecting a light or hard freeze as it can kill the plant. If it did freeze last night and your luffa gourds look like they are suddenly browning, I would suggest taking them off the vine, peeling them and washing them well to get all the moist sap off. Afterward, dry them completely and keep an eye on them during the drying process to make sure they don’t start to mold. If you woke up this morning and they look fine, you might leave them on the vine unless there are more freezes coming your way. It is likely that your flowers will not make it through a frost or freeze. I hope this advice helps! I’m in Florida so I don’t have to worry about frost this early in the year and haven’t personally had to deal with your specific situation. But if I were in your shoes, the above advice is what I’d likely follow and hope for the best! Good luck to you!

  19. Angela Brent says:

    Any advice on how to encourage ripening quicker? I live in Indiana and it’s not the most ideal growing climate for luffas. Last year I harvested them before the first frost and tried to dry them in my garage but they all rotted. This year, I’ve covered them when we were having a first but pretty soon, that’ll be daily. If I cut away the extra leaves -do you think that will encourage ripening/changing colors?

    1. Hi Angela! I’ve never had to deal with issues like that since I live in Florida but I’ll try and give my best advice! If I were in your position, I would try to cover them with greenhouse plastic to keep heat in but also let sunlight through. Beyond that, I think I would need a little more information. What color are they currently? If they’re still green but already turning yellow just a little, you might be able to pull them off the vine now and wash them very well. Place them in a well-ventilated area, maybe with a fan, and keep an eye on them very closely to make sure they dry evenly and don’t mold. I hope this helps! Please, if you have any more questions just let me know and I’ll do my very best to guide you through them. Good luck!

    2. Sarah Goodwin says:

      I have grown them a couple years In zone 6, also having green fruits when the frosts start. I have had good luck with harvesting them green, roasting them at a low heat (300) for 30-60min, after cooling, peeling them and them spraying them to clean off slime. Then air dry and store. Good luck!

      1. Oh wow! I love roasting information! What a great way to deal with them when picked a bit early. Thanks for sharing, Sarah!

  20. Reading this article has been great. Thank you for your tips on harvesting. I had a very successful 1st year this season. I used an arch trellis and it was beautiful and full of blooms all spring and summer. I live in north central Florida. I planted from seeds mid April and I still have a few on the vine.

    Until reading this I have been leaving them on the vine until they were completely brown and dry. They have been difficult to peel and occasionally I have found mold. I am excited to pick them earlier and improve that process with your suggestions. This has been an awesome experience.

    They are invasive though and if left on the vine or unattended the plug on the bottom will pop off by itself and it will reseed itself also.

    I am happy to find other loofah buddies!


    1. Hi Tina! Welcome to the “loofah club”! I didn’t get to grow them this year but am itching for next summer. I’ve thought about trying to grow some on my little greenhouse! The trellis sounds beautiful. As for them being difficult to peel, try soaking them in water for a while. It should loosen/soften up the skin making them easier to peel. I’m so happy that your harvest was abundant and hope you have so many more. I can’t wait to grow luffas again! Thanks for sharing with me and stay well! -Chelsea

  21. Cathy Messer says:

    We grew luffas for the first time last year. We REALLY underestimated how large those vines would grow! Because of that, we built a huge trellis this year that connected to the donkey barn and ended up with the most awesome luffa fort! The grandkids love it and we do too: It’s a full 10 degrees cooler inside! A great little ‘break room’ when gardening out back. Wish I could attach a pic!

    1. Hi Cathy!
      YES, the vines grow CRAZY large! I wish I could see a pic, too! I didn’t get to grow my luffas this year but plan to trellis them with an arched trellis next year. I’m looking forward to it already.
      Natural break rooms are the best. Thank you for sharing your experience with me!
      With appreciation,

  22. Pstti Wood says:

    I found if your luffa has turned brown, it is easy to peel them if you soak them in water for one to two minutes, the skin will peel off very easy.

    1. Hi Patti! Yes, if they turn brown soaking them will help the skin peel off. In my area when they turned brown so mostly already started molding on the inside. I live in Florida and it’s very humid here, so I think that’s why. Either way, soaking them in water can help the skin slide off – you’re absolutely right! I’ll be adding that snippet to this page soon. Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  23. Kathe Jackson says:

    Thank you for this. I lived in Central Florida so I honed in on your “subtropical” reference. Glad I did. Picked my first one today — it was green, turning yellow, lighter, and squishy to the touch. I just finished washing it off and glad I did not wait. Hope that most of the rest of the seeds will come out when it has dried. This has been a lovely plant growing over one of our arbors. It’s yellow flowers so bright and plentiful. A real treat this spring.

    1. Hi Kathe! I’m so glad picking them worked out! As they dry, the seeds will come out. Keep an eye on them while they dry so house flies don’t land on the and lay eggs! We have to do things a little different down here in Florida, don’t we? What worked for me was putting them on a cookie rack in a container with a piece of glass over the top and setting it in the sun. This way they could dry but bugs couldn’t get to them in the humidity. I’m so excited that your luffas have brought you joy this year! Thanks for sharing your experience with me!

  24. diane Watson rice says:

    Help-It’s in the low – mid 40’s during the nights here. My luffas are still green. What can I do….Pick green? wait for frost & cross my fingers???

    1. Hi Diane! Are they still green AND squishy? I would say if they’re still completely green and squishy to try and keep them on the vine as long as you can. Maybe pick them right before the frost. This is what I would try if I was in your shoes! I would say to definitely get a second opinion, though, since I am in Florida and hardly have to worry about freezes this early in the year! Good luck Diane!

  25. Does anyone have a good cold process soap recipe using the luffa sponge?

  26. Penny Howard says:

    I live in South Louisiana zone 9. This is my second year growing. This year I planted over 20 plants. I have already picked 13 sponges in the last month. I have waited until hard and brown and some of them are discolored. I searched for this and found your newsletter. Now I understand the discolor is mold. I have a ton of green ones on the vine, so this evening when it cools off I’m getting out there and see about picking the ones turning yellow. It’s still in the 90’s but next week we are supposed to cool off to the 80’s. We don’t really get any winter here until January so January and February are our only real winter months with consistent cold. All other months we can be burning up one minute and freezing the next it’s a guessing game here. Thanks for your newsletter it was very helpful.

    1. Hi Penny! Yes, I was so confused when harvesting mine because for the first few I waited until they were totally dry and I realized they actually molded and discolored! I’m sure you could work around the discoloration/mold if you were to soak them in bleach but I didn’t want to take that step with mine. Our Florida winters sound slightly similar to yours in S. Louisiana! I’m so glad my article was helpful to you. Congrats on successfully growing luffa sponges!

  27. I live in Ontario Canada and I am trying to grow Luffa for the first time. I am worried about waiting too long before starting to harvest. We don’t have frost yet but it will be soon. Current day time temperature is between 56 and 66 and night time is 46 to 56.
    Currently the luffa on the vine are still mostly green. What should I do? Wait as long as I can and cut them off the vine just be fore the first frost? Start covering them at night now and to protect them from cooler temperatures?
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
    thank you

    1. Hi Marie! I would say to wait as long as you can to cut them. Are they browning at all? If they are turning yellow or brown then you might even be able to go ahead and peel them, clean them, and let them dry. If they’re super moist still it’ll be a totally pain to dry them the right way (that’s just from my experience). I can’t promise you that this is 100% the right thing to do but it is what I would do if I was put in your position! You could go ahead and cut one or two of them open and see what they’re like inside currently and go from there! I hope it helps and good luck!(: Keep my updated!

  28. 3rd year growing them! I’m in Oregon, so we run out of heat pretty abruptly Sept./Oct. This year, for the 1st time, I topped them when they reached the top of the 4′ fence. I figured that would concentrate the energy to the gourds. Holy cow! Got me some big ones this year! Thanks for the tips on harvesting….definitely the challenging part. Super fun to grow, use them all year long. Happy growing!!

    1. That is AWESOME Cathy! I’m so happy that you had a great harvest. Thanks for stopping by and telling me the great news. I love hearing it, I really do. Stop by again sometime!

  29. I am in year two of growing Luffa, and you are so right about all the misleading info about harvesting and curing these gourds. I originally found out that luffa didn’t come from the ocean VIA TheArtOfDoingStuff.com and purchased seeds immediately. Then that spring I was leasing 40 acres and was more than overwhelmed so when I started my seeds I did not label properly and confuse the luffa for a strange strain of cucumber. They took over the fence at my boyfriend’s house and we only realized they were luffa after the gourds had gotten so massive we were freaked out. Due to being overwhelmed and misinformation, I left them on the vine until they were more than hard and brown. After painstakingly using a grinder & wire wheel to peel them, we had sponges! Except they were scary and ugly. I told all that got them as gifts they were supposed to look like that, but this year will be different! (South Eastern Pennsylvania, zone 7b)
    I had over 600 luffa seeds and despite giving away lots, and aside from intentionally planting a ton, I also just threw a bunch around my new agricultural lease, and they have EXPLODED. Like invasive vine style exploded.

    I expect that I will be luffa rich this fall, and really would like to convert, at least SOME of it, to real money.
    Thanks for the info, we shall see what yield year two brings.

    In Florida, are these Perennial for you? How long is their season in your zone?? Do you grow sugar cane?? Citrus trees? Peach trees?!?

    1. Hi Juliana! That’s wild! Yeah, harvesting was definitely the hardest part for me. I actually didn’t grow them this summer – I still have some from LAST summer! haha. You can do SO MUCH with the sponges (I actually wrote a post about it!). They are not perennial – I would have to plant them every summer for them to come back. Although, as you have already stated, they’ll take over whatever spot they end up in whether it’s intentional or not! I’m so excited to hear about your yield and what you do with your sponges.

      The luffa season runs from May-ish to about August/September. Although, with the way the summers are here, it really just depends on what kind of season we’re having. Luffas don’t do well with cool weather – in my experience they love the heat and rain so the end of Spring and the summer are great times to have them in the ground! We don’t grow sugar cane yet, but growing up I went on field trips to sugar cane farms! We definitely have citrus and peach trees. 1 Tangerine, 1 orange, 1 key lime, 1 ponderosa lemons, 2 nectarine, 2 peach trees, 2 pears, 1 fig (new), 3 mulberries, 2 loquats, and 8 blueberry bushes!

    2. Hi Juliana! Did you plant luffa again this year? I am also in SE PA, Doylestown area. I am picking some of mine today. I’m worried about the cold weather expected this weekend.
      Thanks, Janet

  30. I’m about to harvest my first gourd. Holy cow those vines are crazy! Make sure you don’t plant them near the neighbor’s yard or they will take over their yard too! I’m a little nervous I will harvest too soon. They are still a little green but are turning yellow and brown. Trial and error but thanks for the info. Makes me feel better to hear what a new grower has learned along the way.

    1. Hi Linda! Harvesting was definitely my biggest hurdle to overcome. I read SO MANY ARTICLES that were not correct/accurate for my luffas. It seems to also depend on the water and sun intake your plant got and how much water they’re holding. I’m so excited for you!

  31. I grew luffa a few years ago.. i put them in pots.. boy!! are they DRINKERS!! I was watering them at least once or sometimes twice a day!! i missed a day here and there… they didn’t like it. i only got a few gourds from it because of the lack of water.. last year was the year to try again as it rained almost every day.. i am going to try again this year.. i think i will plant them at the base of my deck railing and let it climb up the railing and around the deck…hoping it works.
    have fun

    1. Christie, you just made a GREAT point. I hadn’t even thought about the CRAZY amount of rain we got last summer. I barely turned on my hose! Thank you for pointing out that I need to keep in mind to adjust the water if we don’t get the same amount of rain. I hope the deck railing works out for you! Make sure it’s strong enough that it won’t pull anything important down. I can’t wait to grow them again! Thanks for stopping by Christie.

  32. I am going to try growing my own this year. How many did you harvest? How long does 1 last you on average? I want to make sure I grow enough 🙂 I’ll Share my results

    1. I believe I harvested around 20. This year was trial and error for me so I did lose some due to rotting. I’m still using the same one from last year on my dishes! They last an extremely long time, much longer than a standard sponge. I’m looking forward to hearing about your progress! Thank you for reading, Melody!

  33. I’ve never heard of this, thanks for the info! Thanks for sharing at the To Grandma’s House We Go DIY, Crafts, Recipes and More Link Party. I pinned this! Hope to have you join again this week.

    1. thegreenacrehomestead says:

      They’re great fun to grow! Thanks for stopping by, Sheri!

    2. Chelsea,
      Hi! I’m a first time grower of luffa. Do you have any more tips on fertilizing, care of, pests . Although my first time has been quite the challenge, I have about a dozen. Now I need to figure out when to harvest.

      1. Hi Ginger!
        I just added some homemade compost to my luffas when growing. That’s never a bad thing to do if you think they need some help! As far as pests, I didn’t have any problem. You can always handpick them or make a homemade spray. As far as harvesting, I had to do a trial and error when starting. You don’t want to let them dry all the way on the vine because they can rot. For my case, it seemed to be best when they were almost all the way brown but still some green. That way they’re a little moist still and you can have them finish drying completely off the vine after they’re peeled and washed! I hope that helps. With gardening, the same thing won’t always help everyone so you just have to try and see what works. Good luck!

  34. Thanks for sharing on the Simple Homestead blog hop!

    1. thegreenacrehomestead says:

      Oh, of course! I’m blessed to be part of this hop every week. Thanks for stopping by, Rachel!

  35. This is something I want to try growing this summer. Saving this for sure. Found you on Simple Homestead Blog Hop.

    1. thegreenacrehomestead says:

      I have had so much fun growing luffa sponges and think everyone should do it once in their life if they have the room!