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Luffa aegyptiaca

Grow your own luffa

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A multitasking veg you can eat and turn into a sponge? Growing luffas will give you both!

Luffas thrive in the warm tropics, but can be worthwhile even in the cooler areas in Australia (I garden in Melbourne), provided you employ a few tricks. Having grown it for a number of years now, it certainly lives up to its hype, and deserves a place in every backyard – who can resist the allure of growing your own sponge! You can learn all about planting and harvesting luffa plants in Issue 129 — in the meantime, once you’ve harvested, here’s how to turn the veg into a sponge.

Sponge making

In order to harvest luffa as a sponge, you should leave it on the vine to mature fully and turn yellow. 

To prepare your sponge, you need to carefully break away the outer skin to reveal the inside – the dried inner fibres of the vegetable are in fact the sponge. When a luffa is fully dry, the skin should be easy to remove and crumble away. If it is still difficult to peel then you need to leave your luffa to dry for longer. When shaken, you can hear the seeds rattling inside your dried luffa; these seeds can be saved and replanted next season. Shop-bought luffa is usually bleached white, so don’t be surprised to find natural homegrown sponges have more colour variation; but they are just as effective. 

We love using luffas as biodegradable pot-scrubbers and dish sponges in the kitchen. Keep a basket of luffa cut up into 15cm lengths under the sink so you have sponges to use year-round. They can be washed clean and hung up to dry when dirty, and will last for months. Luffa sponges are also handy in the shower as a gentle exfoliator. 

The best part is, when your luffa sponge is spent, it can be thrown straight into your compost or worm farm. There’s no better feeling than a zero-waste sponge grown and harvested in your backyard, which goes back into the compost to feed your garden once again. 

More to see

Luffas certainly are a quirky veg and for a fun take on growing and using them, watch this clip from US Baker Street Heirlooms. For a more practical look at growing luffas, with a great idea for using them, watch this video from ABC Gardening Australia.

Last but not least

Luffa seed can be hard to find online, so check out local Asian grocery stores or markets for packets of seed. Online options at time of print include: and

Want to learn more about growing luffas? Get Jian Liu’s full article in Issue 129