Loofah is also spelled luffa or lufa. It is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family which includes pumpkins and cucumbers. Loofah fruit is processed after harvesting to produce the common loofah sponge. It has been cultivated for hundreds of years. The loofah plant produces annual vines over 12-feet long. The plant is cold-sensitive and requires a very long growing season in order to mature into a dried sponge. Loofah seeds have slow sprouting times and resent transplanting. Loofahs are heavy feeders and require fertile soil to thrive. They also need a strong support system like a fence or trellis.
Allow the loofah fruit to vine ripen. Towards the end of summer the mature loofah fruits will loose weight. Their skin turns yellow or brown as they mature.
Cut the loofahs off the vines with a sharp knife once a hard frost kills the loofah plants. Once the plants die, the loofahs stop maturing.
Remove the loofah plants from the planting area. Add the dead loofah plants to your compost pile. By removing plant debris, you eliminate insect hiding places and plant disease hosts.
Lay the loofah fruits out to dry in a warm area with low humidity. Turn the fruit every couple of days.
Check the loofah fruit every couple of days by shaking them. If you hear the seeds rattling inside, then the loofahs are ready to be processed into sponges.