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Luffa aegyptiaca

loofah

A tender, tendril-climbing vine with rough-textured, maple-shaped leaves to 25cm across. From summer to autumn it produces male flowers in short clusters, and female flowers individually; all are bright yellow to 5cm across. From mid-summer fruits begin to form; these are green and cyclindrical, to 30cm long. Young fruits can be eaten as a vegetable. If left to mature the skin can be picked off, the seeds removed, and the fibrous body used as an abrasive sponge

Other common names
vegetable sponge
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Size
Ultimate height
2.5–4 metres
Time to ultimate height
1 year
Ultimate spread
0.5–1 metres
Growing conditions
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Moist but well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring Green
Summer Yellow Green Green
Autumn Yellow Green Green
Winter
Position
  • Full sun
Aspect

South–facing or West–facing

Exposure
Sheltered
Hardiness
H1C
Botanical details
Family
Cucurbitaceae
Native to the UK
No
Habit
Climbing
Genus

Luffa are a genus of tropical and subtropical vines in the cucumber family which can be eaten when young, used as a loofah sponge or in some countries, combined with other materials to make furniture or houses. Leaves are large and dark green and the fruit green with a rough texture like a gourd

Name status

Correct

Plant range
South and Southeast Asia (source: Wikipedia)

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How to grow

Cultivation

Under glass, plant in large pots or direct into the greenhouse border with support for the climbing tendrils; provide high humidity and shade from hot summer sun. Outdoors plant out in early summer against a sunny fence with climbing support. Luffas need a long growing season for the fruits to mature

Propagation

Sow seeds at 21-24°C in early spring

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • City and courtyard gardens
  • Patio and container plants
  • Sub-tropical
  • Climber and wall shrubs
  • Conservatory and greenhouse
  • Edible fruit
  • Wall side borders
Pruning

No pruning required

Pests

Generally pest-free

Diseases

May be susceptible to powdery mildews

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