Commonly mistaken for “sea cucumbers” luffa sponges actually come from gourds you can easily grow in your garden!
Mistakenly called “cucumbers of the sea,” luffa sponges are often mixed up with sea sponges (which are technically animals)… but actually luffas come from land plants that can easily be grown in your garden.
They do resemble cucumbers, but they are technically gourds, scientifically called “luffa cylindrica.”
And when their green skins dry out into a light brown or tan, you can peel them off and find a perfectly intact sponge inside!
They can be used as is or you can bleach them with hydrogen peroxide to make them look like store-bought luffas.
What’s cool about growing them yourself is you can save the seeds (which come pouring out of the center once they are dry enough) and grow free sponges for life.
While they are traditionally used to exfoliate skin in the shower, they can be used for dishes as well… if you want to get really self sufficient.
They grow very easily in tropical and sub-tropical environments (zone 7 or warmer). Here are some growing tips from a pro-level sponge grower in Australia.
If you’re in a colder climate, there’s never been a better time to invest in a greenhouse (buy one for $165 here). This guy grows citrus all year in the Midwest with a geothermal greenhouse.