| Material Information
||Luffa gourd (running okra, dishrag gourds)
||Vegetable crops MR - Florida Cooperative Extension Service ; 71-4
||3 leaves : ; 28 cm.
||Stephens, James M.
Florida Cooperative Extension Service
||Florida Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS
||Place of Publication:
||Luffa -- Florida ( lcsh )
Gourds -- Florida ( lcsh )
||government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
||Statement of Responsibility:
||by James M. Stephens.
| Record Information
||University of Florida
||University of Florida
||All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
||oclc - 433413830
Vegetable Crops MR 71-4
1 LUFFA GOURD HUME LIBRARY
(Running Okra, Dishrag Gourds)
By JUL 11 1972
James M. Stephens
Assistant Vegetable Crops Specialist I.F.A.S. Univ. of Florida
Florida Cooperative Extension Service, IF lo
Luffa is the genus name of a group of gourds known also as vegetable
sponges, dishcloth gourds, and running okra. The Luffa cylindrica is the
species most commonly grown in this country. The Luffa group are natives of
the tropical Old World. They are very ornamental, and the fruits, which are
usually one to two feet in length and strongly ribbed, have a very well-
developed, fibrous interior which may be used instead of a cloth or sponge
for scrubbing and cleaning. The immature fruits when young and tender, may
be eaten as cooked vegetables, very much like okra or summer squash.
Luffa and other gourds are annuals, and are adapted for planting
throughout the continental United States except in the extreme Northern
portion. They do well in a climate where day temperature in midsummer is
from 700 to 850 F and the night temperature only a few degrees lower. In
most localities seeds may be planted as soon as all danger of frost is past.
Young seedlings, however, are very tender and are easily injured by cold.
Distribution and Importance
In Florida, the Luffa gourd is grown almost entirely in home gardens,
and at present is not a commercial crop of any value. It is grown throughout
the continental United States except in areas of extreme cold where the
growing season is not of sufficient length. In some areas, the fibrous
interior of the Luffa gourds are used in the production of sponges and
This gourd is also used for ornamentation. After thorough drying,
it can be polished and painted and then waxed to become a decorative
This gourd is comparatively easy to cultivate. Because of its
close relationship to cucumbers and squashes, soils and cultural methods
adapted to the production of these crops usually give good results with
Luffas. Commercial fertilizer alone or in combination with rotted manure
will be found suitable for providing the necessary plant food. Because
Luffa gourds make a rapid growth, it is essential that they be provided with
an abundance of plant food. Usually, two to three pounds of a common analysis
garden fertilizer per 100 square feet of soil will get them off to a good
start. Additional sidedressings made by scattering a handful of fertilizer
every 10 feet down the row will be needed from time to time.
In most localities the seeds may be planted in the open as soon as
all danger of frost is past. However, the young seedlings are very tender
and easily injured by cold. They require from three to four months to mature
fruit that can be eaten as a vegetable, and longer (140 days) for the dried
If several rows are desired, the rows are usually spaced 7 to 9 feet
apart with the plants 4 to 5 feet apart in the row. They may also be planted
in hills 8 or 9 feet apart with 2 or 3 plants in each hill. For best results,
the vines should be trained on trellises or arbors.
Luffas require a reasonable amount of moisture and should be watered
during periods of dry weather. Toward the end of the season water should
be withheld so that the gourds will ripen before frost.
Problems and Care
The cultivation of Luffas is limited mainly to keeping down weeds.
When the Luffas are not making sufficient growth, they can be stimulated by
light top dressing of a quickly available fertilizer.
Luffas are subject to injury from the same diseases and insects that
attack cucumbers and muskmelons. Downy and powdery mildew are the most
prevalent diseases. Spraying the plants with maneb or zineb is the best
remedy, but it is more of a preventative than a cure.
They are also subject to certain wilt diseases, which may be largely
avoided by planting the gourds in a different location each year.
If insects become a problem, a spray or dust will give control. For
aphids (plant lice) use malathion, and for worms use sevin.
CAUTION: Use pesticides safely. Follow label directions.
Harvesting and Handling
The Luffa gourds should remain on the vines until they are ripe or
until the vines are killed by frost, if used for purposes other than eating.
When the gourds are first gathered as a dried product, they should
be thoroughly washed in some disinfectant or dusted with a disinfectant
material to prevent the development of molds.
The Luffa gourds should then be soaked in water until the outer
covering and the pith soften. After softening, the outer covering and pithy
material can be removed by rubbing them together or by means of a brush.
The sponges should then be washed through several changes of clean water