Group Title: Vegetable crops MR
Title: Luffa gourd (running okra, dishrag gourds)
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 Material Information
Title: Luffa gourd (running okra, dishrag gourds)
Alternate Title: Vegetable crops MR - Florida Cooperative Extension Service ; 71-4
Physical Description: 3 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Stephens, James M.
Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Publisher: Florida Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 1971
Copyright Date: 1971
Subject: Luffa -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Gourds -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
General Note: Caption title.
General Note: "June, 1971."
Statement of Responsibility: by James M. Stephens.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00094934
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 433413830

Full Text

Vegetable Crops MR 71-4
S13une, 1971

(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.

Climatic Response

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

scrubbing cloths.

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

and dried.

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