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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include:

Angled Loofah (Angled Luffa, Chinese Okra, Sing Kwa); Smooth Loofa (Smooth Luffa, Dishcloth Gourd, Ghia, Sze Kwa, Vegetable Gourd, Sponge Gourd)

Latin Name: Luffa acutangula (Angled Loofa); Luffa cylindrica/Luffa aegyptiaca (Smooth Loofa)

Plant Family: Cucurbitaceae

Close Relatives: Cucumber, gourd and squash

Uses and Markets: Culinary (Caribbean, Chinese, Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine): immature fruit of non-bitter varieties may be eaten raw, baked or in soups and curries. Do not consume seeds of Angled Loofah (potentially harmful side-effects) or bitter varieties.  Industrial (i.e. personal care products): dried fibres of mature fruits are used as bath sponges, pot scrubbers, filters, packing material and crafts.

Luffa: plant and fruit Luffa: flower Luffa : herbicide lesions
Production Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

Soak seeds in hot water (45-55°C) for 20 minutes and then in warm water (30°C) for 24 hours before sowing. Some cucurbit crops respond well to season extension techniques including plastic mulch. For more information on season extension, refer to the General Agronomics section.  

Propagation method

Most commonly by transplants from seeds, less commonly by direct seeding.

Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates

Late April or early May

Field Seeding Date:

After last frost

Field Transplanting Dates

After last frost, 4-6 weeks after greenhouse seeding.

In-row spacing

40-100 cm

Between row spacing

1.5-2.0 m

Optimal Soil temperature at planting

Delay planting until the soil temperature is 15°C or higher.  The optimum soil temperature range at planting is 25°C-35°C.


Apply up to 110 kg/ha N. Broadcast 65 kg/ha N and all the phosphate and potash required prior to planting. Sidedress the remainder of the nitrogen before the vines start to run. On sandy soils, a second application may be necessary after the vines begin to run. Click here for phosphorus and potassium application guidelines and for more information on specialty crop fertility.

Soil type

Well-drained sandy to loam soils.

Soil pH


Special requirements for growth habit

Cucurbit crops may benefit from staking or trellising to reduce fruit damage on the ground, keep fruit clean and increase harvest ease.

Optimal Temperature Range

Prefers a temperate, warm climate.

Temperature sensitivity

Frost sensitive. Chilling injury can occur to Luffa.

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation is beneficial under normal Ontario conditions.

Days to harvest

60-90 days to first harvest for culinary use depending on cultivar; 100-140 days to harvest for industrial use of fibres.

Specialized equipment


Harvest Scheduling

Multiple harvests of fruit for consumption from the same planting (immature fruits); Single harvest of fruits for industrial use of fibre (mature fruits).

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Hand harvest

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades. Quality is determined by the market.

Additional Harvest Notes

Use harvest guidelines for cucumber as a guide for fruit harvested for consumption.  For more information, refer to the cucurbits section of the OMAFRA Crops website.  Remove field heat as soon as possible after harvest.  For industrial use (e.g. sponge production, etc.) fruits should be allowed to fully mature on the vine and then can be dried on or off the vine. Fruit skin, pulp and seeds can be removed and the sponge can be bleached to lighten colour. 

Post harvest
Special handling/curing

Gentle handling of immature fruits is required to avoid fruit injury.

Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): 85-90%

Temperature: 10-12°C; Chilling injury in Luffa used for consumption can occur below 10°C.

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: 7-21 days

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

Insects and Invertebrates: Cucumber beetles, aphids (e.g. Aphis gossypii)

Diseases: Downy mildew, powdery mildew, alternaria blight, angular leaf spot.

Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

Insects and Invertebrates: Two-spotted spider mites, leafhoppers, squash bugs

Diseases: Damping off and root rots, bacterial wilt, scab, anthracnose, gummy stem blight (also known as black rot or alligator skin), fusarium wilt, phytophthora blight, septoria leaf spot, cucumber mosaic virus.

*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions.


To date the following pests have been the most significant in Ontario: cucumber beetle, aphids, powdery mildew, alternaria.  Varieties differ in susceptibility to alternaria and other diseases. This crop may be susceptible to many of the same pests as cucumber and squash and melons.  Downy mildew is a serious disease of cucurbit crops.  Cucumbers are the most susceptible to infection, however melons and other cucurbit crops can be affected by certain pathotypes of this disease.  Downy mildew is wind borne and highly infectious. In susceptible cucurbits, it can destroy on unprotected crop in less than 1 week.

This crop is in Crop Group 9: Cucurbit Vegetable Group and Subgroup 9B: Squash/Cucumber Subgroup. For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.  Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist. For more information on pests of cucurbits in Ontario, refer to OMAFRA’s Ontario CropIPM tool or vegetable production and protection publications. For pest control products registered on cucurbits refer to OMAFRA Publication 838. It is important to note that not all pest control products registered on cucumber or melon are registered on luffa.  . 

Cucumber beetle Melon aphid, Aphis gossypii Downy mildew on cucurbit Powdery mildew on cucurbitAlternaria on cucurbit Angular leaf spot on cucurbit
Additional Notes

Check for pollinator activity at early bloom.  Introduce honeybees if necessary. Separate varieties are preferred for sponge and edible fruit production.

Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile
  1. Elford, E., Filotas, M., Todd, J., and S. Westerveld. 2009. Non-traditional crops demonstration garden. OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre, unpublished.
  2. Westerveld, S., Elford, E., Filotas, M. and J. Todd. 2010-present. OMAFRA herb demonstration garden. OMAFRA Simcoe Resource Centre, unpublished.
  1. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.  2010.  Publication 363 Vegetable Production Recommendations 2010-2011.  Queen’s Printer for Ontario, Toronto.
  2. Munro, D. B., and E. Small.  1997.  Vegetables of Canada.  NRC Research Press, Ottawa.
  3. University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.  1998.  Publication 3346 Specialty and Minor Crops Handbook, Second Edition.  University of California, Oakland.