Do you know those lovely, slightly scratchy sponges that exfoliate and invigorate your skin in the shower? Luffa sponges are a valuable beauty secret and are completely natural. They come from a variety of gourd that grows in tropical to subtropical regions. The vines are easy to grow in long-season regions. Do luffas need pruning? Read on to learn more.
Do Luffas Need Pruning?
Growing luffa gourds is quite easy provided you have a very long growing season. They take up to 200 frost-free days to mature and can grow numerous stems filled with heavy, up to 2 feet long (61 cm.) fruits. The vines need plenty of training and a sturdy trellis system upon which to grow. These vines can get 25 feet (8 m.) or more towards the end of the season.
Luckily, trimming luffa plants early will help keep the length to a manageable size and help with the training of the stems. Luffa pruning is not necessary if you don’t mind a monster vine with sporadic fruits. However, for easily controlled plants and more fruit, trimming luffa plants when young will help the stems grow in a more orderly fashion and produce more buds. It also promotes airflow and minimizes pests and diseases.
How to Prune a Luffa
When pruning luffa vines, keep in mind the size of the area in which they will grow and how many of these very versatile fruits you will want. The idea is to allow the stems to reach your trellis system while promoting airflow and room for the large fruits to grow without bumping into each other.
Use very sharp and clean cutting tools for luffa pruning. This will help prevent disease and damage at cut sites. To trim young plants, wait until there are at least four stems and cut all of the first stems back to the main stem. Continue training to the trellis and let the stems grow. Pinch off the first flowers which are male. Female flowers develop next and will form the fruit.
If you want a smaller set of vines, prune back to a growth node. You can easily keep the plant in check this way, provided you still have plenty of fruit on the lower vines. In order to give the plants room to grow, you may have to prune off those that are in clusters. This will allow the biggest fruits to fully mature without damage.