Luffa Gourd vines, banana trees and elephant ears.
I have been growing luffa gourds in my 8b garden zone for years. Luffa gourds are native to the US and reseed themselves efficiently. All I have to do is move the volunteer plants where I want them and let them grow on a fence or trellis. This year regular care has kept my vines looking beautiful.
They are easy to start from seeds in the ground or pots. Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch depth and water in. They sprout in 7-10 days and grow very quickly. Once the plants are established, it is important to allow the soil to dry out just a little bit before watering. Never let the ground dry out completely and make sure moisture is present in the first 2 inches of soil.
Freshly harvested luffa gourd seeds
Luffa seeds next to a harvested gourd
The bed where I grow my luffa gourd vines has loamy and well-drained soil which is ideal for them. In the spring, I apply a few inches of compost and rake it in to enrich the soil. About every other week or sooner as needed, I spray the plants with water underneath the leaves to dislodge unwanted bugs and their eggs. I then apply soap spray mixed with 1 Tb per gallon of neem oil or whatever the product package recommends. This works to cut back on insect damage and keeps the leaves looking nice. I would rather have an organic harvest than a perfect appearance but things go well as long as I stay on a schedule with the care.
Use caution when using neem during the summer and make sure the temperature is not above 85. Avoid spraying any blooms with neem because it makes them look unsightly and this organic remedy is toxic to bees.
My vines did look very bug chewed in these older videos but I was a busy Mom back then and was able to fight the bugs just enough so I could get my luffa sponges!
This is another old video showing my pollinator helper.
Luffa Gourd Gallery