The angled loofah plant
blooms in the evening. Its pale yellow cucurbita flowers are easily spotted from a distance – male flowers generally in a bunch, female flowers alone.
I’ve noticed that the blooming flowers attract insects to the plants, particularly ants. These insects can be seen scuttling along stems and around the flower buds, and are the cause of pollination.
They don’t always do their job, especially if the male flowers are a bit too far from the female flowers. At times like that, it’s good to step in and lend a hand.
Hand-pollinating flowers doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Some people recommend using a cotton bud to first swab the male flower to gather pollen, then to swab the female flower to transfer the pollen.
I, on the other hand, like to do things as easily as possible. So, since my plants have several bunches of male flowers, I simply pluck one male flower, strip away the petals, and introduce the male anther to the stigma of the female flower. In other words, gently rub the middle parts of the flowers together to transfer the pollen.
It takes less than a minute, and by the following day, you’ll see the fruit already starting to grow longer. The petals will drop within the next day, and the stigma will dry up at the tip of the fruit as it grows. Harvest within two weeks, before the fruits start getting fibrous. We’ve got several female flowers forming now that our two vines have matured sufficiently. That’s going to be a lotta luffa in a few weeks!